Customize Or Restore? 1964 Seagrave Fire Truck

And now, something from the “What am I supposed to do with this?” department. Well, if you ever dreamed of being a fireman but couldn’t manage the rigorous training involved, here’s your chance to do it on the sly with this 1964 open cab Seagrave fire truck. It is located in Pleasant Plain, Ohio and is available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $4,850. There is a make an offer option too.

A few years back, an acquaintance stopped by my house with a very similar rig. It was a former Florida city fire truck, running obviously, and he was pretty proud of it. He and another guy had performed some minimal repair and he thought that I, being a car guy, would be interested in seeing it. I was, but the thought cloud over my head was “What in the world are you going to do with this beast”? He and another guy owned an outdoor storage lot, you know a place for boats and trailers, so he had a place to store it though its deleterious condition was unlikely to be improved parked out in the open in the Florida heat, humidity, sun, and rain. Anyway, he said something about converting the rear bed into a gigantic barbeque pit so it would be a sort of food truck to be used for special occasions. His plan would have been no mean feat as an extensive amount of metal fabrication would be required. And his Seagrave truck wasn’t in exactly great mechanical condition. Anyway, I wished him well, and off he drove, leaving a sizable oil splotch in the asphalt in front of my house. I have no idea whatever became of that truck, I haven’t seen it, or him, since that long-ago day.

So the question that I floated back then, would still be valid with this example, what to do with it? Well, for starters, this truck’s Detroit Diesel 6V53T engine starts and idles but the seller claims that the throttle pedal is rusted in place. Research indicates that the engine is a 320 HP, 5.2 liter, turbocharged diesel V6 with a 17.5:1 compression ratio. The Alison transmission, of unknown configuration, as the owner doesn’t specify, is bad so there’s a significant mechanical item that will require either repair or replacement.

Externally, we have a lot of steel! There is plenty of surface rust but it appears to be mild and the overall structural integrity, what can be seen, appears to be sound. The bulk of the body covers over the pump and all of the integral plumbing – none of which works. It looks like this truck received a whack in the back based on the bent rear shelf but with a makeover considered, or necessary, it probably doesn’t matter. The seller mentions, “I planned to pull the bed off of this and turn it into an open cab boat tail speedster” but I’m having a tough time visualizing that customization – I can’t see a speedster anything emanating from a start like this.

Inside, well there’s really not an inside, shows a weather-worn steering wheel and seats accompanied by a rusty instrument panel chock full of gauges and switchgear. What works and what doesn’t is not disclosed. One would probably need an extensive manual to figure it all out.

Lacking a certain amount of imagination, I’m seeing mostly scrap metal here, I can’t imagine that this Seagrave fire truck would be a good basis for something other than how it started life. But, I freely admit to my blinders when it comes to such matters. With what we know, what direction would you take this seemingly one-trick pony?


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  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    It is probably that rack that is stuck and not a rusty throttle pedal. If you don’t want a runaway, I definitely wouldn’t start this until the rack has been checked, lubed, and adjusted properly.

    Like 4
  2. Curt Lemay

    The sad truth is, too much to restore, and even then, only good for parades. I still wish to see these restored, but I can’t see someone like me doing it. Maybe a retired fire fighter has the love to do this, but where will he work on it and where will he store it? Going to take a special person to see this through.

    Like 11
  3. Gloin

    I thought that by 1964 fire trucks were more modern looking. I would’ve guessed this was a 1944 model

    Like 5

    food grade tank and poof you got a mobile beer truck

    Like 2
  5. Mike

    Go talk to Gary Wales about turning this into a 30’s deco masterpiece.

    It’s this guy that does those cars:

    Like 7
  6. local_sheriff

    Another cool yet useless space consumer. While I have no experience with any Seagrave I do however remember the 6v53 from my time in the army. It propelled the M113 family vehicles and I can still hear its characteristic high pitch angry roar when put under load! 😁

    Like 5
  7. Tom Bell

    I work (volunteer) in the restoration shop of the Nassau County NY Fire Museum. This rig would have been delivered with a Seagrave gasoline V12 engine and standard transmission. As the fire service began to move toward diesels in the 1970’s, many existing trucks were re-powered usually with Detroit diesels. This often included installation of an Allison trans. This rig may also have been re-bodied since the amount of rear overhang looks excessive and would have produced a really bad departure angle.

