Many times in this collector car industry we have the chance to learn about a vehicle's past ownership, which in some instances can lead to a bit of a history lesson. In the case of this very special unit, it came to teach us quite a bit about what began in a small town called Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. It is located just outside of Reading, PA and was largely built by the success story of Ferdinand Thun and his business partner, Henry Janssen. Both men were direct German descendants in the .....
engineering field, particularly the textile braiding machine industry. They began their career together in 1896 as the Textile Machine Works, which blossomed into production of their own woven fabric in 1900 as the Narrows Fabric Co, and eventually producing the finest of women's stockings with a company called Berkshire Knitting Mills by 1906. In fact, they teamed up to research with DuPont to test Nylon fabric in their braiding machines, and ultimately found it to be the most durable material for stockings. Hence, why most refer to them as “nylons” still today!
Their combined company holdings were held under the parent corporation known as Wyomissing Industries, having product distribution throughout the world including Cuba, Holland, Japan, and Australia. And by 1936 employed over 9,000 factory and office personnel! Truly incredible businessmen without question, but also genuine philanthropists who provided to their ever-expanding city footprint. Both Thun and Janssen were heavily involved in city zoning to provide suburban housing for the community, for schools, playgrounds & swimming pools, parks and trees alike. They even helped initiate banks to offer many financial services for resident workers and others in the community to better provide to their families. You can read more about it here: http://wyomissingfoundation.org/. I mention this wonderful success story because of this vehicle listed here. During the pinnacle of the company's successes, it needed its very own Fire Company to service the three textile plants in case of a fire.
Offered here is the 1937 Autocar Pumper Apparatus used onsite at the Wyomissing Industries facility. It was a sprawling area that including its own metal foundry, junior college for engineering, medical/dental/eye care dispensary, and cafeteria big enough to hold 1,200 people! It even had its own complex phone, security, and fire alarm system! Why not its own fire department as well! Our 1937 Autocar Fire Truck was built in Buffalo, New York using their 453ci 6-cylinder engine and 5-speed transmission, fitted with a Northern Pump to push 600 gallons per minute if ever needed! It comes with a chrome siren & horns, 40-foot extension ladder, three 10-foot hose sections with screened pick up cap, onboard water tank with hose reel, rear lights, wood lined hose storage box, and Goodyear Hi-Miler 9.00-20” tires! Autocar today still remains the oldest surviving motor vehicle brand in the western hemisphere, beginning in 1899! They specialize in large, severe-duty trucks- logging trucks, dump trucks, garbage trucks, cement mixers, wreckers, etc.
Our pumper has been restored since leaving Pennsylvania; likely sometime in the late-1990's to our understanding. It was featured for several years at the American Heritage “Big Red” Fire Museum in Louisville, MS before it made its way to a private collector in Alabama in 2012. With the need to scale down his collection, we were lucky to have the opportunity to bring this unique 1930's Autocar to our showroom here in St. Louis in January 2021! It continues to start and operate very well, although we have no intentions of testing the pump itself. It represents a wonderful piece of history; particularly to the community it served in Wyomissing, PA. Please feel free to call with questions or to schedule a chance to see it firsthand. Thanks for looking!