Home » You Can Buy An Actual Fire Truck For The Price Of A Chevy Trax

You Can Buy An Actual Fire Truck For The Price Of A Chevy Trax

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If I assumed that back in childhood, you dreamt of driving a fire truck when you grew up, would I be right? It’s not a universal dream, but it’s common enough to jog memories in a sizeable slice of the population. After all, what’s not to love in concept about a big (or sometimes not-so-big), red truck that can be used to save people? Well, if a little piece of you still feels that way, I have good news — used fire trucks are out there, and they’re not completely trashed.

A used fire truck is also far cheaper than you’d expect. It seems possible to buy a reasonably nice one for the price of one of America’s least expensive new cars, and while that’s still serious coin to drop on a toy, it’s certainly not upper-echelon stuff.

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Granted, owning a fire truck isn’t for everyone, and you probably aren’t looking at a full-size rig for sensible coin. However, something with a lighter gross vehicle weight rating would just make things easier, and so long as it shoots water, it should be close enough, right?

What Are We Looking At?

isuzu fire truck

We’re talking about one of the biggest childhood dreams in the record books. Short of being an astronaut or driving a monster truck, driving a fire truck is right up there on the list of things we wanted to do when we grew up, and while few of us ended up being actual firefighting heroes, it turns out that living out the fire truck-driving part of the fantasy is doable as a regular person.

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These are trucks with specialized equipment, capable of dousing a blaze using either onboard water or water from a hydrant. While modern trucks typically run their pumps using power take-offs, some smaller, older trucks have other methods. Either way, the machines we’re looking at today are big, cool, and can be surprisingly useful in a world bearing the cross of climate change. Oh, and you won’t have to break the bank to pick one up.

How Expensive Are We Talking?

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When I wrote that you can buy a fire truck for the price of a Chevy Trax, I really meant it. A 2024 Chevrolet Trax LS starts at $21,495 including freight, but you won’t have to pay that much for a truck you can shoot water from. If you’re just looking for a pumper truck, this 1990 Ford F-Super Duty just hammered on Bring A Trailer for $18,000, and despite having seen service in Intercourse, Penn., it looks properly mint. We’re talking about 11,000 miles on the clock, a five-speed manual transmission, an indestructible 7.3-liter IDI diesel engine, and proper pumping equipment. It’s equipped with a pump run off of a power take-off, it has a generator it has storage for hoses, it has a siren, it’s all done up in proper livery, it’s got everything save for a water tank.

isuzu fire truck

However, if you do want a water tank, options are out there in this price range, including some nifty ones from overseas. Check out this four-wheel-drive 1990 Isuzu Elf fire truck that sold back in March on Cars & Bids. It’s JDM as hell, comes with a water tank, shows 19,600 kilometers on the clock, and sold for a mere $17,500. Imagine locking this thing into four-wheel-drive, shifting into first, and crawling over mildly rough terrain to get to where the smoke is.

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Img 6959 58931 Scaled Copy kaiser-jeep fire truck

Are either of these trucks too new for you? No worries. Check out this 1968 Kaiser-Jeep M175 fire truck that sold on Bring A Trailer for $13,000 back in April. Sure, it has some cosmetic imperfections, but it’s 56 years old, and more importantly, it’s functional. This one’s a bit weird because it uses a separate 11-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine to power the pump, but that motor’s been recently serviced and should be ready to help drain the 300-gallon water tank.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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Well, using the sirens on the street is a pretty surefire way of getting arrested, it’s probably a good idea to cover up any emergency phone numbers, and it takes some proper strength to maintain control of a fire hose, but otherwise, it’s worth keeping in mind that these are older trucks with some serious aftermarket equipment. In addition to the usual maintenance items that crop up with age, the specialized equipment may require specialized attention to keep in good order.

Should You Buy A Cheap Fire Truck?

fire truck kaiser-jeep

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If you have the space, the money, and have always wanted to drive a fire truck, sure, why not? Alternatively, if you own a larger piece of property in an area where wildfires are known to happen, a truck with a pump and either a built-in tank or a tank on a trailer could save your crops, animals, or what have you.

Admittedly, these machines certainly aren’t for everyone. They require significant space and time, aren’t exactly performance machines on tarmac, and require a certain degree of extroversion to drive in public. However, if none of those are turn-offs to you, and you still want to grow up to drive a fire truck, your dreams might be more achievable than you think.

(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer, Cars & Bids)

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Jim Stageman
Jim Stageman
7 days ago

Classic sketch from the Kids In the Hall: https://youtu.be/yiESfUGC_Pw?si=dCLEDiyJFSTdiqwY

Myk El
Myk El
14 days ago

This is the Fire Truck I drove as a kid.

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
15 days ago

Truth be told, I wanted to be a garbageman when I grew up. Same fun of riding on the back of the truck as a fireman, but none of the stress of having to save people!

