1951 Crosley Fire Engine Hook & Ladder Hook & Ladder
Sales - Design/Build - Restoration
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At RK Motors Charlotte we feature the most exclusive sports cars on the planet, specialize in the most brutal muscle cars on the market and enjoy every minute of the day telling you ALL about them. That said, variety is the spice of life and it’s always great to see something like this super cool, and very different, 1951 Crosley Hook and Ladder roll through our showroom doors. Unusual, highly appealing and bestowed with several prestigious honors which include the Mayor’s Cup and the Merchant’s Award from the 2010 Monterey Peninsula, this sub-compact piece of Americana retains its original four cylinder engine, carries a fresh restoration and has the ability to haul 20 of your closest friends on a scenic joy ride. You don''t have to be over 70 to appreciate the appeal of a rare and highly authentic Crosley. And you don’t have to be under 10 to know a good time when you see it. So, instead of pulling up at your next meet and joining the rows of over hyped, brightly painted, big engine stop light brawlers, buy this unique classic and instantly become the star of the show!
One of only four goose neck fire trucks produced by Overland Amusements in Lexington, Massachusetts, this pint-sized public servant was introduced right after World War II as a super cool carnival ride. Its build combines a Crosley pickup truck with a custom built fifth wheel ‘hook and ladder’ trailer which features full bench seats and clever safety restraints that are fashioned out of fire fighters'' ladders. Recently it underwent an extensive restoration which began with a complete nut and bolt tear down and ended with a smooth coat of traditional fire engine red paint. Once that red paint was dry, and the truck’s clearcoat shell was buffed to an excellent shine, classic fire equipment was bolted up between old school gold leaf lettering and hand painted gloss black accents to perfect its authentic, vintage appearance. The result is a straight and solid custom which has to be one of the coolest amusement rides ever created; and while I’m not sure I’d risk responding to a high speed highway in this thing, it would certainly look great motoring through any car show, parade or firefighter gathering.
Hands down, the best aspects of this expertly restored Crosley are: 1) its vintage 50s styling and 2) the fact that it weaves authentic fire equipment into a fully functional show piece. At the front of the truck, a chrome propeller style grille rides between a wraparound chrome bumper, clear round headlights and chrome trimmed parking lights. Above that grille “KFD No. 1” gold leaf lettering is interwoven between a centered, red detailed Crosley emblem and a pointed chrome hood ornament. And at the sides of that grille, sculpted front fenders hang perfectly spaced portholes above triangular wheel openings. At the top of the truck, a vintage Federal Junior Beacon Ray blue light rotates above like-new glass that’s fronted by a Perko Sea-mite siren, cleared by one satin finished wiper and framed by correct chrome mirrors. At the sides of the truck “KFD” gold lettering and Kiddie Fire Department emblems decorate broad doors that are hung on traditional bear claw hinges and latched by small chrome handles. And at the back of the truck a traditional brass bell and a brass, liquid-filled Federal Fireguard Quick Aid fire extinguisher hang above a diamond plate bed that’s complete with a 1.5 inch straight bore brass nozzle.
That diamond plate bed connects to a custom trailer beneath metal foot pegs and a vintage hose reel that’s wrapped in 100 feet of 1.5 inch fire hose. Behind that hose, guests sit on fully finished wooden benches which ride between “Kiddie Fire Department” gold leaf lettering and rugged rubber mats. And across from those benches, hinged wooden ladders act as cleverly disguised, full-length safety restraints. The sides of the trailer are adorned with vintage 1.5 inch hard suction hoses, immovable pick axes, vintage bullet marker lights and gold leaf “Hook & Ladder No. 1” scripts. The back of the trailer is decorated with centered, gold leaf “KFD” letters and a chrome Badger Pony foam fire extinguisher. And a traditional diamond plate beaver tail pulls double duty as both a stylistic element and a functional step to board passengers.
