It had no siren, and no flashing lights, but it was supposed to save lives. It was the Mercedes-Benz ambulance back in the 1930s. Today, it still tells stories from nine decades ago in the Close-up series section of the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
The Mercedes-Benz ambulance was based on the 320 luxury saloon (W 142). Built in 1937 by Lueg in Bochum according to a patented system, the vehicle was in the possession of musical instrument manufacturer Hohner in Trossingen, Germany. It came with a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine that developed 57 kW (78 PS).
It featured two side-hinged rear doors and it could carry two patients simultaneously, on two stretchers one above the other. The lower stretcher is mobile, since it rests on a rail-guided roller-mounted bogie. A bench seat and a folding seat are also in the ambulance. So is a cylindrical support, probably holding a gas cylinder. A kidney-shaped dish in a compartment in the partition facing the driver served as a tray. There is a heating system in there.
Back then, the lack of personnel sometimes forced the paramedic to double as a driver, having to keep an eye on the patient by looking in the rearview mirror. Furthermore, the focus was not on providing first aid at the scene of the accident, but on taking the patient to the hospital as fast as possible.
The ambulance had no flashing lights to warn other drivers and no siren whatsoever. It displayed a Red Cross light above the windshield instead, which was on during operations. But that wasn’t exactly synonymous with priority in traffic
The photo gallery below displays several ambulances. There is a 2001 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with a box body, sporting blue lights, and a siren. “Rotating beacons” and “two-tone horn” only became standard equipment for emergency vehicles much later.
Nowadays, Mercedes-Benz vehicles commonly serve as a base for ambulances. Modified estate models, SUVs, and vans, but also trucks and buses pick up patients and carry them to hospitals. But obviously, the warning system and equipment are different from those from 86 years ago.