A classic Ford fire engine whose history includes crashing into two Auckland shops is in need of a chrome-plating job on its bonnet.

The 1940 truck with a 3.9 litre V-8 Mercury motor has shifted from the Museum of Transport and Technology (Motat) into the care of another historical group.

The Auckland Fire Brigades Museum and Historical Society is storing the treasured old truck at the Takapuna Fire Station temporarily. The society will soon receive another old Auckland fire engine - one which had ended up with the Air Force Museum in Christchurch.

The replacement bonnet of the otherwise restored 1940 Ford fire engine needs to be chrome-plated.
The replacement bonnet of the otherwise restored 1940 Ford fire engine needs to be chrome-plated.

The society plans to create a public display of its fire engines, uniforms and other firefighting artefacts.


The Ford spent most of its frontline working life at the old Mt Eden station in Valley Rd.

In February 1950 it was involved in a non-injury collision with two cars and a power pole. It crossed the footpath and ended up crashed into the front of a barber shop in Mt Eden Rd, south of Balmoral Rd. The fire engine required major repairs.

This came just two months after two firefighters were killed and four injured when a different fire Auckland engine, at night, hit a telegraph pole, bounced in the gutter and capsized as it turned from Franklin Rd into Victoria St West, near Victoria Park. Travelling at about 50km/h, the vehicle's clutch failed as the driver tried to change down from top gear to third and it coasted around the corner in neutral.

The Ford was involved in a later non-injury crash. It careered into a shop - one source believes it was a florist shop, another says it may have been a bike shop - at the corner of Dominion and Balmoral Rds.

Society member John Walker said the Ford was at Mt Eden from 1940 to 1963, after which it was used by volunteer firefighters at Onehunga, as a back-up for other fire engines elsewhere, and as a hearse, based at Mt Roskill, for brigade funerals.

During the 1973 chemical emergency in Parnell, in which thousands of people were evacuated and more than 600 were treated in hospital, the Ford served as a "troop transport".

"I arrived in Parnell with 14 firemen on it," Walker recalled.

The Ford was given to Motat in 1976 when the Auckland Metropolitan Fire Brigade was changed into the New Zealand Fire Service.


Society secretary Colin Prince said the Ford's chrome bonnet had become thin from constant polishing and was warped and damaged. A new one was imported from the US and although it was prepared for chrome-plating, the job wasn't completed.

The machine was delivered to Takapuna last Saturday and now the society is appealing for help in raising the money needed - about $6000 - to complete the preparation and chrome-plating.

• Donations can be made through the society's crowd-funding page

• The society invites donations of fire brigade photographs and other historical material. Contact: membership@afbhs.co.nz