BF Auction: 1946 Ford American LaFrance 4×4 Firetruck

Bid to: $3,600View Result

  • Seller: Eric H autala
  • Location: Spirit Lake, Idaho
  • Mileage: 6,223 Shown
  • Chassis #: MMCOE-4-5-49552
  • Title Status: Clean

UPDATE — The seller has added a photo of an identification number on the cab, suggesting this is an ALF Crash Truck made for the War Department in 1941. The photo can be viewed below.

The stories a find like this could tell! This Ford started life as a cab over and was then converted into a fire apparatus by American LaFrance. It was purchased by the Department of the Interior and eventually found its way to Idaho. The seller’s family purchased it in 1969, and it was used to fight forest fires in Idaho until the 1990s. It’s been parked ever since, so it will need work, but it appears to be quite original and complete. Rather than letting it continue to sit here, the seller is offering it here as a Barn Finds Auction! Take a closer look at this piece of history and leave your high bid below.

American LaFrance (ALF), founded in 1873, has a long history of building firefighting equipment. Unfortunately, the brand was shut down in 2014, but as long as pieces of equipment like this are preserved, the brand won’t be forgotten. This truck even retains old hoses, shovels, and other tools that were still in it when it was parked.

Rather than trying to build their own chassis and drivetrain, ALF bought trucks from various manufacturers. This one is based on a Ford COE truck with a Marmon-Herrington 4×4 conversion. Power is provided by Ford’s 239 cui flathead V8. The heavy-duty chassis allowed ALF to install a large water tank, pumps, and any other items a firefighter might need to do their job. The 4×4 system ensures the truck can traverse various terrains to fight forest and grass fires. The odometer is showing just 6,223 miles, which is likely accurate. It isn’t uncommon to find firetrucks with low miles, as they serve a very specific purpose.

The interior needs restoration after sitting for the past 30 or so years. Given that this was built to work, it’s as simple as possible. The steel dash retains its original gauge cluster, which houses the speedometer and odometer, as well as the temperature, oil pressure, fuel, and voltmeter gauges. There are two seats, a heater, a glovebox, controls for the Marmon-Herrington 4×4 system, and that’s about it. You will also find access to the engine through the interior.

It’s hard to say what condition the flathead V8 is in after sitting, but these engines are known to be durable. The 100 horsepower it produced when new was plenty to get it and a full tank of water down the road, or in this case, up the mountain. Most importantly, it was reliable enough to be trusted to do the job into the ’90s! Let’s hope there’s still lots of life left in it.

Restoring this truck into a functioning fire engine probably isn’t feasible, but after so many years of dedicated service, it deserves to live a more casual life anyway. It would be cool to see it back on the road and in parades where people can see and enjoy this piece of American history. So, if you’d love to dig this truck out and give it a new lease on life, be sure to bid. And please leave any questions you have for the seller in the comments below.

Bid On This Auction

High Bid: $3,600 (Reserve Not Met)
Ended: May 22, 2024 10:00am MDT
High Bidder: BrianC
  • BrianC bid $3,600.00  2024-05-22 09:57:50
  • Oldfart
    bid $3,500.00  2024-05-18 14:59:27
  • Sergio Leon bid $1,250.00  2024-05-16 23:20:45
  • Quind bid $1,000.00  2024-05-16 13:56:13
  • PhilLa
    bid $150.00  2024-05-16 09:42:42

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. geomechs geomechsMember

    A sight for sore eyes! To see one of these, untouched, is a rare privilege. This one needs to be restored and remembered. They come along about as often as the winning Powerball ticket. Removal of the cab for transfer onto a modern chassis–Bedamned! There’s all kinds of dark thoughts go through my mind when I see a truck as nice as this one sacrifice its cab. Of course the owner has every right to do with his truck as he sees fit. But it still doesn’t take away those thoughts from those who appreciate originality…

    Like 38
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    I’m with geomechs, I hope it gets restored, or at least brought back to driveability. 60 mph speedometer, does that suggest its realistic top end was about 45? Tons of pics, if only all ads had as many.

    Like 16
  3. Michael Brown

    It won’t get to the fire quickly but, it’ll get there!

