Former frontline emergency services worker from Burnley devotes 11 years to restoring vintage ambulance to its former glory
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The fully restored ambulance will be one of hundreds on display at this year’s Tractor Fest at Newby Hall, Ripon in June.
Alan Dunderdale worked with the South Yorkshire Ambulance service for 21 years and restores vintage emergency vehicles as a hobby. He first spotted the 1966 Austin Gipsy ambulance on the side of a road with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it and, when it came up for auction two years later, he set his sights on buying and restoring it to its former glory.
Alan said: “When I went to collect the vehicle, I took my lady friend with me. It was her first experience of being around vintage vehicles. She must have enjoyed herself as we are now married!
“One of the first ambulances I crewed in was a Ford with Wadham Stringer body which is almost the same body as the Austin Gipsy, so I was determined to add it to my collection of vintage vehicles. As the date of the auction clashed with my holiday, I left my daughter Kerrie in charge of bidding.
“When I returned from holiday she told me there had been quite a bit of interest in the ambulance and that she had to put a bigger bid on as someone else was bidding – she didn’t realise it was my bid!”
In researching the history of the vehicle, Alan’s son Keith, discovered that the FCD 74D registration plated Austin Gipsy was the first of only two pre-production vehicles, hand built before they started on the production run. It was also the first ambulance to attend a road traffic accident on the brand new M4. A subsequent detailed assessment of the vehicle revealed that it was in a bad state of repair with a rotten chassis and bulkhead, a broken engine and home-made front wings. There are no new parts for these vehicles, so a long search for second hand parts resulted with members of the Austin Gipsy Club helping to source them.
Tractor Fest is the UK’s largest tractor festival and takes place at award-winning country house and gardens Newby Hall, North Yorkshire (Saturday and Sunday, June 10th and 11th).