Unlikely Rat Rod: 1946 Seagrave Firetruck

Ever since I owned one back in college, I’ve had an interest in old fire trucks, and to this day I still peruse auctions of retiring firetrucks, just in case something interesting and affordable catches my eye.  But I’ve often wondered, what becomes of most of those retiring firetrucks?  A lucky few are purchased by someone who has an interest in keeping them as collectibles, but most likely wind up stripped of their firefighting equipment and living more mundane, hard working lives as work trucks.  A third alternative that I’d never thought of until seeing this 1946 Seagrave, for sale here on eBay in Prescott Valley, AZ, is that they get turned into rat rods.

Seagrave was founded in 1881, and they still manufacturer firetrucks to this day, making them the oldest firetruck manufacturer in the United States.  I’m guessing that no one working there in 1881 could have ever imagined a truck like this one.  Starting with a 1946 firetruck, someone did considerable work turning this firetruck into a very unique rat rod.  So unique, in fact, that it was invited to attend the Concourse de Elegance in Santa Fe, NM, in 2014.

If the body and chassis work aren’t enough to set this truck apart, the engine surely pushes it over the top.  Powering this truck is a GMC twin-six, a 702ci V12 monster of an engine.  While it may look like two V6 engines bolted together, it’s actually constructed using a one-piece block with a single crankshaft, four V6 heads, four exhaust manifolds and two intake manifolds and carburetors.  With twelve pistons that are larger than those in a modern-day 502ci big block, this engine cranked out only 250 horsepower but was capable of 585 lb-ft of torque at only 1600 rpm when it was new.   GMC only made about 5,000 of these engines back in the early ’60’s for commercial use, and although it’s hard to imagine misplacing a 1500lb engine, far fewer are known to exist today.

Inside the cabin, things look much more tame than they do on the outside, although I’d suspect that feeling quickly changes once you set the truck in motion.  The seller mentions that the truck has a line lock so you can do burnouts with the 44″ back tires, but I’m guessing such shenanigans wouldn’t be necessary to get attention in this truck at your local cars ‘n coffee.  At the $27,500 starting bid, is this something you’d be interested in taking out for Sunday morning espresso?

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  1. Hoos Hoos Member

    I’m not a rat rod kind of guy, but I like this. For those of us that don’t have space for retired fire equipment, this is a neat way to utilize these vehicles. Not being familiar with rat pricing, it does seem to be a little steep.

  2. Howard A Member

    I’ll “risk” an early comment to get in on this one. 1st, in the early 80’s, my dad’s business partner bought a post-war Seagrave ladder truck, just like this. At 1st I was surprised at what they did to it, but any doubts were quickly dispelled when I saw that motor. 10 thumbs up!! Without question, the “Thunder V-12” was the most intense gas motor made, with dismal results. The V-12 Seagrave motor ( with dual ignition) would have been classy enough, but this motor puts it over the top. These were created when diesels were just gaining acceptance in the early ’60’s, but some still wanted a gas job, and GM created this. These had a voracious appetite for fuel ( some say between 2 and 3 mpg) while a diesel had more power and used half as much fuel. I love rat-rods, and this the coolest one yet!

  3. Fred W

    Not a huge fan of rat rods, but one look at that V-12 and they had me.

  4. Ron

    I’m not a big fan of rat rods either but I too love this thing. The engine puts it over the top ! For sure. Very cool.

  5. Erik S

    That has to be the most ugliest vehicle I’ve ever seen. Also, how is this a “barn find”?

    • Howard A Member

      I’m sure the builder would take that as a compliment. Reason it’s here, some people, like me, love to see this stuff. Thanks Lee for featuring it. The only thing missing, is the plaid valve covers.

      • wade

        here you go howard

  6. Neil G.

    Sorry. No bells or whistles here for me…

  7. AMXBrian

    Would have looked better as a pickup truck. I saw this in Mansfield Mass a while back. I thought it was ugly back then and it’s just as bad now.

  8. canadainmarkseh Member

    I’m in the not a rat rod fan but as said above this has all kinds of cool to it. This is a great way to repurpose an old fire truck the only thing I’d change is a set of duallies on the back to match the front wheels. I especially like the licence plate head liner very differant. I saw a similar rat truck at a car show about two years ago it was made out of an old dump truck and was made to appear as a welders rig. It had this old four cylinder diesel in it. To be frank it had the largest crowd around it at the show.

    • canadainmarkseh Member

      Foot note: not ugly, unique!

