When Eliot Ness was appointed the Director of Public Safety for the City of Cleveland in 1935, Cleveland had the highest traffic fatality rate in the nation. Ness created a multi-faceted approach to reduce the overall accident rate in the City. One part of his plan included the creation of a Police Ambulance Unit. Officers were selected for special First Aid training that was provided by City Hospital (now MetroHealth Hospital). He convinced the City Administration to purchase a fleet of ambulances that would also be used as “paddy wagons” if the need arose.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, on November 27, 1938 the International Harvester Company delivered “…twelve lightweight, speedy units with panel bodies to be used as combination ambulances and patrol emergency cars.” These vehicles were equipped with radios, collapsible stretchers, inhalators, first aid kits, splints and many other accessories to deal with emergencies. Painted red and blue with a white stripe, they met the Director’s plan of making the entire police vehicle fleet more visible. They were also capable of carrying up to eight officers to deal with emergency situations.
The 1940 International Harvester Panel D1 Series included a 213 ci HD flathead six-cylinder engine rated at 78 HP and a 3 Speed Manual Gearbox. The truck was part of the International Harvester Company D Series Line. The D-Line debuted in March of 1937 and was every bit as trendy as anything built by the competition with its Art Deco design, flowing fenders, and a rounded split-window cab, and just as technically advanced. The cabs were all steel and roomy enough for three men. These were the first trucks to be worked over at a new test facility for the International Harvester Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The Cleveland Police Historical Society Vintage Fleet committee recently acquired this 1940 International Harvester Panel D1 Series truck and faithfully restored it to a Cleveland Police Emergency Mobile Patrol truck. The Vintage Fleet can be seen throughout Greater Cleveland at festivals, car shows and other public events. Contact the museum for more information: [email protected]
The Cleveland Police Museum would like to thank everyone who helped complete this project
C.B.Graphics (Printing & Signs) – Parma, Ohio
Cleveland Communications – Parma, Ohio
Cleveland Lumber – Cleveland, Ohio
The Cleveland Western Reserve Fire Museum
Dave Cohen, DCaptain Vintage Lights & Sirens & Radios
Dan Olsen, Master Wood Craftsman – Medina, Ohio
E&K Welding Products – Cleveland, Ohio
Gary Cahill, Rescue Market Vintage Lights & Sirens
R&R Auto Body – Cleveland, Ohio