Cherry On Top: 1955 International Fire Truck

There are often well maintained low mileage fire trucks for sale. They have usually been kept inside, are not often rusty and usually priced very reasonably. The problem usually is, what can you do with a fifty-foot long vehicle? Here’s an International based on the R series truck that while it won’t fit in your garage, it’s not a half a city block long. It’s listed on eBay for $6,800 in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.  It sat for many years, but the seller had it running and driving last year. It looks completely original down to the pin stripes.

Inside is exactly what you’d expect to see. It’s well worn but all there. the turn signal switch is the only obvious addition. Hopefully, it’s all as solid as it looks.

This old engine looks like it’s ready for a fire. Those hoses have likely rotted away and can’t be trusted. The pump might even work, it did last year. There is potential here I think. The seller suggests rat rod, but I’m not seeing it. Some theme park might even want it, but as a fire truck, likely just parade duty. Otherwise, with some serious mechanical upgrades to the engine and brakes, a cool car hauler perhaps. Do you think there’s any potential for this old truck?

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  1. Mike

    You know, there is actually a national organization for those of us that own vintage fire apparatus. Check out It kills me that all anyone wants to do is make a rat rod or a car hauler out of a piece of history. Unlike most of the barn finds that are posted here, you can generally trace the history of these vehicles. The departments they belonged to, the fires the fought, etc. We need to preserve our history, not destroy it.

  2. Mountainwoodie

    I wish one would pop up on the West Coast. Where I live high in the mountains, the fire danger is particularly high right now. A small truck you could keep would be very useful. A Binder is certainly different and this one with all its gear is unusual. Darn

    • Brad C

      You’d certainly be the first I’d know who would use one of these for its original purpose. Stay safe.

    • David

      There are often smaller fire trucks for sale in Northern California in the gold country and around Angels Camp and Sonora. I wrote one up recently and the last time I looked it hadn’t sold.

  3. Howard A Member

    Evansville is a small community south of Madison. It’s a darn shame nobody from that town, would keep this for parades and such. Just shows, 20 years ago, that’s what this truck did. Now, nobody cares. I say, it’s in such great shape ( I had a ’53 pickup, and those parking lights always rust away) yank the fire body, and make a cool dump truck or something, but as is, it’s useless now. It’s ok, plenty of fun left in this old gal, just not as a fire engine.

    • Howard A Member

      Further research shows, this is a model R176 ( apparently, IH used “6” at the end for fire trucks). It more than likely, has the Silver Diamond 240, a heck of a motor, just not too fast. Wouldn’t this be better than some clunky fire truck?

    • BronzeGiant Member

      If you think this is useless now, talk to the members, all 16000 of them, who belong to SPAAMFAA. The Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Fire Apparatus in America. I think they’d beg to differ with you on your opinion of antique fire apparatus. There are plenty of events year round where we have plenty of fun using these pieces of history for their intended uses. Each piece of fire apparatus is a one-of-a-kind because each piece is built to meet a certain set of specifications set down by the department or fire chief that ordered the piece and since every situation is different, every piece of apparatus is unique. When someone turns one into a run-of-the-mill dump truck, for example, a piece of history is lost forever.

  4. Mike

    What in the heck does everyone seem to have against fire trucks? I own four of them. There is a national organization (SPAAMFÀA) that is just like the ATHS and AACA. As a fire truck this has value and history. As anything else, it has none.

    • BronzeGiant Member

      AMEN fellow SPAAMFAA member!

  5. Jay E.

    I too would use it as a fire truck. If you live a couple of miles off a paved road, any BLM response is going to be a while. Having a firetruck like this can make a big difference if you can stretch a hose from a nearby road. So often the firetrucks for sale are purely city trucks, but this one looks like it could handle a dirt road as long as it wasn’t too soft and if it has low gears. I would imagine this one carries 200 gallons, perhaps less. If the truck has been stored inside the hoses still might pressurize as well, they are rubber coated on the inside. New hoses are expensive! I think the price is optimistic and it is too far from me, but at 2k I’d be a buyer as cheap insurance.

  6. Gavin

    Why do so many want to destroy the history of a fire truck?
    With such a complete one as this, I find it hard to understand why someone would “yank the fire body” and then fit a tray body on. What attracts most attention at shows, a tray truck or a fire truck? How many tray trucks enter parades unless dressed up with a theme? Add to that, this one is a small pumper, so could have an extended life on a rural property. Great vehicle for someone.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Gavin, it’s not that I have anything agin fire trucks, was my 1st toy, a Tonka “Hydraulic” hook and ladder, it’s just, they are good for 2 things, fighting fires and parades, neither of which we have a lot of in N. Wisconsin. The attraction in an old fire truck for someone who actually wants to USE an old truck,( and can’t find one under $10g’s) a fire truck provides a perfect starting point, as most of these, as regular trucks, are pretty shot. I’d think in a fire prone area, a tank truck, of some sort, would be handy, save the farm, it might, but water in the Midwest, is not a rarity this year, we have plenty, and if you think you are going to take something like this way back in the lower “80” to fight a fire, I don’t think you’d get far. I love fire trucks, but as a low mileage, rust free, 1 1/2 ton, cab and chassis truck, they can’t be beat,,it’s all that’s left.

  7. Ron D.

    I say exactly what it is, back original, as a small pumper, yes parade duty, with a little work on the side.

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