1937 Buick “Special Sedan” Ambulance
Orchard Park’s first rescue vehicle was a 1937 Buick “Special Sedan”, restored by Art Wisner
of of Wisner-Rapp Machine Company after a wreck August 31st, 1938. The accident killed two
prominent Orchard Park residents, Mrs. Frank Machamer, and her brother Bill Zeller. After
the funeral, the car was towed back to Orchard Park and turned into an “open-air” rescue
The rescue wagon was crude by today's standards, and the older firemen still tell stories
trying to keep their patients and themselves warm on those frigid Western New York nights. A
stretcher went length wise with a canvas cover. On the sides, there were two boxes
containing the first-aid equipment.
The Buick rescue truck was used until after World War II, when the Orchard Park Central
Station acquired a new ambulance from Moses-Taylor Hospital. In 1946, the Buick went on to
serve the Windom station for a number of years. The ’37 finally ended up with the fire
company officer, Frank Murphy, for his off road use on the Murphy Farm. Eventually it was
sold with the farm property to the Sisters of Mercy Novitiate. The novice drivers had happy
times driving the old Buick over the fields, much to the anxiety of the Mother Superior. She
was only too glad to get rid of the doorless car, when Fireman George Petre offered to
replace it with another car.
Petre kept it for sentimental reasons in the late John Riehles Barn for 10 years, before
selling it to John, an avid car hobbyist. An artist in metal and wood, John, lead a group of
fireman in the restoration of the Buick as a company project, to celebrate the Orchard Park
Volunteer Fire Company centennial celebration in 1983. Recently housed in a new display
showroom at the fire house, this beautiful white and gold 1937 Buick can be admired by all
the local residents as they walk or drive by.