Buy Or Else: American LaFrance Firetruck

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Fire trucks don’t normally ring my bells but I hate to see a good rig put out to pasture before it’s ready. The seller of this American LaFrance says he needs it gone by the 22nd – otherwise, it’s going to the scrapyard. In this case, I don’t think it’s an idle threat as it seems like he is open to reasonable offers. The bottom line is, it has to go somewhere and it can’t be here. Find the listing here on, and then check out what else he has for sale below. 

I’m not sure what that lettering is supposed to spell out (the fire chief’s name, perhaps?), but it doesn’t help assign this truck to a particular municipality. The body looks very sound, and if it’s been in Utah all of its life, then the dry climate should help preserve that sheet metal. What looks like some sort of flywheel or other transmission component appears to be laid up on the running board, which isn’t surprising considering the engine has been removed.

The cab actually still looks quite nice. Despite the seller’s mentioning that it has sat for the last 20 years, it doesn’t look like that has happened outdoors. The gauges and dash panel don’t appear rusty, and the floors are either in impressive condition or have previously been replaced. The glass isn’t cracked and the surprisingly compact cabin is a reminder that fire engines didn’t always carry six or more firefighters. Also worth mentioning is that many of the attachments, including the vintage sires and spotlights, are still attached in the photos.

Now, here’s the bonus buy, if you will: the seller also has listed this old Chevrolet school bus here on This one is a bit worse off, as it has clearly been sitting in wet, swampy water for many years. However, with that classic Chevy front clip, it’s tempting to bring this one back as a restomod school bus that would certainly draw a crowd wherever it went. This one also has a date with the crusher of 4/22 if not removed before then – do you think these rigs will be saved?  Thanks to Barn Finds reader Wade for these cool finds.

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  1. BronzeGiant Member

    Albert Lea is a community in Minnesota, most probably the original owner of this rig. This is an American LaFrance 700 series pumper. One of the prettiest designs to come out of Elmira NY. This would have been powered by, most probably a Lycoming designed J model V-12. There is a bigger engine available but this was usually reserved for larger rigs and aerials. These can be repowered with Ford 534s or Detroit Diesels pretty easily. To see how much fun a piece of antique fire apparatus can be attend a muster if there’s one close to you and see how much fun pumping water or areial operations can be.

  2. RoKo

    I hope someone saves it. Seems such a shame an antique fire engine should meet such a sad end after years of faithful service.

  3. St. Ramone de V8

    That school bus has grown some serious roots there. Extracting it will be tough!

  4. Spridget

    The “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll kill this dog” of car sales.

    • streamliner

      Really appreciate this sentiment Spridget. Well said. Bang on. Several others here have also written similar things. This seller’s threat is torn right from the cover of National Lampoon, Jan. 1973. Sadly, in this case, I think he’s serious. Not so much a pushy sales tactic, but a sign of an ignorant seller. Unreasonable to expect a serious collector / enthusiast to drop everything and get out to Logan, UT on no notice to move these vehicles. For those who don’t know this reference, read this link:

  5. glen

    I don’t know how long he’s been trying to sell these vehicles, so maybe I shouldn’t get annoyed, but, I find it irritating when someone is threatening to scrap something in a few days after letting them sit for years.

    • CJay

      I agree, but maybe he’s selling the property and now it’s “move it or loose it”.

      • Glen

        Good point, I didn’t consider that.

    • streamliner

      Glen, the ad listing was dated. Posted April 14. This was 8 days from the April 22, 2017 deadline to remove, or he scraps vehicles. What is that? BF ran this posting 4 days later on April 18 — only 4 days from deadline. That is messed up. These vehicles have survived 60+ years, have served as a fire truck and school bus for many years, and yet their fate is that those of us in this community have no time to find a safe harbor to save these vehicles. Talk about unreasonable… Utah is a very big state. Lots of wide open spaces. There are plenty of places these vehicles could be moved to temporarily until a taker is found. I feel like saying to seller: Have you no shame?

  6. Sam

    I see artistic potential where the entire body could live on being re-purposed as various pieces of “man-cave” furniture.

  7. Ohio Rick

    If anyone like me once was presented Doepke pumper toy fire truck for Christmas they’d love to have this truck which is an almost exact full-size replica of he toy.

  8. Howard A Member

    Ah, the last resort for a desperate seller, buy it or else. As if that is going to change the “Neighborhood Assn.” rules on 40ft. rusting fire engines in the area. This rarely works out, especially open cabs. I suppose the bullet-proof mechanicals are still worth something, and some folks make cool units out of these,×667.jpg
    but for the average person, it’s just too much. Sayonara old friend, you served us well,,,

  9. Jeffro

    Go ahead and scrap it…I double dog dare ya!

  10. Dave at OldSchool Restorations Dave at OldSchool Restorations Member

    Priced too high…..

    Last year I paid 900 for this ’56 American LaFrance, and it drove off the transporter, and the huge dual plug 6 cylinder ran great.

    It’s being converted to a Vintage Car Carrier now. ( closed cabs are more desirable)

    • Puhnto

      Oh there, see. I happen to like the open cabs more and think they’re more desirable. I’ve always wanted a short, open-cab American LaFrance. This truck is right up my alley — or would be, if I had any money!

  11. PaulG

    This would make a great piece of playground equipment… 40 years ago, before we had to be so careful with our children

  12. BronzeGiant Member

    That bus is the same vintage and style for the Partridge Family. Could make a tribute vehicle for shows, etc.

  13. Dan

    Buy it RIGHT NOW for $1500 before I scrap it for $200. Don’t make me do it!

  14. Wade

    If you go to the ad, it actually shows the V12 pulled from the rig is included. I’m the one who submitted it but I don’t know what the story behind it is. I just hate to see a cool old pumper lost, and worst case that V12 would be a cool engine in a crazy rat rod if nothing else. Also, yes, Albert Lea is the dept. it came from though I’ve got no idea how it ended up in Utah?

    • RichS

      Pictures show engine, but ad text says: I have an old fire truck for sale. 1500 or best offer. No engine. Has trans. Sat for the last 20 years. Text or call for information. Will be scrapped on April 22

      • Wade

        I’m pretty sure it is included but not assembled or installed. I don’t know why he would have included pics of it otherwise, and he seems to be clearing everything out.

  15. Rodney

    The very definition of a “Fire Sale”.

  16. Keith

    “At Crazy Larry’s, if I don’t sell 20 cars by the close of business today, I’m gonna club this baby seal! I’ll club a seal to make a better deal! And you know I’ll do it, cos I’m crrrrrrrrrazzzzzzy!”

  17. Mr Skiles

    Pull the box and put an airstream camper body on it. Chop the windshield posts 5-6″ and make a carson style top. Lol

  18. Tyler

    Our local fire dept had several 50’s & 60’s era open cab American LaFrance trucks very similar to this. They finally transitioned to all enclosed cab trucks & took the last one out of service in the early 2000’s. Not sure about the others, but that last one had a 8-71 Detroit. Those Detroit engines have the most unique sound to them, it’s unmistakeable.

    For some reason, I want a fire truck, even though I have no idea what I would do with it. Hope it gets saved.

  19. Paul Schmitt

    I have a photo of the Albert Lea Minnesota rig from my 1974 Yearbook. She was a newer rig a that time and a number of us were sitting on the rig. I’d hate to see her cut apart but I don’t have the expertise to salvage it. I hope someone does.


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