RIDE OF THE WEEK!! A 1949 Dodge Fire Truck


Ah, hidden Malibu gems. They’re everywhere, and in today’s Ride of the Week, I came upon a nearly brand new classic old 1949 Dodge Fire Truck owned by Peter Ireland.

Yea, you heard that right, kids.

Up on north Pacific Coast Highway is the Nature Trust of the Santa Monica Mountains and the old Malibu Riding and Tennis Club.

Virtually abandoned now, Ireland is the president of the trust. He spends his days caring for the grounds and planning cool events and keeping the place busy. It’s a great gig because the huge piece of land is just awesome.

As I drove up in the lush green playground, in the distance I spotted this flash of something red. Sure enough, it was Ireland’s ‘49 Fire Truck. The red beauty came from the Lake Parsippany Fire Department in New Jersey with 35,000 original miles – and that makes sense, as most fire trucks don’t put a lot of miles on their tires.

It was a Dodge B series, five windows “Pilot House” cab, flathead six-cylinder engine and a single throat down draft carburetor, Standard Boyer Fire Apparatus with a three-speed on the floor stick shift.

“I found her 10 years ago on Ebay,” revs Ireland. “She was begging to snowbird it to Malibu to get away from those cold ‘nor-easter’ winters.”

Don’t we all.

“Having been through every major fire in Malibu since 1981, I know the value of having a fire truck, pumping apparatus, fire hose and water supply at the ready when you need it,” Ireland said. “Plus, it was cheaper than buying a swimming pool pump that you can’t drive and doesn’t have a siren.”

What an awesome idea. You live in a town where Fires can get nasty, so you buy a fire truck and poke those puppies out with your own water rocket. Right now, I can hear little circuits going off in my head like squirrels having a nut powwow.

Oh, but there’s more, baby.

“The ‘Pilot House’ cab sets you up nice and high so you can see the whole world in front of you,” smiles Ireland in a gleeful kid-like grin. “But the sweetest part is the slow winding centrifugal siren made by the old Sterling Siren Fire Alarm Co. To crank her up, you got to stand on a big spring-loaded floor pedal, being careful not to mix it up with the brake or clutch pedal. After about a minute she’s singing better than Pavarotti.”

Give me images of Ireland standing on the back of the truck during a smoke-out, hose in one hand like Ahnuld and singing Pav’s notes of love.

So what does Ireland use it for when there are no fires?

“Peace of mind, mostly,” he said. “It’s my form of Zen.”

Yea, I can relate – although, my Zen is a 570 McLaren on Piuma. Just saying.

Then Ireland starts in with a quick diddy.

“Some years back, there was a beach related helicopter air-evacuation on PCH right in front of the ranch,” he said. “The County Fire Department had to close down Pacific Coast Highway to land the chopper. I could see everything from our parking lot without being in the way of any rescue work. After all the emergency response work was complete and the various response teams were starting to disperse, I fired up the old Dodge fire truck, stepped on the siren pedal and coasted into our parking lot above and overlooking PCH. At least the old fire truck brought smiles to the faces of those who were called to serve on that day.”

Yea, that’s nothin’ but awesome, Ireland. Sounds like that brand new classic spends time bringing joy in between times of serious flame eruptions. Just one look at her and the grin gets stuck in the upright position.

“I feel very lucky to be in Malibu,” Ireland said.

There are few vehicles that have the power that a fire engine does. Not Horsepower, but the power to elicit joy. I don’t care how old you are, a Fire Truck makes you feel like a kid and few of us actually find a way to make that permanent. But Ireland has, and I thank him for sharing it with me. Just need to figure out a way to make my garage a bit bigger now as I have eyes on buying a Ladder Truck. Anyone want to drive the rear for me? Shout out.

And finally, Ireland’s favorite movie car? The 1952 Jag XK 120 roadster his father drove in the original 1955 version of “The Fast and the Furious,” opposite Dorothy Malone (yes, there was an original).

“This was Roger Corman’s first AIP production,” Ireland said. “My father also co-directed it. This beautiful XK 120 Jag got more camera time than any other car in film that I can remember. Since part of it was filmed during the actual ‘Pebble Beach Road Races,’ there are some absolutely classic shots of vintage race cars during the actual road race. The film open at what may be the only existent film footage of the original “Saddle Peak Lodge.” My father tapped jazz great ‘Chet Baker Quartet’ to do the music.”


Want to be featured as my next Ride of the Week? Shoot me an email to askfireball@fireballtim.com.

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