Near-New Apparatus: 1965 Dodge Power Wagon

It’s amazing what’s hiding away in firehouses across the USA. This 1965 Dodge Power Wagon isn’t the first low-mileage apparatus we’ve featured, but it sure is one of the nicest. With less than 12,000 original miles, this former pumper for the Sterling Fire Department in Ohio looks to have been stored in the back of the station and rarely called to duty. Find it here on Auction Zip, where the sale will commence on April 27. 

What do you think is the cause for vehicles like this Power Wagon remaining in museum-like condition? Was it purchased solely because there was some extra money in the budget with no real need for another rescue vehicle? Did it prove to be too cumbersome to use, or too crude? Or was it simply due to a lack of fires to fight? I’m sure one of our readers who worked in a firehouse could let us know, but it is nice to see these handsome rigs are at least taken care of even while they stand idle.

On that last comment, I mean cosmetically. I’ve got no clue if this Power Wagon received regular oil changes or not, and who knows the condition of fluids, hoses and braking components. Across the board, these fire rigs all seem to have the same pronounced brush guard in front, which I can never tell if it’s meant for a standing platform or just pushing vehicles out of the way. As you can see, the paint on the body looks fantastic and the full assortment of fire equipment regalia is still attached.

Sometimes, we’re quick to call out odometers for rolling over, but in this case, I believe it’s genuine. This Power Wagon is too clean for it not to be, and we’ve seen plenty of low-use firefighting rigs on these pages to know that more than a few rural community stations are hiding desirable vintage tin behind their walls. What do you think this nearly-new Dodge workhorse is worth?

Fast Finds


  1. BronzeGiant

    Fire apparatus stay in such nice condition because they are garaged in heated stations most of their lives. When they are in the stations they are always kept clean and ready for use. Firefighters are proud of their apparatus so they take the time to keep them clean and polished and as you never know when they will be needed, they are always kept in 100% operating condition. I’d say the brush guard on the front is to be used as a platform for firefighters to stand on when it’s being used as a grass fire rig. This is a great piece. Small enough for a normal or close to normal sized garage but still fun to use at musters and nice weekends to pump water. That’s the real fun with fire apparatus.

  2. Gunner

    Beautiful Powerwagon! Yes, I agree. This truck was loved! You could almost stuff that Rokon on the front you featured the other day!

  3. DrinkinGasoline

    This Mini Pumper was most likely used as a Grass/Brush rig due to the hose reel placement. Given how this one was up-fitted, it would be an easy conversion back, to use as a pickup unlike later conversions which require bed removal. My department still uses F450’s and 550’s with cab remote controlled front spray bars with sweeping nozzles. Gone are the days of riding the tailboard and straddling the front to “sweep the brush”.Nice PW !

  4. Richard Gaskill

    Seriously, you wonder about the reason for a brush guard? The 4wd and other equipment indicate this is a brush fire truck. Mileage on fire apparatus gives no indication of how many hours the engine ran running pumps at fires.

    • DrinkinGasoline

      The deep front step bumper served as a platform and the brush guard served double duty as a safety rail. Once the grass or brush fires were knocked down, it was common practice for FF’s to stand on the front bumper and literally “sweep” the area with long handled brooms to expose hot spots. We still carry brooms to this day on our rigs. Most fire apparatus incorporate Hour Meters for service reasons since the mid 1950’s and some even prior. The NFPA has required them as well as only certified technicians being able to service fire apparatus since the 1980’s.

    • Mike

      Who cares, lol?

  5. Sam

    Great vehicle! There was a lot of “one upsmanship” between my home-town on Portage In and nearby village of Ogden Dunes. We had a Dodge Polara 3 seat wagon with a stretcher…they had a Power Wagon, similar to the find. We also had a Cadillac ambulance and open cab Mack pumpers. Ogden Dunes upgraded to a Hummer conversion brush vehicle. We had Impala sedan police cars…they had an Olds Delta 88 sedan.

    The Power Wagon was very useful for field fires or brush fires in the sand dunes.

  6. Greg

    I bought an 67 f800 pumper with less than 20k original miles with all the bells n whistles attached for 4k a few yrs ago. I sold all the bells sirens etc and paid for the truck. Used it to haul water for me n my neighbors then sold it for the same 4k . old fire trucks are great buys

  7. Woodie Man

    Hmm it looks like it has modern light bar. Wouldnt a ’65 originally have had a gumball? Super cool.

    • Don

      Yes in 65 , it was not just used in 65 it has been updated 😬

  8. angliagt

    Here’s a picture of the ’60 Chevy Apache 30 that I bought from
    a neighbor for $1750.It only had 5100 miles on it.235 – 6,w a 4 speed.
    It was the coolest rig,but couldn’t stand to see it sit in the rain
    & rust away in the Winter,so I sold it.

    Like 1
  9. Matt Member

    my local fire department has a 69 4 door power wagon in bright green (was a forestry division truck in the 70s). 318, 3 speed, 4 wheel drive (factory?) rust free!

  10. Todd Zuercher

    When I first saw the lettering in the lead photo, I wondered, “could that possibly be from Sterling, OH?” Lo and behold it was! They must not have had this beautiful rig out in the Ohio winters much or it would’ve rusted away in short order.

  11. joeinthousandoaks

    Probably not a lot of grass fires in the winter.

    • Dan Bowles

      Running on a department in rural southern Michigan, during winter months our grass rig was dispatched in front of the ambulance to give a track to assure the ambulance could get through behind us. Rural roads were always questionable. We ran the grass rig more in the winter than the summer some years.
      Dan Bowles
      Captain (retired)
      Station 77
      Lenawee County, Mi.

  12. Howard A Member

    The mileage concern always comes up, and I’m quick to dispel that myth ( again), fire trucks are exempt from that. However, Richard has a good point, this motor idled for hours and hours, probably 6 miles from the firehouse. With less and less cigarette smoking,( #1 cause of brush fires, I read) brush fires have retreated some, but still do a ton of damage (Look at Florida) Again, same thing, unless you plan to be a “brush fighter vigilante” of your own, I’d probably strip the thing down, do the needed valve job, and run it. You’ll never find a “civilian” truck like this.

  13. Blackta1

    Not trying to offend anyone who collects fire equipment but I agree with Howard, I think the value here is in converting it back to as close to a “civilian” truck as possible. Great truck!

    • DrinkinGasoline

      No offense taken, at least not by me anyway. I agree. This one would be any easy strip to make it a very cool classic pick-up for occasional use and cruise-in’s.

  14. Lincolnluvr

    I live about 12 miles from this town and I can tell you honestly that the small town that this comes from is a “don’t blink or your’e through it” kind of place. A nice small farm town. The miles are 100 % legit. because the only thing that goes on in the town are the trains passing thru it. Anyone wanting a great solid piece of American machinery this is the one.. I’m sure the fire dept had the fluids changed and up to schedule since there are a couple of garages in the area for it to be done. Not sure what the price will be out of it but its truly a great truck !

    • Todd Zuercher

      I was born 14 miles away in Wooster!

  15. RNR

    Now if you can turn up the ’65 A990 Hemi Coronet that the Islip NY FD turned into a drill truck……

  16. Josh Glessner

    We used the front guard as a place to stand while the truck was moving during field fires, etc. I was in the rig when it rolled over 10,000 miles. The truck was used as our grass truck in recent years and it rarely saw any action in the winter. It was certainly very well maintained over the years.

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