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Big Red Fire Truck: 1923 REO Speedwagon


It’s hard to explain what is so fascinating about fire trucks, maybe it’s the size, the bright red paint, or the fact that they save lives. Whatever it is, there is just something cool about them. Part of what makes this 1923 REO Speedwagon fire truck interesting, is the mystery behind its history. It wasn’t put into service until 1959, so it was parked for 36 years before being used. It has been kept indoors for the vast majority of its life. The seller has gotten it running and even drives it regularly. So, if you have ever wanted to have a fire truck of your own you had better take a look here on eBay.


When the current owner found this truck, it was complete but rough. They didn’t do much to the body, other than straightening a few pieces out. The drivetrain on the other hand, has completely gone through and is all sorted out. The seller seems to believe this isn’t the original motor, which wouldn’t be surprising. It looks great and appears to be period correct though.


Most people would only drive this in parades and to car shows, but we could see ourselves taking it to run errands. We wouldn’t want to take it far, as there’s more wagon here then there is speed. It tops out around 45 mph, but it would be a head turner everywhere it goes. Would you drive it regularly too or are we just crazy?


  1. Peter

    Uhhh…..59-23 = 36 years, not 23! Other than flunking the math test, cool item.

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Not sure where Josh got that number, but it is all fixed now. Thanks Peter.

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Perhaps he was confused with all the numbers the seller throws around in their listing. They claim that it has been parked inside for 65 years. Then they list 3 possible years for the truck (1919, 1923, 1924) and then claim that it didn’t go into service in 1959. Hmm… If it has been inside for 65 years wouldn’t that mean it was parked sometime around 1948? They claim to original photos and history though, so I am sure they could clear up any confusion if someone was actually interested.

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  2. Your Name

    Mechanical brakes with only rear brakes it would 3 men and a small boy to stop.

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  3. Rick

    This would make a great ATV hauler.

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  4. Horse Radish

    AS a personal fire truck, o.k.,
    Maybe the whole block,
    But I am afraid by the time you get this started and arrive at the fire location even a brick building would have burnt to the ground….
    I love it.
    As long as the priority is not putting out fires.

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  5. Anton



    Man, I’d love to get something like this to tinker with over weekends.

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  6. Jonathan

    “They didn’t do much to the body, other than straightening a few pieces out.” This is the corrected version of the sentence. Can you learn the difference?

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  7. z1 rider

    A friend of mine likes to deal in fire trucks. They are typically low mile vehicles or to quote him “they aren’t all worn out”. When they are taken out of service they usually get parked outside and the cosmetics suffer, but the mechanicals are often still very good.

    He owns a 1941 Ford firetruck that had 1800 miles on it when he bought it in 1998. That’s right, one thousand eight hundred miles in 57 years or about 32 miles/year.

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  8. paul

    Interesting engine.

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  9. bob

    Fire trucks typically don’t accumulate lots of miles , however the engine probably has many hours of use while running pumps etc.

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  10. Dr. Bull

    Very cool find! It does appear to have some odd characteristics though. There is no tank, no pump, and the rear body section looks as if the fenders were removed and the body slid forward (as evident by the paint wear on the sides and mods to the lower rear side panel behind the tire. It does have great potential especially with that extra chassis. I hope it finds a good home.

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  11. Dolphin Member

    I especially like 2 things about this:
    1. The name REO Speedwagon
    2. Those exposed rocker arms & valve springs on that beautifully curvy engine

    OK, 3 things:
    3. It’s a fire truck

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    • scot

      ~ Ransom Eli Olds, the only man with two American brand vehicles named for him. AND a great rock group!

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    This past summer I purchased a 1966 C80 Chevrolet Fire Truck from a small volunteer FD in Idaho 33,000 miles, no rust, the doors don’t sag. Has the Big Block 366 (yes 366 not 396) and she runs like a top. Drove it over 400 miles to my off grid cabin in Southern Ut got 7 mpg I used so much money buying gas for my Tahoe chase vehicle,and the Firetruck my Debit card got locked for “suspicious use” I love the truck, it is now my water truck, and have a pump to press her into service for a fire if ever needed.
    So, all of that to say I think EVERY guy should have a Fire Truck

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    • scot

      ~ the 366 is a torque monster. same crank and stroke as 396,402,427. different counter-weights maybe.

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  13. jim s

    i too think everyone should have a firetruck. great find

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  14. paul

    I’d like to give it a go at a local autocross event.

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  15. scot

    ~ if it were American-LaFrance we might have creative genius Gary Wales in the bidding mix.

    blonde to emergency dispatcher; ‘help, help, my house is on fire’.
    dispatcher; ‘yes,ma’am. how do we get there?’
    blonde; ‘duh, big red truck.’

    oh crap, she’s standing right behind me, isn’t she.

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  16. mtshootist1

    My brothers started a controlled burn company, so far we have about 27 fire trucks, mostly from GSA, a lot of 6x6s, five ton bridge trucks, Dodge M-37 weapons carriers, you name it. We use the trucks for controlling the fires. You have to have a thousand gallons of water supply for each active fire truck, so that means three trucks per side on a burn. Most hardly had any miles, we have more fire trucks than the county and they are big pieces of iron, I think the county fire guys are jealous…

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