    Not much left here to work with. Unless the original department wanted to re-acquire it for historic and parade purposes, it may be an organ donor for someone restoring a more viable candidate.

    Like 8
  8. Joe Haska

    I was a big city Fire Fighter for over 30 years , this Seagrave is exactly like the first Pumper, I ever worked on. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. The mid 60’s to the mid 70’s weren’t the best years for Fire Trucks, after that the new equipment seemed to get much better and allot more expensive.
    The oxymoron in the Fire Service back then ,big departments have worse equipment and small departments have and volunteer’s have the best. Why? Big Department’s, paid Firefighters, biggest expense, smaller and volunteer departments, labor is free, all the money goes to the best equipment.
    As a retired Firefighter and proud of it, I have no desire to have a restored Fire Truck, would a retired Carpenter want a restored saw?

    Like 7
    • Howard A Member

      Thank you Joe, fire fighters were the unsung heroes until 911, then, they weren’t “basement savers” anymore. They were, and still are to me, heroes. Not overseas heroes, local folks that run in when I’d run out. Much obliged.

  9. Rob L Member

    I have one with the V12. Ether with the screaming V6 or 12 they are great for scaring the neighbors, not much else. I can visualize an open cab food truck

    Like 2
  10. Howie Mueler

    Yes cool, but what would you do with it?

    Like 1
  11. Bob Roller

    That V12 was a modified Pierce Arrow with heads that had 2 spark plugs per cylinder.The one our city had was a 1953 version and the city council in a burst of its usual stupidity scrapped two brand new and still in the crate V12 engines.I think they were rebored to 530 cubic inches from what the Pierce cars had.

    Like 1
  12. Gary

    As a kid, these old things made me gleeful with delight. I think I would still smile to see one drive by, esp if it was all spit polished up and glistening. See, that is why we still need rich people, so they can fix stuff like this up so we can all see it on display. I don’t know why some of you here seem to hate people with money so much.

    Like 2
  13. Howard A Member

    I look at these, in their dilapidated condition, and think, once you were so proud, look at you now. What to do? Again( and again), it’s useful time as is, has past. Some buy them for their own property protection, but that’s frowned upon. A), it makes the real firefighters look like chumps, and B), actually hampers the real fire fighters efforts. I’ve long thought, what is so wrong with old fire engines? New ones practically bankrupt city budgets, and they sit most of the time. The catch there is, when they DO need them, they need the best that’s out there, I suppose. The motor makes a great boat anchor, or carnival generator, and early Allison’s leaves much to be desired, but as a truck, it could be made into something. As the do-it-yourselfers die off, less and less people are doing that kind of thing, I’m sure welder sales are at an all time low. Just the way it is, not a chance.
    To answer Gary’s question, it’s as old as the hills. There will always be a disapproval for wealthy people from the poor. Wealthy people may have gotten their money through legitimate actions, yet the poor never see that, and just see these seemingly spoiled brats pixxing away what seems to be grandpas money, or something like that, and it’s just not fair. You’d never convince someone with money that, but they truly ruin it for the rest of us. The people with money live in a jaded world, and couldn’t live on $1200/mo. It’s why when they lose their money, they end up floating in their swimming pools.

    Like 4
    • Curt Lemay

      Walk a mile in a mans moccasins before you judge him, goes both ways. We all need more tolerance, and compassion.

      Like 1
    • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

      As always, spot on, Howard!

      Like 1
  14. Bob Roller

    If it weren’t for the rich and their investing in America and other places none of us would have much of anything.I would like to be able to write a check and have the bank bounce instead of the check but reality is what it is and I will not worry myself into an ulcer or anything else.

    Like 2

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