Most Willys fire trucks in North America were open-body designs based on the Willys pickup or built on a cab and chassis from Willys. Fire departments in Europe have always tended to prefer fully-enclosed fire apparatus, so it's not surprising they often made use of the Willys Jeep Station Wagon, both as a utility vehicle and a basis for modification into a pumper.
Some Willys trucks released by the factory as "stripped chassis" versions (see Willys-Overland Production Figures) also made their way overseas for conversion into fire trucks. In service from 1959 to 1981 in Eglisau, north of Zurich, this truck is a nice example of elegant Swiss coachwork. It carried up to 7 firefighters of Feuerwehr Eglisau.
Apparently from the same Swiss coach builder, this 1961 Willys was photographed in Amsterdam in 2014 by Sander Toonen on Flickr. The truck had been modified with an 8-cylinder engine running on LPG, and was being used to promote a wine and food business.
I haven't been able to identify the coat of arms (10K JPEG) on the door of the truck.
Neuenhof, northwest of Zurich has two "oldtimers" -- a 1960 Willys makes a great partner for the department's 1957 Volkswagen panel delivery microbus. The Willys also appears to have originally been a panel delivery model, and according to Feuerwehr Neuenhof the body modifications were done by Hüppi in Switzerland.
This 6-226 4WD cab and chassis has Willys serial number 55168 11908, indicating a 1955 model. According to the Oldtimer Club of Feuerwehr Adliswil who restored this truck, it was originally delivered from the U.S. with bodywork only back to the firewall. The new high-clearance rear body is reminiscent of The Jeep "Economy Delivery".
This photo was taken on the way to a fire apparatus show in Kitzbühel, Switzerland in May, 2008.
The beautiful and functional body, including tall cab doors and roll-up compartment doors, was built in Switzerland. The truck spent its entire service life with Feuerwehr Adliswil in a suburb of Zurich.
This picture from the 2008 Jeeptreffen (Jeep show) in Rothrist is courtesy of Pro-Automobil.ch.
Another photo from the 2008 Jeeptreffen in Rothrist, courtesy of Pro-Automobil.ch shows a Willys wagon relatively unmodified except for the front bumper, pulling a pump trailer. We don't know who owns this one; anybody recognize the crest with a rooster above crossed fire axes?
See also a Willys wagon in Nyon, Switzerland, made famous worldwide by its appearance as The Fire Truck in the Tin Tin Book.
Some of the trucks above were probably built by Fratelli Ambrosoli ("Ambrosoli Brothers") in Zürich, Switzerland. Fratelli Ambrosoli was a family mechanical workshop business established in Locarno, which expanded into many other fields including importing Willys Jeeps, and moved its headquarters to Zurich in 1946. (Wikipedia)
Here's the translation of the German text in this brochure for the company's Jeep fire apparatus circa late 1950s/early 1960s:
Always ready to use
always fast and reliable
Willys Jeep Fire Engines
Perhaps you are also thinking of buying a new vehicle for your fire department in the foreseeable future -- to make it more modern, faster and more effective. Then a Willys Jeep might be an option for you too!
If there is a vehicle that has really been put to the test countless times to the point of being torn and has always shone where it really matters, it is the Willys Jeep.
And the fire brigade is all about the absolute -- here the Jeep is in its very own element: "The right vehicle in the right place!"
See for yourself. This brochure aims to show you that with the Willys Jeep the problem of the always reliable, manoeuvrable and all-terrain on-call vehicle can always be solved ideally -- even where special conditions prevail.
Always ready for you
Drive at the stern
Pump drive at the front
Rear drive gear
Fire brigade ropes
Frost protection windows
Basic specs are noted for the two vehicles shown in photos, an open body FC-150 Forward Control and a 4x475 Station Wagon, and there is a list of municipalities under the heading: "All of these communities gave the Willys Jeep priority as fire fighting vehicles."
"Ask for it!"
Swiss fire brigades (previous page)
One photo is a rear view of the big 6-226 built on a cab and chassis from Willys, and also seen above on page one. Two photos show an enclosed body FC-170, similar to some Jeep FC Fire Engines Around the World.
