Mercedes-Benz 320 Ambulance of 1937: A Close-Up
The Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany has been showcasing a close-up of the Mercedes-Benz 320 ambulance of 1937. This vintage ambulance has been on display in Collection Room 3: The Gallery of Helpers, highlighting the different designs and features of ambulances through the years. The Mercedes-Benz 320 ambulance of 1937 is a unique specimen, as it provides a glimpse into the history of emergency medical care and the motor vehicle.
No blue flashing lights and siren
The 1937 ambulance is painted in a grey color and lacks visual and acoustic warning functions, such as the blue "rotating beacons" and "two-tone horn" that are commonly seen on modern emergency vehicles. Instead, it only has a Red Cross sign that lights up above the windscreen during operations. This ambulance was purchased by the musical instrument manufacturer Hohner in Trossingen, Germany, for its company's medical service.
Better standard than "rear-view mirror rescue"
The ambulance, based on the Mercedes-Benz 320 (W 142) with a 57 kW (78 hp) 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine, had two stretchers for two patients and a bench seat for an attendant. Unlike the "rear-view mirror rescue," where the paramedic served as the driver, the ambulance offered a better standard of medical care during transport. The ambulance also had a holder for a cylindrical object, perhaps a gas cylinder for respiration, and a kidney dish in a compartment for the medical treatment en route.
The high-and-long principle
The body of the 1937 ambulance was built by Lueg in Bochum using a patented system that maximized height and length. The front end of the ambulance corresponds to the original Mercedes-Benz 320, while the rear end is the compartment for patients and attendants. The ambulance was heated and had access through double rear doors and a side door behind the co-driver. This configuration became the basis for later ambulances of the "high-long" type, often built on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class chassis with a long wheelbase.
Initiative for safety
The modern emergency service with its familiar structures and vehicles was systematically built up in Germany from the 1970s onwards. However, various organizations have existed since the 19th century, including public, voluntary, and private ambulance service providers, as well as companies with their own ambulance services. Since the 1890s, these organizations have used vehicles with various types of drive systems as ambulances, with the combustion engine becoming the preferred drive system.
Wide range of variants
Today, Mercedes-Benz provides a wide variety of base vehicles for emergency rescue needs, including estate models, SUVs, vans, trucks, and buses. The key mission of these vehicles remains the same: to provide emergency help quickly and reliably.