Les Brazier Javelin Body Works Adelaide (1970s to Current)


Les Brazier could be regarded as the father of modern ambulances in South Australia.  From the late 1970s until the early 1990s Javelin Body Works at Burfield Crescent, Elizabeth were one of only two ambulance builders in South Australia (the other being Moeller industries who built Em-cares and Ford Station Wagon Ambulances on Port Road at Cheltenham).  Javelin started by modifying Ford Transit Van Ambulances.  Earlier Ford Transit Van Ambulances were modified in Melbourne, but they proved to be unsatisfactory as the wiring was not of sufficient diameter (gauge) and overheated causing fires in some of the units.  Javelin Auto Body Works were approached by St.John to attempt the modification of the Ford Transit Van Ambulances that they had selected as their new ambulance.  Javelin modified Transits served St. John well until the end of the models usage in the late 1980s.



Les Brazier on the far Right at the hand over of one of the Javelin modified Ford Transit Van Ambulances.  Standing in front of Les in the light grey suit is the Honourable Des Corcoran the Premier of South Australia and to his right, in the grey suit is the late Don Gellis of St.John.  The gentleman on the left is one of Javelin's craftsmen.  This transit (Fleet number unknown) is one of the later Ford Transits that had the larger air-conditioning units on the roof.


Javelins tour-de–force was the “Twin-Life” Ambulance.  A concept that involved the use of a reusable fibreglass module that was mounted on the Ford F-Series 5.8 Litre cab-chassis.  The module was specially crafted as a fully contained ambulance body mounted onto a standard F-Series Utility Body (therefore retaining all of the factory standard mounting points and hardware).  The reusable “Twin-Life” Ambulances were designed to provide much cheaper long-term operating costs than a traditional custom-made permanently fitted ambulance body.  The “Twin-Life” concept was so successful that it won an Australian Design Award in 1984.




A famous photo taken in 1984 of Fleet 53, a Ford F-100 fitted with a “Twin-Life” module proudly on display at Maugham Thiem Ford on Port Road.  The Premier of South Australia, the Honourable John Bannon is alongside the ambulance.  The vehicle proudly displays the blue and white frame mounted “Australian Design Award”.  This represented one of the defining moments of Javelin Body Works and St.John Ambulance in South Australia.




A “Twin-Life” module being fitted out at Javelin Auto Body Works.  The cut-out to the cab is clearly visible.  The aluminium roll bars are also visible in this Polaroid taken before the inner bulkhead storage cupboards were finally glued and screwed into place.  There was much hand finishing involved that resulted in a high quality, long-lived and well-finished unit.  The front mounted air-conditioning unit and the top mounted storage cupboards are yet to have their doors and latches fitted.


The only structural modification that was made to the standard Ford F-100 (and later F-150 and F-250) cab-chassis was the fitting of a 300mm extension at the back of he chassis rails.  The extension was engineered in such a way that it was certified to the same standards as the design of the original Ford chassis rails.  The only further modification that was required by St.John was the fitment of the Philips FM900R radio transmitters and repeater equipment inside the new body.



The module from Fleet 165 is visible in the background with a new F-150 Cab-Chassis awaiting the mounting of the “Twin-Life” module.  The newly added 300mm extension on the back of the factory chassis is clearly visible in this shot.  The Cabs were specially modified by having the rear-window removed and a cut-out through which the crew could access the newly mated rear module.  When the units were sold without the modules, the rear windows were refitted and the steel panel below the window was carefully re-welded back so that they could be sold as an F-Series utility.  The air-conditioning unit is clearly visible at the top of the cut-out of the Fleet 165 module as are the wiring looms that are trailing out and wrapped around one of the side-lamps.


Les Brazier now operates Les Brazier Special Vehicles at the same location.  His new company specialises the modification of special cars and vans for people with movement impairment who need to be transported, or who need to carry wheel chairs while they drive themselves.  While Les is no longer building ambulances he is still building vehicles for people in need, and still serving the community of South Australia as he always has since being an ambulance officer in the 1960s.


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