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Pics: Museum transforms 1917 Ford Model T into World War I ambulance

The Michigan Military Heritage Museum converted a 1917 Ford Model T to a World War I era ambulance. The ambulance was on display at the Grass Lake museum on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. It took three years for the restoration to complete. (J. Scott Park | MLive.com/TNS)
September 05, 2020

It took three long years.

But the Michigan Military Heritage Museum in Grass Lake has a new prize exhibit — a 1917 Ford Model T restored to look like a World War I-era ambulance.

The ambulance arrived at the museum on Wednesday, Aug. 26 and Board Member Scott Gerych couldn’t be happier.

The Michigan Military Heritage Museum converted a 1917 Ford Model T to a World War I era ambulance. The ambulance was on display at the Grass Lake museum on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. It took three years for the restoration to complete. Here is a view of the back with stretchers.
(J. Scott Park | MLive.com/TNS)

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“It’s amazing,” he said. “I was stunned.”

A replica of the vehicle was the only option –there are no ambulances left from the era. The project cost about $28,000 to complete, volunteer Mike Coppernoll said. The frame and motor are the only parts of the vehicle that are original. The rest was built.

Volunteers Mike Coppernoll, right, and Richard Lambert helped the Michigan Military Heritage Museum convert a 1917 Ford Model T to a World War I era ambulance. The ambulance was on display at the Grass Lake museum on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. It took three years for the restoration to complete.
(J. Scott Park | MLive.com/TNS)

“It is probably the closest in detail to any of them in the country,” Coppernoll said. “I think it is a pretty good chunk of American history.”

A visit to the Ford Motor Company archives helped Coppernoll and other volunteers figure out how to build out the vehicle. A lot of research went in to the project, Gerych said. Most of the work was done in a hanger at an airport in Grosse Ile.

The Michigan Military Heritage Museum converted a 1917 Ford Model T to a World War I era ambulance. The ambulance was on display at the Grass Lake museum on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. It took three years for the restoration to complete.
(J. Scott Park | MLive.com/TNS)

Donors and sponsors to the project included Alro Steel and the Glick Foundation, David Moxlow at Trenton Forging, Dane Moxlow at Detroit Motion Company, Mike Coppernoll, Richard Lambert, Stones 1 Auto Shop in Grass Lake and George and Sherry Rutkowske.

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