Antique fire trucks are a serious passion for those interested in the hobby. Many folks across the country are collecting old fire trucks, a hobby which has been made much easier since the advent of the Internet and eBay in particular.
eBay and its many affiliates often have several antique fire trucks for sale on their sites, many of which are going for very affordable prices. They can also be very easily hauled to your house via truck, saving you the hassle of picking it up; this allows you to buy an antique fire truck from anywhere in the country.
So what’s the big deal about antique fire trucks? Why do people like them so much?
As with so many other collectibles, it’s mostly about nostalgia. Guys who grew up between 1935-1965 have great memories of the old fire trucks that they used to see when they were kids and miss those classic designs. The years between 1935-1965 are considered “The Golden Years” when it comes to fire truck hobbyists.
During these years, fire trucks had the old engine-ahead-of-cab design that is absent in today’s fire trucks. These trucks had a more classic look and were all uniformly painted, what else, fire engine red. Today’s fire trucks, on the other hand, are dismissed by fire truck enthusiasts as looking like “big, red cracker boxes.”
So what should you be looking for in an antique fire truck? Well, aside from the obvious things you want to check on, such as what kind of shape the body is in, if there is any damage to the frame or major rusting, you also want to look at the manufacturer.
Manufacturers such as Mack, American LaFrance, Ward LaFrance, Pirsch, Buffalo, Maxim, FWD, Seagrave, and Ahrens-Fox are considered to be the best manufacturers for this period by most fire truck hobbyists, though Maxim continued making great looking fire trucks well into the seventies, breaking the 1935-1965 mold.
The second tier of great fire truck manufacturers includes International Harvester, Ford, Dodge and GMC. These trucks were obviously made sort as an afterthought by these huge companies, but nevertheless they were great trucks. They are not considered as desirable as those made by companies that focused on manufacturing fire trucks, but definitely worth a gander if you are in the market.
So why would anybody want one? There are a variety of reasons why people would collect antique fire trucks, but to better understand it you could look at those who collect antique cars. These folks really belong to an exclusive club that loves the classic designs of days of yore. They enjoy restoring these old machines, displaying them, collecting them, and occasionally selling or trading them.
If you are the guy in town who has the antique fire trucks (and they are actually running), you can expect to be asked to be in just about every parade in town; or at least, your fire truck will. Also, oftentimes people see these restored machines and want to get in on the action themselves. Many times, restorers have fixed up a beat up old fire truck they bought and turned around and sold it for a hefty profit. This is actually quite common amongst antique fire truck enthusiasts. Where do you think all these old fire trucks come from?
In the end, whether you have memories of the old fire trucks of yesteryear or simply like the designs but are too young to remember seeing them on the road, antique fire trucks are desired by many collectors out there. From retirees who want a project to keep busy to car enthusiasts looking to branch out, there are many different kinds of people evolved in the antique fire truck hobby.
If you are thinking about getting into the hobby, get your feet wet by looking around on eBay or one of its affiliates; you’ll be surprised at how affordable this hobby can be. Many antique fire trucks are starting at about $1000 on many eBay auctions. If you have the know-how, you can easily purchase an old truck, have it delivered to you, and restore it. By the time you get done restoring it who knows what you could turn around and sell it for?
No one really knows until you try, but there are many antique fire trucks that have sold on eBay for over $20,000! Many fire truck enthusiasts make a business out of this buying, restoring and selling; it enables them to participate in their hobby and make a pretty penny at the same time.