Hershey | Lot 439

1936 American LaFrance 'Senior' 400 Series Squad Truck

The William B. Ruger Jr. Collection

$82,500 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

11 October 2019

Registered No.
  • Offered from the William B. Ruger Jr. Collection
  • The ultimate Art Deco American LaFrance with 240 hp overhead-cam V-12
  • Well-maintained restoration by Andy Swift and Chris Charlton
  • Enjoyed by Mr. Ruger for years at his home in Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Documented with partial restoration invoices; accompanied by service manuals
  • Incredible power and presence—the ultimate party wagon

Many men dream, but few have the wherewithal to make reality of their dreams. William B. Ruger Jr. did, and when it came to his collection of automobiles and fire trucks, anything was possible—making the job of restoring his vehicles always an adventure.

Bearing witness is this particular piece of fire equipment, a 1936 American LaFrance 400 Series, the Art Deco ‘Senior’ model in the company’s line, boasting its largest overhead-cam V-12 with roller-bearing rocker arms and chain drive. It had the prestige, power, and sheer presence that Mr. Ruger sought in a fire truck, but there were a few minor problems. Rarity was one; fewer than 150 of such 400 Series trucks were built, and just a handful remain extant. The second consideration was that Mr. Ruger preferred open squad trucks, with rows of seating in the rear, both for their ability to hold friends and for their relative lightness—ensuring maximum performance.

Mr. Ruger found his solution in an ex–Brookline, Massachusetts, 400 Series, owned by his friend and trusted fire truck restorer, Andy Swift of Firefly Restorations in Hope, Maine. Mr. Swift and Chris Charlton of Classic Car Services in Oxford, Maine, restored the truck with what Mr. Swift describes as “fantasy bodywork”—the squad truck that American LaFrance did not build in-period, but should have, incorporating as much of the original bodywork as possible. No detail was left unturned nor expense spared, down to gold-leaf graphics by Peter Acorn, and the result is splendid in its fit, finish, and presentation. It lived for some years at the Ruger home at Bar Harbor, Maine, where Mr. Ruger enjoyed using it to give his guests rides up Cadillac Mountain.

One could show this mighty truck—but that would be joyless compared to the experience of taking the entire party out on the town…or up the mountain.

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