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
14 days ago

There are days when I would trade the stress of my job for riding on a garbage truck. Though I think I have a natural tendency to want to be in charge so I would try to become chief garbageman.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
15 days ago

…it takes some proper strength to maintain control of a fire hose…

100% legit. When I was a young teen, I was helping to fill a water-tank truck (2000-3000 gal capacity?). The adult who I was helping was a real fireman and we were filling the truck from a hydrant, me on top of the tank holding the hose steady. He slowly turned up the pressure until the hose started lifting me off the tank. He said he hadn’t even opened the valve halfway.

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
15 days ago

I frequent a web site that handles municipal auctions. Fire trucks are a mainstay on there. It’s actually amazing how cheap they go for. I’m talking about the big ones, on the bus chassis or what not. Considering a municipality probably pays hundreds of thousands of dollars for them, they’re damn near giving them away. I’ve wondered more than once if it would make sense to repurpose one as a work truck, say for serious towing or payload. They always have a huge diesel engine, with very low miles, have been garaged and meticulously maintained. I feel like there is opportunity there.

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
15 days ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

One, new ones now go for around a million dollars. Two, yes they can be repurposed. I’ve seen them as both flatbeds and as haulers for race and/or classic cars.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
14 days ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

My dad bought an old F700 chassis/cab that had been a firetruck. It still had the switch panel and the PTO. It had a lot of redundancy in the electrical system (dual alternators, dual isolated batteries) and the brakes. The truck was old but low mileage and very well maintained.

Zelda Bumperthumper
Zelda Bumperthumper
15 days ago

That Intercourse truck definitely pumped on a few hotspots in Blue Ball, Paradise and Bird-in-Hand over the years. If things got really heated, it may even have made a call to Mount Joy.

Kevin B
Kevin B
15 days ago

When you are a resident of that area, you just roll your eyes when these lame jokes are told.

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
15 days ago
Reply to  Kevin B

Lame, yes. Childish, yes. Still funny? Damn right!

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
14 days ago

Would it be weird if I just put decals on my car that said Intercourse?

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
15 days ago

I truly hope that the feds and all the state governments will sort out the situations surrounding importation and registration of vehicles that weren’t originally sold here. There’s so much neat stuff available that’s 25+ years old.

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
15 days ago

As nice as that Intercourse truck looks, I’m told it’s squirted on half the town.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
15 days ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

“Hmmm…. That doesn’t smell like fire Retardent” (☉̃ₒ☉)

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
15 days ago

My memories of having a 1989 F350 with the non-turbo IDI-

1. It’s loud as fuck.
2. It accelerates at the same leisurely pace no matter how much weight you put in it.
3. The engine is so goddamn massive that the cab shakes like a wet dog when you turn it off.
4. It will run until the heat death of the universe.

Tbird
Tbird
15 days ago

Saw a bumper sticker once “She prefers my slow Powerstroke to your fast Cummins.”

Peter Strong
Peter Strong
15 days ago
Reply to  Tbird

Okay–how did I get to be *cough* middle aged and never heard this GENIUS joke before! AWESOME!

AssMatt
AssMatt
15 days ago

If you live near Seattle and know how to work on Kenworths, my dad would be happy to let you play with his fire truck. Seriously.

Data
Data
15 days ago

So there is all this talk about pumping and that one truck has Intercourse written across the front. This is thirsty Autopian.

Bryan
Bryan
15 days ago

Sorry that Ford is from Intercourse, and it used to service the Leacock Township? Someone’s taking the piss …

Tbird
Tbird
15 days ago
Reply to  Bryan

Beat me to it. Intercourse PA is an honest to god real place out in Amish country out east.

Wolfpack57
Wolfpack57
15 days ago
Reply to  Tbird

Didn’t intercourse used to mean “exchange of ideas”. They basically named their town Conversation and the meaning changed on them.

Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones
14 days ago
Reply to  Wolfpack57

Yes. Yes, it did, some time ago.
But, as Wm. S. Burroughs wrote,

“Language is a virus from outer space”.

It melds. It forks. It mutates, faster than
our own sexual rolls of the copulatory dice.

The question is, do we possess language,
or does it own us? Symbiotic?

Time for a cawfee tawk. . .

Sklooner
Sklooner
15 days ago
Reply to  Bryan

I’m gonna hold for a truck from Climax SK

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
15 days ago
Reply to  Sklooner

You can drive the truck from Intercourse through Climax MI on the way to Climax SK.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
15 days ago

Some great water pumping steel, however the tankless Ford is not a fire truck. It is anaccesory emergency vehicle. But give me the rest. You want proof? Remember Emergency? The firefighters road on a fire truck the EMTs road in one of these, and ambulances were run by ambulance drivers.

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