Wednesday, January 7, 2009
“Doctor’s Coupe” – Precursor to the Ambulance
You can’t always find a doctor at the Museum, but you can always find a doctor’s coupe. Presently on exhibit there are two—a 1924 Ford owned by Museum board member Bill Ballard and his wife Sandy, and George Staley’s 1926 Franklin.
The term “doctor’s coupe” is really a misnomer. Most major car manufacturers made a model called a business coupe. These cars had two doors, one seat for two or three people, and no rumble seat in the back.
The “no frills” interior was perfect for traveling salesmen who used the space behind the front seat to store paperwork, samples, and items for sale. Rural mail carriers found it the perfect car to carry the sorted mail to be delivered, the mail they would pick up from their customers, and for the stamps, postcards, and other supplies that they had to have on hand for the convenience of their customers.
n a time before ambulance service, the doctor was, in many cases, the person who transported his patient to the hospital. For a doctor, the interior of the business coupe was more specialized. As shown in the inset, besides the driver’s seat and a bench seat in the back, there is a folding “jump-seat.” Folded, this seat allowed more leg room for the patient, but for a more seriously-ill patient, it allowed for someone to care for the patient while being transported.
In the back seat, directly behind the driver’s seat, there is a platform to hold the doctor’s bag. Black finish was the only color available from the factory. The tan/brown upholstery is the authentic color for the period, changing to gray/black in 1926. Base price for this car was $525.
Museum board member Warren Nash owns a Franklin doctor’s coupe identical to the one in the Museum’s Franklin Exhibit. If you’re in Norwich on a summer night, don’t be too surprised if you see him “putting around the City streets.”
The car was passed down to Warren from his father.This car was purchased in 1960 and carefully restored to its original condition. The wheels have painted wooden spokes.
Posted by News at 1:26 PM