Saturday, December 28, 2013

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1962 Magirus-Deutz Mercur 125A Fire Pumper

Over the last few years I've noticed a mysterious influx of German fire trucks in San Francisco. One was a Mercedes-Benz 508D which last I checked was owned by Make Magazine. Someone found an old Opel fire truck in the Sunset District and now we look at this 1962 Magirus-Deutz Mercur 125A fire pumper which hails from the same general area.
The Magirus-Deutz is an unusual choice for an urban vehicle, but it was exactly what its owner wanted. A blurb on the New York Times online Collectible Cars section describes the truck as an air-cooled 7.5 liter diesel V6 with a manual transmission, all-wheel-drive and great off-road. As a pumper truck, it uses a VW Beetle engine to drive a portable auxiliary pump capable of moving 200 gallons per minute. The primary water pump can handle 600. According to the owner, the truck served the Wiesbaden fire department in Germany, then later transferred to the Sinntal-Sannerz area. The owner purchased the truck, shipped it to Nova Scotia, and drove it down to the US and across the country to California.

I first found out about this truck on Google Street View. It was a crazy find and I knew I needed to track it down for real. What are the odds of finding another 50-year-old obscure German fire truck in this state? At first glance I was perplexed and disappointed to see the Mercur badge affixed to the front. With part of the R broken off, I thought someone was trying to be funny and stuck on some emblem from a 1950s Mercury car. After a lot of Googling I couldn't find any American Mercury badges that matched. Turns out that Mercur is the actual model name of this truck. Magirus is the manufacturer, known abroad for their firefighting equipment (they invented the swiveling turntable fire truck ladder) and Deutz AG provided the diesel engine. Magirus trucks were named after planets because some models had planetary gears in the rear end.

This truck is a little rough around the edges, but I expect a tough old 4x4 service vehicle to show some wear. It's very unusual, very cool and I think inherently interesting.

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