Rescuing and Restoring Antique and Vintage Fire Trucks
As a child, did you dream of becoming a fireman? Racing to the rescue on those shiny red trucks. Today, classic enthusiasts are living out their childhood dreams by rescuing and restoring antique and vintage fire engines. If you have the chance, would you bring an old fire truck back to life? We’d love to know, so leave us a comment.
Early Fire Pumps Pulled by Horses or Steam Engines
Fire trucks have come a long way. The earliest mobile fire apparatus is a hand pump on wheels that is pushed by members of the bucket brigade. An onboard cistern is filled with water and pumped onto the fire. Later, horses are used to pull the pump wagons, making for better response times. In the 1850s, bucket brigades begin to use steam engine pumpers in cities but rural communities continue to depend on the horse-drawn fire wagons.
Vintage Fire Trucks – The Pride of American Communities
The motorized fire truck did not become a common fixture at stations until the early 20th century. Manufacturers like Waterous, Ahrens-Fox, American LaFrance and Mack Trucks produce customized trucks for fire departments across America, which become the pride of their communities – at a large financial commitment.
Collectors Love Their Fire Trucks
Why do collectors love antique and vintage fire trucks? Often enthusiasts have a personal connection with the fire service. A relative may have worked for the fire department. Childhood memories of seeing these antique trucks in parades or at fire stations prompt enthusiasts to add them to their collector’s wish list.
Before You Buy a Fire Truck – Think
Today, fire trucks are not expensive to acquire. Before you bring one home, consider where you are going to store it. From small 18-foot units to large 45-foot bucket trucks, these vehicles need their space. Second, restoration is not cheap. Many fire trucks are left outside to rust. Extensive bodywork and unique firefighting apparatus make these builds a challenge (What restoration isn’t challenging?).
Jay Leno Loves His Fire Truck
Still, want that fire truck? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Jay Leno owns a 1942 American LaFrance fire truck. Yes, he owns one of everything but Jay wasn’t content to let this truck sit in a showroom. He converted his big red machine into a rescue vehicle for his motorcycles. By adding a lift to the back, he can drive his motorcycles up and onto the truck. Glad to see this truck’s service days aren’t behind it.
The Cadillac of Fire Trucks
If re-purposing a fire truck isn’t for you, keep searching because rare gems are out there. The 1936 Ahrens-Fox BT model is considered the “Cadillac” of fire trucks. With a 1,140-cubic inch 6-cylinder engine and the ability to deliver 1,250 gallons of water per minute at 120 PSI, it is a modern marvel in its day. Only eight or nine are built, and six still exist. Six! One sold at auction for around $125,000.
Summer Convention and Muster for Vintage Fire Trucks
Need help finding the perfect truck to restore? Start by networking within the antique and vintage fire truck community. Join the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America (SPAAMFAA) – a long name for an excellent group. Twice a year, they sponsor a convention and muster where firefighting enthusiasts gather to display their trucks and memorabilia. The next event is August 2-5 in Sackets Harbor, NY.
Preserving an Overlooked Piece of History
Nothing beats the sight of a fully restored bright red fire truck to lift your spirits. With the chrome gleaming and gold lettering on the doors, your truck is the hit of local parades or car cruises. Preserving an overlooked piece of history is a commendable endeavor. It honors the firefighters who served on the trucks and reminds us of the sacrifices many in their profession give. To you, fellow collector, we say thank you for answering the call to save another vintage fire truck.
Collector and Classic Car Insurance for Less
Make sure your auto insurance covers all your antique and vintage prize possessions. At Classic Auto Insurance, we will work with you to provide thorough coverage for all your vehicles. From tiered mileage plans to agreed value, our knowledgeable staff can answer all your questions and tailor the right policy to fit your needs. Visit our website at www.classicins.com or call and see how we can help safeguard your dream car.