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Japanese Fire Truck: 1991 Mazda Bongo Brawny

Like law enforcement vehicle collectors, there are people who collect fire-fighting-related vehicles, such as this 1991 Mazda Bongo Brawny Fire Truck. They’re always interesting to see, at least for those of us who are into vintage Japanese vehicles. The seller has this example listed here on eBay in Citrus Heights, California, just northeast of Sacramento. The current bid price is $3,350, there is no reserve, and there is only a day left to get your bids in!

I really like these vehicles but I don’t need all of the fire-truck-related equipment. It may be sacrilege to those of you who would rather keep the fire equipment and extra racking systems in the back and add to it to really bring it up a notch so it appears ready to help to battle a fire. I’d rather just have the twin-cab four-door pickup for hauling oddball motorcycles to shows.

The Mazda Bongo Brawny is almost a laughably-unusual name, at least for those of us in the US who didn’t get this model at our Mazda dealerships. They are tough trucks despite their somewhat small and non-brawny appearance, at least compared to the typical American pickup that’s giant and more luxurious and quiet than a luxury car was a few decades ago.

The Mazda Bongo Brawny was the long-wheelbase version of the Mazda Bongo and even though I poke fun at those folks who say that they need to have four doors on their pickup, it is super handy for hauling people and just general stuff that you don’t want to throw in the back and expose to the elements. The underside looks almost like new which is amazing for a Japanese vehicle of this vintage that spent most of its life actually in Japan.

The seats in this baby look like all of my socks back in the late-80s, but the whole interior appears to be in great condition. The back seat can fold up out of the way but it doesn’t look like it really gives that much more room for hauling things than keeping the seat folded down. The seller says that this “crew cab pickup was once a small town fire truck in the Asakita Ward of the Hiroshima Prefecture of Japan”, and it has fewer than 6,000 miles. It really looks like a nice one other than having a little ding in the “nose” that hopefully can be massaged out.

Kudos to the seller for adding a ton of photos! And, even an engine photo – nicely done, seller. The engine is Mazda’s F8, a 1.8L inline-four with around 80 hp. That isn’t a lot of power and this l’il rig still weighs around 3,000 pounds so it isn’t a micro truck by any means at 14.5-feet. Showing an engine photo is fantastic but, unfortunately, they don’t mention how or even if it runs. Hopefully, it runs as great as it looks, I’d have to assume that it does. Are any of you into fire trucks or collecting law enforcement or fire equipment vehicles?


  1. unclemymy Member

    I know there’s a difference, but I wonder if it would be kosher for me and my buddies to run Chinese Fire Drills on this Japanese Fire Truck?

    Like 12
  2. Howard A Member

    Asian fire drill, serious this time,,,I swear, poor Asians took a lot of unwarranted crap over the years. Quite frankly, aside from the color, I don’t see any evidence of it being a fire truck. I’d have to think registering it would be fun.

    Like 3
  3. Todd Fitch Staff

    Sweet find, Scotty! You had me at “Bongo Brawny.” You may have to out-bid Mr. Duncan for this one. I’m thinking LS swap and hit the drifting circuit. Kidding of course. Since the hose reel or tank or whatever that slid out of the back is gone, I’d vote for a flat tray you could slide out, toss on your potting soil or 4x8s or whatever, and slide it back in. Could be good for a sliding tray of hunting dogs too. A ’91 would be classic in most states so you could probably do whatever you want within reason.

    Like 2
    • Sunshine

      Wrap it to make a great promotional work vehicle for a local pressure washing proprietor. Room for all your hoses, equipment, and “pumpers.”

  4. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking truck. It’s a damn shame that Mazda never officially offered this for the USA market. I can see this being used as a fire truck for city or rural areas. I’d offer a 3.0 litre turbo diesel engine.

    Like 2
  5. connbackroads

    Too bad it’s on the left coast . . . I have a Mazda B2200 with a Perkins/5speed that wants to donate its drivetrain to this vehicle :-(

    Like 2
    • Dan Benoit

      I bought this bongo and would love a mini Perkins!

      Like 1
      • Connbackroads

        Are you close to CT?

  6. Rick Member

    When I was in Costa Rica some years ago, there were many Bongo vans. I would love to have one just for the name.

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