Statewide Blog

11,794 classic vehicles — and one lonely fire truck

This boy will grow up never owning a real fire truck.

The annual Back to the 50's car show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds set a record for entries this year. Nearly 12,000 vehicle owners showed off their rides during the three-day event that ended Sunday.

Part of the fun at the show is guessing the prices on cars that are for sale. I was on the way out with my son Sunday when a big old fire truck -- and a "For Sale" sign in the window -- caught my eye.

I could hardly believe it. Asking only $2,900 for this beauty, a 1963 Chevrolet with only 9,000 miles. How could that be? It seemed to be in great shape. The sign stated, "Everything works!"

My son and I walked around the truck. We opened sliding storage doors and peered in. I touched the hoses coiled up inside. I ran my fingers across the gauges, dials and knobs.

Then the daydreaming began. What if I bought a fire truck? How cool would I be driving this thing in the Northeast parade this year? How awesome of a dad would I be?

Then reality creeped in. Where would I park it? How many miles per gallon could this thing possibly get? More importantly, what would my wife say? My son asked, "Are you going to call mom and tell her we're buying a fire truck?"

The impulse didn't last long. But I couldn't resist wondering, "What if?"

So I finally called the seller Monday ... and was secretly relieved when the man who answered said, "I sold that truck yesterday."

The seller was Mick Brooks, an auctioneer and car dealer in Austin, Minn. It turns out he owned the truck for a week. He explained that the truck was once the protector of Mapleview, just outside Austin. He bought it from a neighbor, mainly for the 348 big-block engine. After pulling out the motor and subbing in a 350 engine, Brooks decided to show the truck and try to sell it.

"Everything was working. The siren. The lights. The pump," Brooks said. "I thought about pulling out the tank and putting seats back there, make it a parade vehicle. But I have too many projects, so I just decided to try to get my money back."

Brooks said a guy who lives about 20 miles from the fairgrounds bought the truck for $2,500 and drove it home.

That's a guy who knows how to pull the trigger. A guy who owns a real life fire truck.

UPDATE: Jody McDaniels of St. Paul Park is the proud buyer. His wife grew up in Austin with Brooks' son. So he knows Mick and his son -- and bargained them down after the truck went unsold into Sunday afternoon.

"He called on Sunday and says, 'Do you want this thing or what? Come and get it,' " McDaniels said.

So McDaniels, who runs a garbage-hauling firm, cut the deal and drove the truck to St. Paul Park at a top speed of 45 mph. The truck's now sitting in his driveway, waiting a longer-term home.

"My oldest son is 22 and he's like, 'What now?' But my middle guy is 19 and my daughter is 15 and they think it's cool," McDaniels said.

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