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Lights & Sirens Working! 1942 Ford Coe Fire Truck

The Ford COE (Cab-Over-Engine) trucks were versatile workhorses, used in everything from agriculture to dump trucks to fire engines.  This 1942 Ford Fire Truck falls into the latter category and was recently acquired by the seller from a private collection of about 20 fire trucks, with the prior owner having it in his possession for more than 30 years.  If you’ve been looking for an unusual project or just something unusual to drive to your local car show, this one may be worth checking out.  It can be spotted here on eBay with a current bid of $10,100 and a reserve, or you can buy it today for $22,000.

The seller believes the previous owner purchased this vehicle as surplus directly from the Endicott, New York fire department, and although he doesn’t specifically mention anything about paperwork the fact that there’s a 1991 New York State registration sticker in the window seems to back up the claim that it may have been sold that year and stored for the next 30 years.  If it was in active service from 1941 until 1991, this thing must have helped put out a lot of fires over a 50-year period!

Right next door to my home is a fire department, and when I stare at those modern-day fire engines I’m amazed at their complexity and sheer size.  I’m finding the simplicity of this vintage fire truck to be pretty cool.  There’s only room for two firefighters in the cab, but several more could have crawled into the bed if needed for a multiple-alarm response.  The hoses are even still back there!

The seller has owned this vehicle for about a year, and during that time he has gotten it back into running and driving condition, including putting quite a bit of work into the brakes.  He’s also added new engine water pumps, greased the wheel bearings, added a new PerTronix ignition system, cleaned out the fuel tank, and done a lot of cleaning on the wiring contacts and switches.  He states that the fire engine is still not perfect but does seem to start and drive pretty reliably.

We get a couple of pictures from down under, and while there’s some moderate surface rust everything we can see underneath looks decent, with nothing glaring jumping out as an immediate cause for concern.  While it may not be putting out any more fires in the future, the lights and sirens are still working and this seems like a suitable acquisition if you’re into collecting novelty vehicles.  What are your thoughts on this 1942 Ford Coe Fire Truck?


  1. Cadmanls Member

    Cool old truck, just what would you do with an old fire truck? Very limited collector vehicle. Can’t see the seller getting the 20K he is looking for. Cab will most likely be moved to another chassis and the rest sold off as scrap. May shortened up it may survive bat as is don’t see too much of a future. Pump is most likely locked up. Wish the seller well.

    Like 6
    • Bubba

      Pull that bed and put a jerr-dan on the back…cool
      Upgrade the drive train of course…cool.

  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    Very nice! About the only thing you could really do with this is show it. Of course you could always modify the bed and repurpose it. My biggest fear is seeing this truck sacrificing its cab to go onto a Dodge/Cummins chassis to become yet another one of those COE marvels at the car show.

    As it is it sure won’t be a speed demon. I see a single speed rear axle and it’s likely going to be using a Warner T-9 crashbox so not only will it be limited to 40-45 mph, you’ll hear the whine of that transmission. But what a way to go!

    Like 10
  3. Cam W.

    Old fire trucks are cool, but have a very small market due to their very large size. They Must be stored inside, or deteriorate rapidly. The pigment in red paint is especially vulnerable to fading and turning to pink chalk when exposed to the elements. The driveline parts are big and heavy requiring specialized heavy tools and equipment to service. If the pump is to be used (perhaps for irrigation or construction) it must be kept drained, heated, or otherwise protected from freezing.
    This truck will need major $ spent to bring it up to show condition, and even then it is not a particularly desirable model.
    I have seen some modified with bench seats in the hose bed for parades, and others with BBQ grills installed as food trucks.
    Trucks like this are more common than you might think, and the going price is about $5,000.
    In most jurisdictions, this is a “commercial vehicle” and will have to pass regular mechanical safety inspections to be driven on the road. It will likely take at least another $5,000 + in tires, brakes, etc to pass a safety.

    Like 9
  4. Moondawg00

    For the right Fire Department, this would make a great Parade Vehicle and part-time hose truck.

    Like 2
  5. Fernando

    I would convert in to a platform tow truck, to haul cool classic cars to the expos

    Like 1
  6. Tom Bell

    In my other life I operate a fire department pumper. The chauffer and officer ride in the cab, the other guys stand on the back step holding on to the hand rail. Miss those days.

    Sadly, most cabovers seem to fall victim to the car and truck butchers. As noted above, the market for a rig like this is limited. Short of Endicott FD re-acquiring it for restoration as a parade piece, its future is grim. Geomechs is on point in his comments.

    Like 4
    • Mark

      The days of riding the back step are unfortunately long gone! I did that many times and it never got old, it was really tiring however on long mutual aid runs! Those days were eliminated by safety concerns and that’s 1 of the reasons that new trucks have gotten so huge! Of course I also have gotten so complex they are currently broken down for various issues whereas old trucks like this never had any problems! Just another example of how modern doesn’t always mean better!

      It does look like the water tank is been taken out of this truck and that’s why the hose bed area looks so huge! That’s not surprising because water tanks rust out quite easily.

      Like 3
  7. George Birth

    Not a bad looking old fire truck , but main use today for these old trucks are car shows and parades. If the water pump still works it could be used as an educational tool to show at schools or train new fire fighters so as not to tie up more modern trucks in case of an emergency. Price is a bit too steep for most people.

    Like 1
  8. healeydays

    I’d chop it up and make it a mobile BBQ smoker

  9. Jay E. Member

    The comments are on point, but this truck seems better than most and should get some additional bidding. It is a very attractive design with flowing clean lines. The trim under the windows is remarkable. The mechanical are much simpler than modern truck so the maintenance will be easy. No outside hose reels, hose hook ups, simple valving and minimal piping will make winter maintenance easier. It does look like it will draft and put out quite a bit of pressure so it must have a powerful pump. Perhaps it could be part of a fire prevention effort as a stationary pump[ on a rural property? Pretty expensive for that though. It is a cut above for collectability and may escape the COE fate.

    Like 2
  10. jim

    The only value is in the cab and it does have a title I dont think it will top out much more than it is bid on now

    • Mark

      While I agree it probably won’t go for much more than his bid right now, in value with much more than just the cab! It’s much more valuable as a fire truck than it would be just as a cab with nothing on the chassis!

      • jim

        Put the cab on a modern one ton truck a few have done that with good results Find a late model salvage 1 ton truck that has cab damage do the swap the way you like and away you go a lot of smiles per mile

  11. Tom

    With total respect for this truck and its history, it lacks any practical purpose in today’s world. I own and show a few cars and would love to make this into a high-class car hauler. With its new purpose and the age of most cars at the shows, it would once again be in a place of pride and respect. I firmly believe cars/trucks etc. are more than inanimate objects. This guy wears its heart on its sleeve (fenders) and deserves a chance to prove itself…

    Like 2
  12. Troy

    Kinda looks like the fire truck from the movie CARS

  13. BCB42

    Two words:
    Firehouse Pizza.

    As in a mobile pizzeria…

  14. John D Bellmore

    One must also consider that it is a WW2 truck. Civilian production in war time was very limited. So it is a very rare truck by the date it was built. There are a group of us old truck fans that like them just the way they were built, fast or not, practical or not. Really how many hotrods are “practical”? I have a stock 1934 Model BB 2 ton truck. Works just as hard today as in 1934. Carries tree trunks, limbs, building supplies. So if you have a big farm and need a pumper irrigation truck put it back to use. Just keep it in the barn if you want it shiny.

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