This is likely one of the first motorized fire engines in the Los Angeles Fire Department's fleet.
Jay Leno has a wide and eclectic enthusiasm for anything with an engine. After checking out a Ferrari Enzo last week, Leno sticks with the red color scheme this time but examines a much different vehicle – a 1911 Christie Fire Engine.
This big machine has quite a history. The Los Angeles Fire Department originally bought it, and given the age, the vehicle would have been among the first motorized fire engines acquired by the city, according to Leno. Before then, departments generally used horses to pull their pumps, and around the 1910s many of them upgraded to combustion-powered haulers. For example, while the LAFD got this Christie in 1911, the boiler came from 1899.
The Christie uses a 20-liter T-head four-cylinder engine. Leno happens to have busted piston from the mill, and it appears to be around the size of a coffee can. For ease of use, this one also has an electric starter, so Leno doesn’t have to crank this beastly powerplant to life.
The LAFD sold the Christie as an antique to a fire department in New Jersey in the 1970s. A crew of volunteers there took the machine apart and put it back together over the course of several years. The fire engine then went on display and appeared in parades.
Eventually the Christie broke down, and after the original crew maintaining it passed away, the department started looking for a new home for the vintage engine. That’s when Leno entered the story. After helping the LAFD restore its 1914 Christie, the comedian was looking for one of his own and approached the New Jersey owners about buying this example.
Now that Leno knows this machine also has a Los Angeles fire fighting history, he intends to eventually donate the Christie to the LAFD museum. Check out the clip above to see what this gigantic fire engine looks like on the road.
Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube