Early Muscle! 1914 American LaFrance Speedster

“Engine:  Huge 6 Cyl.” Not a description we see every day. This 1914 American LaFrance Speedster likely began life as a fire engine or other work vehicle. A Duesenberg it is not, but if you fancy yourself perched atop a stripped-down truck chassis with a giant engine and mechanical brakes, and you enjoy the kind of excitement that can turn a milk run into a near-death experience, consider this Indianapolis, Indiana classic listed here on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $79,500. Special thanks to Matt W for this tip!

Before the V8 became the quintessential performance motor, inline engines like this six-cylinder ruled the automotive world with their torque and inherent balance. While the seller simply lists this engine’s displacement as “Huge,” other American-LaFrance engines from this time period used cylinders displacing 2.41 liters each, for a total of 802 cubic inches or 14.5 liters! Fire truck engines typically feature advanced cooling systems to let them run for hours pumping water while the truck remained stationary.

Jay Leno did not invent the idea of a giant-engined speedster with his Blastolene Special. There is at least one factory-built American LaFrance Speedster, an 802 cubic inch beast chronicled here at hooniverse.com. The concept of stripping a retired vehicle of unnecessary parts to create a lighter, faster reincarnation probably dates to about one weekend after someone scrapped the first used-up truck.

Fear not – the rear suspension appears unlikely to suffer any overload (or any evidence of load whatsoever) created by four passengers and luggage. There won’t be any ABS kicking in if you get too deep into this truck’s steamship-like torque and overcook a corner. Anyone planning to push this century-old hot rod to its limits should update their Last Will and Testament and stock up on Depends. Speedsters may constitute blasphemy among the Honorable Order of Fire Truck Nerds, but once a particular vintage of Fire Truck has been preserved and restored to museum quality, I see no problem with a speedster version. Even if this speedster came to life more recently, speedsters have their place in history, and this one includes mostly vintage parts. Do you have what it takes to click “Make Offer?”

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Comments

  1. craig sibert sibert Member

    Aint that chitty,,chitty bang bang

    2
  2. Dave Wright

    Great car but 10 years too new. I am looking for a London to Brighton car.

    2
  3. Tom Garan

    There actually was a car built by ALF and there’s even a Facebook site to them.
    https://www.facebook.com/AmericanLafranceSpeedsters/

  4. Dirk

    If it can fly, I might be interested.

  5. Coventrycat

    A true road locomotive.

  6. Rick

    Pretty sure you can still pick up old fire engines of this vintage for far less than the asking price and still have the same experience…

    4
  7. David Cassidy

    By far the best write-up I’ve ever read on here! I love it and I’m still laughing! Nice job, Todd!

    2
    • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

      Thank you David!

      1
  8. Dan in Tx

    Yes yes yes!

    1
  9. Rob's GT

    This is cool, but “larger rear sprockets for higher speeds” – I think not. That would give the opposite.

    2
    • Martyn

      Uh. No, increasing the size of the rear sprockets does indeed increase the speed, a lot.

  10. Jay E.

    I’m surprised that so may rear leaf springs were unnecessarily left in place. I would think one or two and a block would be plenty. I like the idea and execution of it. The Blastolene was invented by Randy Grub and purchased by Jay Leno. It is sort of a pinnacle of these oversized speedsters.

    3
    • Martyn

      A few more than one or two. But yeah, I’ve taken about half out of mine.

  11. FOG

    Wow, definitely a competitor in it’s own class for the Newport Hill Climb.

  12. Brendan

    Google Gary Wales. He is the undisputed king of turning these former fire engines into what he terms “La Bestionis”. He’s currently working on what I believe is the eighth edition. Unbelievable craftsmanship. He also specializes in Bentleys. He’s brought several cars to Jay Leno’s Garage to be filmed and driven for the show. I recently met him face-to-face at the Pomona roadster show – great guy!

    1
  13. Tony B.

    I have a 1926 Henney Hearse, that the body burned on, in 1931. It is a huge Packard chassis with the 6 cylinder Continental motor. I fully plan on doing exactly the same thing, since reproducing the wood hearse body, would be insanely expensive…

    1
  14. BronzeGiant Member

    Another sad butcher job. And to be clear fire engines can run for hours and stay cool because cold water from the supply to fight the fire is circulated thru the radiator by the fire pump to help cool it. With the pump removed from this rig that feature went with it.

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