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Hagerty Employee

This fleet of fully functional vintage firetrucks is ready for adventure

For three decades, I ran an auto repair shop in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. At some point—long enough ago now that I can’t remember—I joined the Dewey Fire Company of Hellertown as a volunteer. The company dates back to 1898, and they named it after Admiral George Dewey for his victory at Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War. As far as I know, he had no connections to Hellertown and probably never even heard of the place, but he was a hero back then, so it stuck.


I own a pretty eclectic collection of vehicles, but I’m particularly connected to four trucks I bought from the fire company: a 1959 American LaFrance 900 Series pumper, a 1976 International 1700 rescue truck, a 1977 American LaFrance Century Series pumper, and a 1989 Hahn pumper ... Read the full article on


Intermediate Driver

The city of London, Ontario had a fleet of 700 and 900 series LaFrance trucks .Most were housed in single bay fire stations. I well remember as a kid admiring them sitting out in front of the station. Thanks for triggering the recollections.


They had to buy new fire trucks because the younger guys "couldn't drive stick".


That really says it all about where we've got to....


I've never seen a gear pattern like that before--with 4th over 3rd. I wonder how many times I would shift 1, 2, 4 before getting the muscle memory right. 🙂 

New Driver

First world problem: can't drive a stick. Third world problem, don't have 640,000 American dollars. Ever think of donating...? These units look like they could still work for a living, do they time out of service or are declared obsolete, wear out?


That 4th over 3rd gearshift pattern was very common on trucks of that era. If I remember correctly it was a Fuller Roadranger transmission and they did it like that because they wanted to add a fourth gear without making the transmission housing any bigger, and that was the only way they could fit it in. In over-the-road trucks it was usually combined with either a 2 speed rear axle or a 3 speed auxiliary transmission, aka "brownie box." That odd looking number below reverse is compound low if I remember right; it was good for maybe 5 mph, maybe less. 


In my list of things to do before i die is to sit in a fire truck. I never did it when I was young enough. And I've thought of buying one to have, he's quite right, they are well preserved and therefore not difficult to maintain, I have no idea where to put it out of the weather here. It would be an instant guest at the annual village parade (July 4th)

And probably give the local little ones a ride in it on a nice Sunday.........