    One option I always see for rigs like this is what a friend does with his Mack. He restored it 100% back to stock including the beautiful red paint and real gold leaf trim. Then, he had a stainless tank made and mounted a Honda gas powered pump. He uses it for lawn/garden work and general cleaning around his homestead. It also hits a few parades and shows every year. People LOVE to hear that old Federal siren wail!

    Like 12
  4. Eric

    It’s has lots of potential and possibilities nice for what it is would be a great fixer upper for right person and would make a great conversation piece not what I’m looking for sorry but very nice for right person good hunting Thanks for the opportunity to c it

    Like 2
  5. Mike

    The lottery winner dream would be new frame, new motor and restore the cab. Then take the entire back half and create an art deco camper. Maybe get Randy Grubb to do it.

    Like 4
  6. HoA HoAMember

    Wow, took a couple pictures, I see. Years ago, that would have cost a fortune from Walgreens. “Sitting 30 years, or so”? This truck hasn’t “saved a basement”( a rather derogatory term for fire fighters) since we were in diapers. Realistically, old fire engines have a limited following. Their size and usefulness, not to mention cost of restoring, keep many people away. Nice ones are generally relegated to the dwindling parades in small towns, usually local trucks with some connection to the town. My town has a restored 1911 Kissel, the town bought new, restored by the city’s retired fire fighters, but most sit until the next parade. I think the only chance here is to remove the fire app. and make it into a more useful vehicle, and yes, that means a late model chassis.
    Quick story about vintage fire engines. My 2nd home as a kid, was Hustisford, Wis( population, 708, SALUTE!) and the closest town from our lake cottage. We took the boat to town, and had to walk past the local volunteer fire dept. Ever since I was a kid, there was this white, not red, ’55 Chevy fire truck, inside and never seemed to move. Hustisford is a small town, I doubt had many fires, anyway, one year, the truck was parked outside. Naturally we had to go look, this truck was like BRAND NEW! It had like 4,000 miles. I found out, a local city worker bought the truck and quite the find.

    Like 7
  7. James Mulcare

    It should be clarified that American Lafrance didn’t just build on commercial chassis’. They built complete fire apparatus in house. Chassis, engine, pump, aerial ladders were all designed and manufactured in their Elmira, NY, factory. The ALF 700 through 900 series apparatus are some of the most iconic fire trucks ever built in America.

    Like 7
  8. Big RedMember

    The hamlet of 800 I grew up in South Jersey had a 55′ Ford Pumper,49’Open cab Mack and I believe a late 40’s Caddy ambulance. All volunteer dept.

    Like 4
  9. Bunky

    This is an awesome find. I suspect that it could be made operational again. It would make a great fire truck for a ranch, farm, or any rural home. I like the idea of using it for irrigation. It could haul water to remote locations for irrigation or water for livestock. The 4WD function would be useful. Great find!

    Like 5
  10. Steele ~Steele~Member

    My ol Lady would kill me! If I had the space this would be in my shop, keeping me off the streets.. What a fun project.. It’s complete, Time and Love this thing would be purring like new. Take it apart and put it back together, plus some $$ for a few minor upgrades. It would be so C@@L and perfect in our subdivision here in S-W Colorado.. (My wing nut must be a little loose, this thing excites me..) If I had the means this thing would be ours. Grate project, and would be squirting water in no time. Lic plate would read “Squirt”

    Like 4
  11. Zenette

    Don’t be fooled, like I was, in assuming that an old fire truck with low mileage must have an equally unused engine, especially if it was a pumper. You have to remember that pumpers sit mostly stationary for hours at the fire site while the engine runs continuously to pump water. It wasn’t long after I bought the truck, which was built on a 1937 Chevy ton-and-a-half chassis, that the top half of a piston separated. But despite the age, the siren continued to work!

    P.S.: I still miss that old truck.

    Like 5
  12. JimZMember

    This truck reminds me of when I was a volunteer FF back in the 70’s…the hours I spent atop a government surplus 6×6 tanker fighting brush fires in SW Florida.

    Like 4
  13. dogwater

    Sorry why would someone throw money at this old wreck at today cost of body and paint yard art

    Like 0
  14. Quin

    Can you physically help with shipping? Like maybe airing up the tires or something? It’s going to be a chore just to get it loaded.