  9. Joe Haska

    Having been a firefighter for 31 years and a Hot Rodder forever and still, what’s not to like! Whenever you build a car, hot rod, rat rod, custom or anything that involves creativity ,you can be sure not everyone is going to like it! So what its your creation, and I think its great that people express their creativity, it doesn’t really matter if its liked by one or none, its the builders car, and his vision.

  10. 86 Vette Convertible

    When I saw pictures of Rat Rods many years back, I thought “What the Heck”?
    Over the years I’ve come to appreciate some of the artistic license some individuals have exhibited. These last few years I’ve seen an increasing number of Rat Rods at the MSRA show and actually like some of them. This one would fit right in. I like it, that engine alone makes it unique.

  11. UK Paul

    I likey.

  12. Scott Tait

    Not my scene at all .. but man …what an engine

  13. Steve

    And that hood ornament!

  14. wade

    and it should be good for 200k miles

    • Steve

      Good for 200K miles at 2 to 3 MPG!! That is a lot of burned fuel.

  15. Wayne

    I am a Rat Rod fan ONLY for the ingenuity that some of these builders show. Just to look at a beat-up hot rod I am not a fan. But I can spend a long time inspecting the whats, hows and whys some “artistic engineers” perform the things that they do.
    I spent a lot of time talking to a guy that that built one that used a Packard straight 8. It was the coolest thing ever. It used a modern throttle body fuel injection system. (That actually looked like some kind of rusted out cast iron plumbing nightmare!) He said he did a long drive with it “One time” and it got 29 mpg. The thing ran glass smooth and ideled at 350 rpm.
    Jerry can mufflers, bomber seats, frame rail exhaust systems the different ideas just never stop.

  16. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Boy, that engine just baffles me! One piece crank, 585 lb-ft of torque at only 1600 rpm. Gotta do some research. Anyway, I like it. And I thought I was being creative when I swapped shift knobs on my Willys. This guy is out there. Oh, and thanks for the photos Wade.

  17. TR Falstaff

    There is a warehouse in Wichita with a dozen of these skid mounted GMC V-12’s in it. They were used as power to pump water for center pivot irrigation in Kansas. The eccentric owner of them also has 2 complete GMC trucks with these in running condition along with a 32 Ford powered by a P-51 Mustang motor, and one of the last internal combustion powered unlimited hydroplane boats. He also built a Convertable Dodge Daytona cause he could. The wing look even taller with no top. He also has a movie car from a movie called The Wrath. As if that’s not enough his wife collects the fiberglass cows mounted on dual axle trailers used as steak house advertisements, interesting couple to say the least

    • S.Ryan

      The Wrath. It’s the Wrath Man.
      Thanks. Now I’m going to have flashbacks for a week.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Love the beer TR.

    • George

      Wasn’t it “The Wraith?”

  18. Beatnik Bedouin

    Maybe because I’m old and have had a passion for hot rodding for around six decades, I’ve never understood the whole rat rod scene (Traditional? My burro! cheeky grin) – this particular machine seems to have that typical Hanna-Barbera styling that rat rod builders go for…

    …I’d second AMXBrian’s suggestion, or perhaps build it into yet another ‘speedster’…

  19. KO

    Yes. Yes. A thousand times, YES!

  20. CanuckCarGuy

    Nice craftsmanship. I’m a fan of rat rods, and ultimately today’s rat rods are just modern versions of the early hot rods. Nothing has really changed… it’s still tweaks and mods from different cars onto another, but taken to 21st century extremes.

  21. Wayne

    2 to 3 mpg is pretty good. A R190 International prime mover with a black diamond 6 cylinder motor pulling a bogie trailer was lucky to get 3 mpg, with a motor half the size of this V12

  22. George

    I guess that at 2-3 mpg, they couldn’t afford enough gas to move it out of the garage for pictures…

  23. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended: Jun 08, 2018 , 10:16PM
    Starting bid:US $25,000.00
    [ 0 bids ]

  24. BronzeGiant Member

    That is so sad to see. What a terrible ending for a piece of fire-fighting equipment that spent it’s entire career protecting life and property. And to Rat Rod it to boot. I will NEVER understand the appeal of making it look like your vehicle has sat in a field with no-one to give a damn about it for the last half-century. I would rather it look like I cared for my property more than that.

  25. starsailing

    Like them or not, ex fire trucks turned into rat rods are big draws at the St Paul Mn back to the 50s Giant car show every June. Usually 3-4 done next to each other and people take photos of them more than anything else. For me it’s seeing engines reused that I never would have seen before. Those are some rare and monster engines.
    I see many Fire trucks on the back roads just rotting. Too expensive to restore…and store. You want to be noticed??…Buy this.

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