‘Dr. Death’ Jack Kevorkian’s ‘Deathmobile’ Gets New Life

A Detroit auto dealer is purchasing the "Deathmobile," the van driven by Dr. Jack Kevorkian of Royal Oak as he presided over assisted suicides, from a Southfield pawn shop featured on the "Hardcore Pawn" reality show.

"Dr. Death" Jack Kevorkian's "Deathmobile" will soon have a new life. (Screenshot: YouTube video of "Hardcore Pawn" program)
"Dr. Death" Jack Kevorkian's "Deathmobile" will soon have a new life. (Screenshot: YouTube video of "Hardcore Pawn" program)

“Dr. Death” Jack Kevorkian’s 1968 Volkswagen mini-bus may be rolling again.

It’s on layaway at American Jewelry & Loan, a Southfield pawn shop owned by Les Gold, one of the stars of the "Hardcore Pawn" reality show on truTV.

Gold told the New York Daily News a Detroit car dealer has purchased the controversial assisted suicide pioneer’s van for $25,000 and plans to display it as his dealership once the payments are made.

Gold said the “Deathmobile,” which Kevorkian drove when he presided over suicides, is the strangest items ever taken in by the Southfield pawn shop.

It’s also controversial.


To many in the Detroit area, the vehicle may be something of a “Christine,” the vintage car in Stephen King’s horror novel of the same name that is supposedly possessed by supernatural forces.

Tell Us:

  • Do you think the van driven by Dr. Jack Kevorkian should be preserved and displayed, or is that too macabre? 

Kevorkian reportedly sold the minibus for scrap in 1997, but the new owner, Jack Finn, held onto it, hoping to get six figures for it, but instead letting it go for $20,000 during a taping of the Hardcore Pawn reality show. Gold said he would like to keep the infamous “Deathmobile,” but it takes up too much room in his shop.

At one point, Kevorkian’s van was for sale on eBay for $10,000, but the listing was yanked after the online auctioneer cited its policy against “murderabilia.”

Gold thinks it’s an important piece of local history and should be preserved.

"With history you have to take the good with the bad," he told The Daily News. "What better piece of Detroit history than something like this?” Kevorkian, who lived in Royal Oak, helped at least 130 terminally ill patients die before his 1999 second-degree murder conviction in the death of a Waterford Township man. That case was profiled on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Kevorkian, who served eight years in prison before his release in 2007, died in 2011 at the age of 83. At the time, many residents of Royal Oak mourned the man the world knew as Dr. Death, but they called Jack. They remembered him as quiet and unimposing – “that quirky gentleman.”

Nick Rosebush of Royal Oak said he was well-liked and “a really smart man.”

“Everyone thought he was the nicest guy,” Rosebush told Patch in 2011. “My landlord said one time that if we had another 28 Jack Kevorkians in this place that it would be just fine."

Bill July 08, 2014 at 08:57 AM
Jack was a good man, and he provided a solution that many want and deserve. I too agree, this subject is taboo, and elicits tremendous emotional response. But there ought to be away to address situations where one’s life has no light at the end of the tunnel. I believe all of Jack’s clients were terminally ill, and most were dependent on others to take care them, and many were in terrible pain. There ought to be away to set-up checks and balances that would prevent an individual from making a rash decision but allow them to make a decision that they believe is best for them and their family. Perhaps having two medical doctors and a psychologist sign-off on the decision. And put a waiting period in there. There is merit to “putting one out of their misery.”
Carme July 08, 2014 at 10:50 AM
glad you all think he was a good man, and what he did was great. Soon very soon you will not have to make the decision if wanting to live or die. You will be offered palliative care or comfort care.No treatment to prolong your life. I see all the time at work.
Beth Dalbey July 08, 2014 at 12:45 PM
@Ron, you raise a good point. To comment on the pros and cons of assisted suicide, go here: http://royaloak.patch.com/groups/around-town/p/reader-dr-jack-kevorkian-should-be-remembered-as-patriot-who-eased-suffering-not-dr-death
RON Ostrodamus July 08, 2014 at 01:06 PM
What is called "palliative" of "comfort" care is for the most part also a myth. Pain killing drugs themselves often have horrible side effects including horrific dreams and then comes the time they simply do not work and who is there to suction out your throat when you cannot communicate that you are choking on your own secretions? This eventually results in what is called the "death rattle" a horrible term that is still used today by both nurses and doctors. A cardiologist once told me after I brought in a friend of mine to Beaumont that after the third rattle there is little hope, and it is only recently that some kind doctors are informing people that CPR on the elderly invariably breaks the ribs and causes pain in a knowingly futile effort which only prolongs the dying process.


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