Basic specs are given and the notation "54% Swiss work" indicates the value of the domestic contribution to the imported vehicle.
The list of models on the last page mentions the CJ-5 and CJ-6, which are not illustrated in the brochure.
The rest of the text reads:
Willys Jeep proven a million times for fire departments.
We offer you a wealth of experience in building functional, individual fire-fighting vehicles. We have various chassis that are extremely suitable for the high demands of the fire service. All are tried and tested, robust, agile and indestructible. The 4-wheel drive built into each model ensures optimum off-road mobility -- indispensable for places with steep, poor roads or for driving on snow and ice, for short cuts over meadows and fields.
Prices: from CHF 22,500 (Swiss francs) -- depending on the body, equipment and design.
All models are suitable for attaching motor sprayers etc.
Special superstructures and equipment of your choice.
See more about Fratelli Ambrosoli in Swiss Army Jeeps on CJ3B.info.
This pumper built by Sørholtes Verksted in Stange, Norway, displays craftsmanship on the same level as the Swiss apparatus, although in a more utilitarian or military design style. The 1957 4-wheel drive Willys 6-226 was in service in Modum, Norway until 1985 when it was sold. It was bought back again in 2005 and fully restored.
Although seen here pulling a gasoline-powered pump, the truck has a front-mounted Champion 1500 liter/min. pump, and a 600-liter water tank.
Beautiful photos by Jan Scheele -- see also the left side view (280K JPEG) with a J-20 Gladiator in the background.
At the same display, Jan photographed this restored pumper based on a 1956 Willys 6-226 truck. It was also built by Sørholtes Verksted, with a Champion pump and 400-liter tank, and served Førde, Norway until 1970. "Brannvesen" or "brannvern" are Norwegian for "fire department."
See also a right side view (160K JPEG).
Hans from the Netherlands found an unrestored panel delivery in storage on a visit to Norway. The front grille design indicates a 1950-53 model, and it has controls above the grille for a front-mounted pump.
See also the cab interior, a rear view, and the name "Øymark-Rødenes Brannvesen" painted on the side panel (80K JPEGs). Øymark and Rødenes are two lakes southwest of Oslo.
Jan Scheele also sent an older photo he took in Kristiansund in the 1970's, of a similar but more complete panel delivery with front-mounted pump (90K JPEG) which has since been restored.
This enclosed light pumper was built in the 1950s by Tollarps in Sweden, and in 2001 was being restored by the Royal Institute of Technology Motor Club. The photos and information come from Lars Wallentin, a member of the club.
"As you can see, the chassis is a Willys-Overland truck, 4-wheel drive. The engine is a side valve 6-cylinder, 115 horsepower." (See a closer photo with the hood raised, 50K JPEG.)
"Below the right headlight is an air horn -- without being an expert, the horn does look a bit sixties, so it may have been added later. The lights above the windshield are white lights just for illumination. On the roof there apparently was some kind of blinking warning lights -- I can see the mounting holes and wires. Nowadays we use blue warning lights in Sweden, but we changed from red to blue in the sixties."
Lars comments, "I remember this kind of fire vehicle from the 1950s, so I think the body is quite an ordinary kind of Swedish fire Jeep. I think they called them 'hose cars'. The body was made by a company in Sweden called Tollarps. In the middle of the back seat there is a 300-liter water container, so there is only room for two persons in the back seat, one at each side."
"Among other things, the rear compartment carried 528 meters of hose."
"The truck is registered 1955. It was used at a fire station 100 km south of Stockholm, and in the 1970's it was moved to an island in the Stockholm archipelago, where there is some kind of sea research station. The last 20 years it has just been standing collecting dust. Now the truck is owned by the Royal Institute of Technology Motor Club, and we are trying to make it roadworthy for an historical car rally at the beginning of June 2001."
Thanks to Lars Wallentin and all the contributors. -- Derek Redmond
See also more Jeeps in Sweden on CJ3B.info.
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