The American LaFrance Fire Engine Company is one of the oldest fire apparatus manufacturers in America. With roots that go back to approximately 1832, the companies that went on to become American LaFrance built hand-drawn, horse-drawn, and steam-powered fire engines. Founded in 1873 by Truckson LaFrance and his partners as the LaFrance Manufacturing Company selling hand powered equipment. The International Fire Engine Company, corporate predecessor of American LaFrance, built some steam power fire engines between 1903-1907. Apparatus built by International included horse drawn steamers, hose wagons, and hook & ladders to chemical engines, water towers and combinations. The American LaFrance Fire Engine Company was formed in 1903. Its corporate offices and manufacturing plant were in Elmira, New York. It also operated a Canadian plant in Toronto, Ontario, where it sold apparatus under the name Lafrance-Foamite, until 1971. ALF delivered its first motorized fire engine in 1907. Over the years, American LaFrance built thousands of fire trucks including chemical engines, combination pumpers, aerial ladder trucks, Aero Chief snorkel trucks, and airport crash trucks. The classical style of the American LaFrance apparatus is easily recognized. Some of the company's innovations led to changes in the industry, most notably the cab forward style cab. The company has recently undergone a major rebirth and is once again producing custom fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.
The rugged reliability and poweful, heavy duty chassis and engines makes this platform the perfect base for Brass Era Speedster conversions many of which have been built. Its rumored that Fire Chief cars were built by the factory back in the day.
This very nice example sports a massive 6 Cylinder motor, Dual Chain Drive, and a very nicely done body built with period body parts. On its original wheelbase, it sports seating for 4. Everything is original to the chassis from the front seat forward. The Hood, dash and foot well indicate a build date prior to 1915, although the car is titled as a 1916.. Featuring great hard to find period Brass lighting and copper fuel tank, the car has been converted to larger rear sprockets for higher speeds. The car runs and drives beautifully, but was taken out of winter storage for these photos and given the soft ground we were reluctant to take it any further due to its weight. Once the weather further clears we will get it out and clean it up a bit for additional photos.
This powerful and attractive beast is one of the neatest we have seen, the period parts used in the build setting it apart from most LaFrance Speedsters.