HERE is a collector’s item that is bound to get your siren singing.
Michael Watson is not interested in stamps, coins or butterflies. He collects vintage fire trucks, and his oldest is an absolute beauty – a 1922 Garford truck.
The ancient workhorse has been registered for 89 years and it is still going strong.
“I work part time for the fire service,” Mr Watson said.
“So I thought, ‘Instead of having an old car, why don’t I have an old fire truck?’”
“All I had to fix was the siren.
“The gentleman who I bought it off had taken six years to restore it.”
In 1922 the New South Wales Fire Brigade imported 49 cab chassis from the United States and used them to build purpose-made Garford fire trucks. These dependable vehicles were in use until 1968, but today only eight remain on the road. If trucks could speak, we could only imagine the stories these old chariots would tell.
Mr Watson’s fire truck collection also contains a 1927 Graham Brothers’ truck, a 1948 International and a 1971 Dodge. But unlike his Garford, all are ongoing restoration projects for Mr Watson.
It sounds like a simple, boyish love of fire trucks but Mr Watson’s enthusiasm runs much deeper.
“Eventually I’d like to open a fire truck museum in Gladstone. I like the idea of people being able to see the gear that was used back in those days,” he said.
And it doesn’t stop with trucks. Mr Watson has also collected old hoses, uniforms, extinguishers and a couple of original brass fire officer’s hats.
Mr Watson is driving the Garford to this year’s Raglan Wings & Wheels Air Show.
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