Every year, October 28 is celebrated as National First Responders Day, so in the spirit of the occasion, we put together a collection of some of the coolest, most interesting police cars, fire engines, wreckers, and ambulances we’ve come across during our visits to cars shows across the country.

Take a look at these interesting and historically significant rides—and every October 28, make sure to remember the intrepid men and women behind the wheel that keep us safe.


As the oldest fire apparatus in our gallery here, this 1856 Button & Co. hand pumper is designed to be hitched to a team of horses. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
Vintage American LaFrance Fire Truck at Hot August Nights 2013
American LaFrance was one of the preeminent fire engine and ladder truck manufacturers through the 1980s, until a series of ownership changes hastened its demise in 2014. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
With a GM LT1 V8 under its hood, this C4 Corvette really puts the “First” in First Responder. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
1939 ford fire hohman fire department ladder truck
Though not the actual truck used in the movie, this particular 1939 Ford American LaFrance fire truck is wearing “Hohman Volunteer Fire Dept.” livery as an homage to the fire truck seen in the holiday classic “A Christmas Story” during the famous flagpole scene. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
1946 chevy tow truck at indoor car show
This 1946 Chevy 1-1/2 ton tow truck is a faithful recreation of an original model, featuring a custom fabricated wrecker boom and authentic paint scheme. Under the hood resides a trusty Chevy 216ci six. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
1920 Ford Model T fire truck displayed at an indoor car show
While the Ford Model T already has a versatile resume, dozens of aftermarket companies converted them into fire trucks too, like this 1920 Model TT Prospect that originally served with the Pandora, Ohio Fire Department. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Will Schertz)
Old Vintage Prewar Fire Truck
Speaking of Prospect, this 1930 Ford AA Fire Truck is another conversion by the Prospect Fire Company of Prospect, Ohio—unfortunately the business did not survive long after the Great Depression. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
vintage chevy police bus paddy wagon
We’re not sure if this vintage Chevy bus served as a prisoner transport or a hardcore safari rig—it’s awesome, either way. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Will Schertz)
This 1956 Ford F-250 hose truck is one of many vehicles preserved by the Reno Fire Antique and Classic Apparatus, Inc. to exhibit to future generations. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
vintage 1967 dodge power wagon fire truck
Thanks to its ruggedness and versatility, the long-running Dodge Power Wagon is another example of a commercially available truck that proved popular for fire department duty. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
1954 Packard Ambulance at Summit Racing in Akron
In the early 1950s, Packard teamed up with the Henney ambulance, limo, and hearse company to produce the “Junior” line of ambulances. Made between 1953 and 1954, only about 500 of these vehicles were ever built. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
This side view of a 1919 Ford Model T fire truck shows you how spartan some of these early rigs were, with little more than a ladder, some hose, and a water tank. (Image/Summit Racing)
Vintage tow truck wrecker
The Autocar Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was once a major heavy equipment manufacturer. The business was eventually absorbed into Volvo Trucks in the 1980s, but has recently restarted making heavy duty vehicles under the name Autocar. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Kirk Heinbuch)
The Federal Signal Company is perhaps better known not as a fire truck manufacturer, but the maker of the iconic sirens that were fitted to various other fire truck and ambulance marques. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
Though it’s wearing tribute car livery here, Ford Galaxies of seemingly every generation were popular choices for many police motor pools—and movie and TV studios too, appearing in American Graffiti, The Andy Griffith Show, and Police Squad! (Image/OnAllCylinders)
This 1972 Ford Galaxie is wearing a Barberton Police badge—an Akron, Ohio suburb not too far from OnAllCylinders world headquarters. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
vintage boyer fire truck, front
Starting in the late 19th century, the Boyer Company was a leader in chemical firefighting technologies and eventually branched into heavy fire equipment production as well. The company soldiered on into 1980s before closing its doors. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
1929 mack tow truck displayed at an indoor car show
Though Mack is now a division inside Volvo Trucks, it is still making heavy equipment—and has been since 1905. This particular wrecker is a vintage 1928 Mack AC-4, note the outrigger stabilizers and recovery boom. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Will Schertz)
Vintage Reno Fire Truck at Hot August Nights 2013
Ever wonder why early fire trucks often don’t have roofs? Typically seen on ladder trucks like this one, the open cab design allowed firefighters to easily spot overhead hazards and help direct the ladder teams. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
Police Humvee
After their adoption in the Armed Services, many police departments added Humvees to their motor pools as well—particularly in the rural areas, where the Hummer’s off-road capability was an invaluable asset on uneven terrain. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
dodge wc ambulance
While we’re talking about military vehicles, the venerable Dodge WC series spawned an ambulance variant during World War II, the WC-54. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
Antique fire truck at classic car show
Knox is regarded as one of the first “modern” fire engine manufacturers, and while we’re not sure of the build date on this exact one, the bedside reads “1st Motorized Engine Co., 1911” out of Lexington, Kentucky. Check out that impressive PTO assembly that drives the water pump too. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Kirk Heinbuch)
1937 police car
This 1937 Plymouth police car is wearing colors for the POAF, a charity for Texas peace officers who suffer a critical life-altering line of duty injury. (Image/Championship Auto Shows)
1972 chevy suburban ambulance conversion
Though it’s had its cab lights and decals removed, the spotlights and raised roof here is a clear indication that this 1972 Chevy Suburban began life as an ambulance—we bet it makes a nice long-haul hotrod too. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
Vintage Semi Truck Recovery Tow Rig
What does it take to tow a big truck? An even bigger truck. This imposing eight-wheel Peterbilt wrecker has a massive telescoping boom in the back to help it recover stuck big rigs. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Kirk Heinbuch)
first police Car ever, Akron, Ohio
Finally, given the Summit Racing Retail Store’s proximity to the Rubber City, we’ll leave you with this fun fact: The first powered police car ever was an electric wagon that patrolled the streets of Akron, Ohio way back in 1899. It’s said that the wagon’s first assignment was to pick up a drunk guy—and we’re not making that up, either. (Image/Public Domain)
Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.