SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – One of Detroit’s most notorious vehicles sits parked in the back room of a well-known Southfield pawn shop.
Back in the 1990s, you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without seeing Dr. Jack Kevorkian and the van he used for several of his assisted suicides.
Once dubbed the “Deathmobile”, the 1970s VW Minibus is stored away among snow blowers and chainsaws.
“There’s the registration’ we have his driver’s license, we have the pictures,” said Les Gold of American Jewelry & Loan. “We have every document to show that this was actually the van that he used for assisted suicide.”
Gold said the odd item stands out, even in a place packed with curious stuff.
“This one one probably takes the cake. I have done a lot of interviews, talking about the strangest items…This has to be right up there as one of the strangest items we’ve ever taken,” he said.
Gold said the van he’d purchased for $20,000 sold for $25,000 about six months ago; and, like many other items in the shop, it’s on layaway.
“And he continually makes payments,” Gold said of the buyer, a local businessman whose name was not disclosed. “He just wants it because he collects strange and unique items; and what’s more strange and unique than Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s, Dr. Death’s, assisted suicide van.”
Gold said he tried twice to give it to The Henry Ford, but — as museum spokesperson confirmed to WWJ — they refused it because it didn’t fit into their collection plan.
“Even though Jack Kevorkian was (a proponent of) assisted suicide, and even though he went to jail — this was one of those things that was part of the history of Detroit,” said Gold. “I love Detroit …even the bad things. I love Detroit!”