Lift this Hook and Ladder’s long, rolled hood and you’ll find an original 44 cubic inch, water cooled CIBA 4-cylinder which wears a correct red-detailed Crosley logo and a correct 208800 casting number. Completely rebuilt during the truck’s highly detailed restoration this sturdy cast iron engine, which features five main bearings and Crosley’s well-known Turbulator combustion chambers, runs great and will likely putter along for years with a minimum of fussing and tuning. At the top of the block, a United oil bath air cleaner bends air into a fresh Tillotson 1-barrel carburetor. To the left of that carburetor, a stamped steel valve cover hangs over a traditional points distributor which sends fire through Lucas Silicone Speed Lead plug wires. And to the right of that carburetor, a fresh fuel line, which is complete with both a traditional bowl and a modern inline filter, snakes past a stalwart Autolite generator. Cooling comes courtesy of a small radiator which circulates water past a copper overflow tube and a two-blade pulley fan via new hoses and a side mount thermostat. Combustion is initiated by a reliable Autolite starter which kick spins a saucer-sized flywheel. And exhaust is handled by what appears to be an original cast iron manifold. Like the rest of the truck, the entire engine bay has been restored to show quality standards from its fully finished inner panels to its orange engine block, and is definitely something you’ll want to display every time you arrive on scene!
Not only is the bottom of this cool old classic aesthetically pleasing, it’s also built to survive another 50 years of harsh elements and backbreaking service. The truck’s clean, dent-free floors, which exhibit no major problem areas, are sealed in a super protective undercoating that is both glossy and durable. Below those floors, a rugged leaf spring front and rear suspension hangs traditional solid axles between fully rebuilt drum brakes and a correct manual steering rack. At the center of those floors, a Crosley T-92 manual transmission rows through all three of its gears just as well now as when it left the showroom floor. And at the back of those floors, a 10 bolt Crosley rear end rides right below a sturdy ball mount hitch for the long and light trailer. Speaking of the trailer, its exterior usefulness cleverly masks an interior simplicity that’s proven and easy to maintain. There’s a sturdy steel frame which features x-bracing down its entire center section. At the top and sides of that X-bracing, coated wood provides the foundation for steps, fenders and seats. And below that x-bracing, a third solid axles hangs from a third set of restored leaf springs. Spanning the full length of the trucks floors is a broom handle-size exhaust system which consists of new, mandrel bent aluminized pipes which are welded to a factory replacement muffler. And tying the truck, trailer and pavement together is six freshly painted 12 inch steel wheels which spin 4.80-12 Deestone tires around vintage, red-detailed Crosley hub caps.
Open this old school fire engine’s wide doors and check out its fully restored interior that, given the truck’s original purpose, is likely much nicer than ever before. The seats have been re-covered in industrial grade vinyl and seamed with bright red piping to provide a clean, vintage look which hints at both the truck’s commercial grade roots and modern day collector status. At the front of the cockpit, a fully refinished dash hangs restored Crosley gauges next to chrome accessory knobs, a correct radio delete panel and a small glove box. On the floor like-new black carpet, which has been trimmed in the same red accents as the seats, props two red booted shifters below straight vinyl kick panels. At the sides of the cockpit, simple vinyl door panels are direct and to the point with fresh chrome handles for the windows being their only functional pieces. And on the roof, a gray mouse fur headliner contrasts well against trick black and red sun visors. Keeping the driver connected to the road is a clean three-spoke, painted steering wheel which spins above a classic chrome Yankee Turnflex signal stalk. And keeping the truck’s accessory lights and siren running is a small auxiliary battery which is mounted directly behind the driver’s seat.
If you know niche collector cars, you know finding a Crosley restoration of this caliber is exceptionally difficult; and finding one this unique is almost impossible. If you know niche collector car enthusiasts, you know they’ll likely flood our phone lines and beat down the doors to the showroom just as soon as this truck posts to our website. Don’t miss your opportunity to own this one-of-a-kind show stopper!