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Fire Truck Museum Sell-Off!

A collector of antique fire engines and related equipment has posted his stash on craigslist, announcing that it’s time to thin the herd. The listing reflects years of collecting, as it extends beyond the typical vintage fire truck apparatus and goes deep into toys, display models, vintage children’s coin-operated rides, and more. The parts of the collection that are up for sale are owned by the Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum in Bay City, Michigan, and you can find all of the trucks for sale here on craigslist. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ikey H. for the find.

This mini truck is the first one that caught my eye, and it looks like a Cushman three-wheeler (it may not be – just a guess). It’s sort of ironic that in a sea of large, heavy-duty trucks, the tiny trucklet is a stand-out. The museum bills itself as being home to the “…world’s largest and most famous fire truck,” known as the FDNY Super Pumper. There’s one picture of it on the museum’s website, and it looks like a monster. I don’t think that one is for sale at the moment, but given the size of the collection (literally and figuratively), I’m sure the seller could use more space for the rigs he chooses to keep. The trucks appear to come from all over the U.S. in terms of the cities and towns they formerly served.

According to the listing, this is a 1959 GMC that has been restored. It certainly looks the part, but I’m honestly surprised it was redone – so many of these trucks live such benign lives at the hands of fire departments around the country, racking up relatively few miles over the course of their tenure with a fire department. Deer Park is located on Long Island, and I can’t help but wonder how many years it was in service before being sold off at a municipal auction sale and perhaps even used as a contractor’s commercial vehicle. Who knows – it’s just great to see it in in-service condition with all of the various fire fighting equipment and fittings still attached. Take a look at the background of the photo – there must be thousands of pieces of firefighting memorabilia in the museum, if not hundreds of thousands.

The list of fire engines that are for sale includes the following: 1942 Seagrave tank; 1946 Mack pumper; 1948 Mack tank; 1947 International; 1948 American LaFrance ladder; 1958 American Lafrance tractor; 1968 Aerial; 1959 GMC light truck; and a 1965 GMC pumper. Prices are said to start at $3,500 and the seller notes that most of them have not been run in 20 years and can “…make for some nice projects.” This is perhaps the challenge of owning such a vast collection: if you’re not a millionaire, and/or can’t afford to hire a part-time mechanic, the exhibits will begin to stagnate. This is likely especially true of massive vehicles that are difficult to maneuver in and out, with the exception of kiddy toys like this that look far easier to manage in large quantities.


  1. Howard A Member

    Seems an awful shame. Lack of interest. At a recent car show, our small town was displaying their restored 1911 Kissel engine( that was leaking coolant), I was the only one looking at it. Some nice iron here, the GMC will go quick, and restored could mean a “light” restoration, mechanicals take a beating from long idling periods. Aside from a museum, I think the older ones will go, but what do you do with a 40 foot ladder truck in so-so condition?

    Like 10
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    The GMC will probably go quickly because it can be repurposed but what do you do with the LaFrance truck? Our club restored a ’47 LaFrance going onto 20 years ago now. It looks great but all it can be used for is parades. Rather tragic IMO…

    Like 14
    • Matt Trummer

      Geomechs I found a La France American and it needs a home. Please let me know if you can help save it from a crusher. Send an email to me for pictures at matt.trummer@gmail.com

      Like 1
    • Rick Billmyre

      Did the LaFrance fire engine go? I know its been a year ,I am looking for one.

      Like 0
  3. IkeyHeyman

    Someone will definitely take the Tonka Toy trucks, I’d be interested if they were local.

    Like 1
  4. Bob McK

    Sad, but a museum is one of the worse places to put any kind of motor vehicle unless they use them often. When sold. They are usually mechanical nightmares.

    Like 2
  5. local_sheriff

    An orgy of vintage lights, beacons and mechanical sirens…great find for every old boys! 👍

    Like 3
  6. Ken Carney

    Like the ’59 GMC contractor model. It
    resembles the trucks they used on the
    Rescue 8 TV show in the late ’50s. It
    could perhaps, be reused as a paramedic
    rig for some small town that is unable
    to afford an ambulance. When I was younger, it wasn’t uncmmon to see small
    town fire departments using 30, and
    sometimes 40 year old fire trucks to fight
    fires there as many small departments
    were priced out of the market for new
    equipment. I saw this a lot in the South
    back in the early ’70s when I was playing
    music there before moving to Florida in
    1986. Even then, the Polk County Sherriff’s department was using worn-out
    1978-79 Chevy nova 9C1 models because the county was dirt poor and
    couldn’t afford to buy better cars for their
    deputies to patrol in. Used to see ’em
    being towed to the nearest garage most all the time in those days. No wonder they had so much crime in this area when
    my wife and I moved here!

    Like 5
    • Mountainwoodie

      Love the reference to Rescue 8…….one of my favorite shows as a kid……that and Whirlybirds :)

      Though what I remember from Rescue 8 is a ’59-’60 Ford panel ambulance .

      If the GMC is 3500- I’m in………

      What a great place!

      Like 2
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Rescue 8! Now that’s a memory that I hold right next to Highway Patrol and Cannonball. I always think of a ‘58 or ‘59 GMC panel truck in that, other than Bell 47 and the co-ordinator with the sunglasses. I found the entire collection of Highway Patrol on YouTube and watched them all during lunch breaks. Only found one Cannonball and just clips from Rescue 8. Me for the good ol’ days…

        Like 1
  7. Kim

    As a firefighter I see a lot of American LeFrance trucks. In the fire world it is a common sight. In this generation they usually had Wackasha gas engines, was easy to get parts for or they were repowered with 6L71 Detroit diesels. The kiss of death for them was rust. With all of the compartments the rust pockets outnumbered the bolts on the truck. The primary interest in these are parade trucks for FD bagpipe bands or firefighters union event and funeral trucks. The convertibles are the hardest to find.

    Like 1
  8. Jay

    I’m holding out for the Johnny Gage and Roy Desoto Dodge rescue truck

    Like 0
    • Mike

      The REAL Squad 51 and 2nd Engine 51 are restored and living in a replica of Station 51 (actually Station 127) in the LA County Fire Dept. Museum. Squad 51 was always my favorite “character” on Emergency. He really seemed to love running red lights with Roy at the wheel, sirens blaring and Engine 51 following close behind blowing the air horn!

      Like 3

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