    Like 3
    • '46 Ford 4x4Seller

      Yes, we’ll be there for the load out and to help with prep / problem solving with the shipper/buyer.

      Like 5
  15. ablediver

    This truck is right in so many ways……

    Like 6
  16. chrlsful

    seen some horrible things done to COE, like a P/U mod. Didnt realize this had 4WD (so wuz gunna B smart’n ask how close to the fire could it get, w/wimpy hose diameter). COE not made 4 the woods but sure could turn tighter than a regular ford truck. So pretty handy in the day. Looks untouched for min 10 yrs (lichen grows on ours @ abt that age). aahahahaa
    Love to see it brought back. Cant a municipality’s men’s club of (carpenter/firefighters, sportsmen/fund raisers) love it up some?
    No? sense of community gone everywhere?
    Thnx for all ur pic/6 min vid,
    Hope U can find some1 who can rest0mod (light on the mod) and not rat rod or make nother p/u.

    Like 5
  17. stillrunners stillrunnersMember

    Wait – is that Olive drab underneath that red paint ? Looks like an earlier built truck like 1940-41….experts chime in.

    Like 4
    • '46 Ford 4x4Seller

      The vehicle is titled as a ’46 Ford – it is being sold that way. Look closely at the driver and passenger doors for a faint WW2 War Department designation layered “under” the over-sprayed “Department of the Interior” text – “W-xxxx167”. While not represented in that way, your eyes might be onto something. I’ve heard American LaFrance made specialized Military fire control vehicles on earlier Ford COE’s. But it’s a ’46 Ford on the title, so that’s what it is.

      Like 3
  18. Tom

    These are the Holy Grail of trucks to me. I passed up a ’46 Ford COE at the Portland swap meet about 10 years ago and have been kicking myself ever since. If I had the cash, I’d be ready to out-bid anyone within reason on this project! First thing I’d have to do is put a comfy bed somewhere to sleep in as my wife would undoubtedly kick me out… well worth it in my opinion. PLEASE whomever the lucky bidder is, give this baby the love and attention it deserves. Thanks for all of the great pic’s!

    Like 6
  19. Mountainwoodie

    All it takes is a LOT of money…but I think it would be well worth the effort and money spent. It is a unique pumper in a COE. Somewhere there is a pix of ( fa MUCH younger) me up in an open cab fire engine around 1960. It was my neighbors I’ll have to fish it out of the picture pond and figure out what model it was. Non rolling fire engines gather a lot of moss!

    Like 3
  20. Claudio

    A milion hours of restoration work lies ahead , i believe volunteering and helping people in difficult times would be more rewarding but that is just me !
    To each his own

    Like 0
  21. Steve RM

    I’m liking this truck a lot. Good luck to the next owner.
    One thing has me wondering though. How did that rear bumper, that looks like it is made from heavy duty diamond tread, get that badly damaged while the rest of the rear seems to have no damage?
    Any thoughts?

    Like 1
    • '46 Ford 4x4Seller

      A tree fell and clipped the diamond tread, missing the rest of the vehicle, many years ago.

      Like 4
  22. Elmertramp

    Wonder what the weight n

    Like 1
  23. Elmertramp

    Wonder what the weight n dementions are probably cost a fortune to ship

    Like 1
  24. H Siegel

    Wow I really like this fire truck. I believe the bumper damage may be from being moved by using a bucket loader or something of that sort. Now that being said keep in mind what you have here is an old Ford coe with a fire apparatus mounted to the rear. Splitting the two in your head may make placing a value on it easier. I once had a 54 white wc24plt with a stake body on it. My father loved using it to pick up parts for his trucking business that were to big for his pickup truck. As I have said in the past if I was a younger man I would buy this and restore it. Good luck to the seller and to the buyer good luck with the project and most of all when it’s done drive it and enjoy it.

    Like 2
    • Steve RM

      After reading your reply I took another look at that bumper. Your theory and a VERY stout frame could be the answer. Thanks

      Like 1
      • '46 Ford 4x4Seller

        The ’46’s rear step bumper was glanced by a large tree that entirely missed the rest of the vehicle many years ago.

        Like 3
  25. Lee Kallenberger

    What is the wheelbase of the truck? And what is the Total Length of the truck?

    Like 0

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