A Fire Fleet! Fire Trucks In El Cajon

Did you want to be a fire fighter when you grew up? Didn’t make it? Love to re-purpose old trucks? Here you go! Thanks to reader Woodie Man for this seriously cool fleet find! All four trucks are for sale here on craigslist, with prices ranging from $3,000 t0 $5,000. Unfortunately, the seller doesn’t detail which truck is which price! All I know is that they are seriously cool looking.

Moving from left to right, this is a General Detroit or General Fire Truck Corporation (same company, changed names) truck. It looks similar to this model that was used during World War II. No idea exactly what year it is, but since the company stopped building fire engines in 1955, that’s as new as it could be.

Second in line is this forward control Crown machine that obviously was used in Los Angeles. This one looks like the largest one of the bunch, and to be honest, apart from putting some type of box or platform on the back I’m not sure what to do with this one. At least it offers weather protection, versus the open ride on the first one. Crown was in business (mostly producing school buses) until 1991.

This GMC looks like the smallest one of the bunch, and of course GMC is still in business! This one is from the early 1950s, and I did find this conversion of a 1953 GMC truck like this to a mobile headquarters for a snowboarder! Very do-able if that’s what you are looking for. Personally, I think the front of this truck is quite intimidating, despite it being the smallest of the four here.

Finally, we have this truck, which to me has the prettiest lines of the four. From what I can tell, this is an early 1940’s Seagrave “waterfall” (named for it’s grille shape) truck, possibly a “Quad” based on this old website. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s beautiful. Unfortunately, it also looks to be the roughest of the four. And with an open cab, converting it to something useful will be a labor of love. But perhaps that’s exactly what you’re looking for! And if you’ve read this far, what did you want to be when you grew up? Or have you grown up yet?

Fast Finds


  1. John M.

    They remind me of a couple of Tonka firetrucks that I had in my much younger and I do mean my much younger days. This now big boy would like to take them all except like everybody else, I have bills to pay.

  2. BronzeGiant

    For those out there that are fire fighters, active and retired, or fire buffs that would take these rigs and restore them as is and NOT butcher them up into something else I would like to recommend an organization called SPAAMFAA. This stands for The Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Fire Apparatus in America. We have over 16000 members world wide who are dedicated to keeping the history of the fire service and the artifacts for fighting fire alive. There are many local chapters where knowledgeable people can be found to help with the restoration and operation of these unique pieces. Each rig is a one-of-a-kind designed by a specific fire chief to meet a specific set of circumstances and once cut up and turned into just another truck there’s nothing special about it any more.

    Like 1
  3. terry

    I’m 61 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi terry. You took the words right out of my mouth. I’m 63 and still playing with toys. Watching movies with the grandkids (I lost track of how many times I’ve seen Frozen and Pete’s Dragon). One day I’ll grow up but I don’t think their grandmother will let me….

    • Howard A Member

      Hey guys, I’m recently retired and am currently looking at used GoldWings. Act my age my a$$. :)

    • Ed P

      I’m 66 and still don’t know, but the toys are getting bigger and more expensive.

  4. RS

    Wow, I’m 61 years old and I’ll bet a few of these haven’t seen real duty since I was born.

  5. Ikey Heyman

    Yep, John M., a lot of guys feel like we do: no use for them or place to keep them…. but would love to have them!

  6. Woodie Man

    This piqued my interest as somewhere I have an old Polaroid of myself when I was about six sitting with my neighbor in an open cab Seagrave ( I think). He collected cars and a few fire engines which was kind of unusual as this was the early sixties.

  7. Steven

    Antique Volunteer Fire Department, cool old trucks.. Museum pieces for sure!


    Love my 66 C80 with 33k miles. Have a water tank on the back to haul water for my off grid cabin.

  9. Howard A Member

    These are fun to look at, but let’s face it, very few (here) will tackle these projects. Too expensive to fix and do you really want to drive around in a 40 foot vintage fire engine? ( take a football field to turn it around) It’s a shame, really, but there are so many used fire engines. And nothing wrong with them. At a recent parade in my small town, 2/3rds of the parade was fire engines. I just don’t know, fire engines are kind of a gray area. Marvelous to look at, but a pain to own and drive, especially vintage ones.

    • Clayguy

      Howard, these trigs ARE too expensive to restore, assuming you could find parts. However, none are 40 feet long. The LA City Crown is 25 feet. A pain to own and drive? Most are not a “pain” to drive or own. I have six rigs, drive ’em all and wouldn’t trade ’em for anything. Was too much fun to own and drive!

      Like 1
  10. Bill Flora

    The Seagrave appears to be a 38 – 40 quad, which means it Originally had a pump, water tank and carried a full complement of ground ladders. It would be about 36 ft long and unless modified, would take an acre to turn around. I’m presently starting a refurb on a 39 that looks like this.

    • todd abraham

      What happened to the V12 motor in your 1939? Did you use it or go modern motor so you could get parts? I’ve only seen gaskets sets for the 530 or 770 Not the early 462 motor. (530ci Head gasket is on ebay right now)

  11. BronzeGiant

    Closer inspection of the pictures shows me two different Crown Firecoaches (The cabover ones) One with a white top and closed cab and the other, the LA one with a “bikini” top and red posts holding it on. The noses and front bumper treatments are different as well……curiouser and curiouser.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Excellent observation, BronzeGiant! Perhaps they just picked a selection to show?

  12. AMX Brian

    Seagrave with an “A” not an “O”

  13. Jim Benjaminson

    We’ve got a ’47 Seagrave in our museum. Super long and as pointed out, takes the museum grounds to turn it around! Bear to steer when parking! That V12 engine stops everyone in their tracks.

  14. Pete Reilich

    wow that ’53 GMC custom camper is incredible . wonder how much he’d take for it, assuming

    but seriously, I’ve had my eye out for a truck that is “imposing” like that, but for the purpose of PROTECTION –as I’ve been hit twice by fool drivers -Vegas & Albuquerque.. the medics told me after the Vegas collision that my seatbelt saved my life, would’ve gone through the windshield -was pulling slowly out of a gated community with a stoplight & the dude ran the red, said the sun was in his eyes, plowed directly into the driver side door at 40mph, I was driving a 2001 Toyota Corolla while he was in a vintage ’73 Impala, hardly did much to his vehicle while my Toyota was totaled -I remember everything in slow motion, dude’s bumper was inside my car while I managed to somehow get out of the way, pushed me onto the divider 30 feet to my right, incredibly no serious injury

    so… I’m now a devout proponent of a universal 20mph speed limit …. just kidding … but def wanna spend the rest of my life driving a tank from now on.. you know, like maybe a ’59 Ford F-100, thick hide, sitting way up high, rumbling down the hill at 25 mph, Hyundais & Lexuses bouncing off me as I Mr Magoo it into town… ha

  15. todd abraham

    What happened to the Seagrave?
    Original engine?
    El Cajon Ca?

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