Hell. Yes. '15 American-LaFrance 14.5 liter Speedster … 'nuff Said.

No, this isn’t a replica of Lord Humungus’ chariot of death … it’s an American-LaFrance Speedster, circa 1915. This eBay find is so chock full of the primordial building blocks of unprecedented hooning potential that it’s difficult to summarize. Let’s begin with the fact that this is a factory-built race car constructed around that own company’s pre-WWI fire truck chassis. It has an 802 cubic inch, 105 horsepower T-head six-cylinder engine that sends power rearward via a freakin’ chain drive!

Look at that! Cylinders cast in pairs! And each of those individual cylinders displaces 2.41 liters, in case that conveys the gravity of the situation. To stop all of this mass, you had mechanically actuated brakes – on the rear only.
It’s not like this behemoth could ever be registered on the road without a significant bribe, but if it were, I think the only appropriate license plate holder would have to read, “Look on my works, all ye mighty, and despair!” Plus, the monocle windscreen is WAY classier than any neoclassical continental trunk kit. You’ll get all the truck-stop babes driving this one!
eBay Motors

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  1. Z71 Avatar

    Some vids of this beast for your pleasure:[youtube Deysp2vYM4U http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Deysp2vYM4U youtube]
    [youtube xks4ztbn6VY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xks4ztbn6VY youtube]

    1. Z71 Avatar

      Sorry, it was supposed to be two different videos. Here's the other: [youtube xks4ztbn6VY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xks4ztbn6VY youtube]

      1. Han_Solex Avatar

        You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. Thanks for the vids.

    2. FЯeeMan Avatar

      I do not envy that man a 3 point turn.

    3. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      Holy christ it's huge!

  2. engineerd Avatar

    Anyone who buys this could pretty much be guaranteed invites to the Monterrey Historics and any other vintage race of their choosing. Wow. Just wow. That is steam punk before there was such a thing.

    1. CypressCarNut Avatar

      I think Leno's favorite fire truck is an American LaFrance. He's be the obvious frontrunner. Although, I hope someone with a lesser pedigree gets it. Like 5-10 hooning buddies pooling all of their money and buying this wondrous beast.

  3. Tanshanomi Avatar

    What an odd coincidence. Last Night's episode of Nature on PBS was all about scientists who are researching the primordial building blocks of unprecedented hooning potential.

  4. Tanshanomi Avatar

    This is proof that seeing one's own death can be arousing.

  5. scroggzilla Avatar

    I never get excited over vintage race cars with engines displacing less that 20 litres, that aren't named after the Devil. Behold the 21.7 liters of eeee-ville that is the Fiat Mephistopheles!
    <img src="http://www.bigscalemodels.com/cars/fiat_mefistofele/fiat_mefistofele_photo_big/1924-Fiat-Mephistophele2s.jpg"&gt;

    1. Murilee Martin Avatar
      Murilee Martin

      AIIIEEE! That's the Greatest Car Ever Made!

    2. joshuman Avatar

      Thanks, I needed a new desktop image.

  6. P161911 Avatar

    I really don't see why it couldn't be registered for the road. It has headlights and a brake light. I'm pretty sure it meets all safety and emissions standards for 1915 (NONE!). Shouldn't be too hard to get a tag in most states. I wonder if the headlights are electric or acetylene?

    1. CptSevere Avatar

      My guess is acetylene. Looks like a carbide generator attached to the right hand frame rail.

    2. blueplate Avatar

      Excellent point — now all you have to do is convince the lady at the DMV/RMV/SOS/OPP that the car was really built in 1915 — with patina and "character" like that, shouldn't be too hard, eh?
      I like how Keith Martin (also of Sports Car Market) wrote up in his auction summaries for Automobile magazine a couple of years ago, that a certain car wasn't probably street-legal, but if you had a "dealer plate" then you'd be able to drive it around all you wanted, no questions asked. Some day, when I become a man of means, one of my side businesses will have to be used-car dealing. At least, enough to get the plates!

  7. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Love the speed holes in the front axle.
    I'd go with "I am become death, destroyer of worlds"

    1. Han_Solex Avatar

      You're right, I have no idea why Ozymandias popped into my head instead of the Dr. Oppenheimer's erudite recitation of Hindu scripture. That would have been a lot more appropriate.

  8. _Tomsk_ Avatar

    I'm in love. Pretty much the Can-Am car of its day.

  9. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Wait…is that an updraft carburetor?
    Also, checking the listing reveals the engine in aluminum and the whole thing only weighs 5500lbs. Not bad for such a behemoth.
    Also: there will never be a cooler windshield.

    1. Murilee Martin Avatar
      Murilee Martin

      Hey, updrafts work on Cessnas!

  10. PowerTryp Avatar

    Do my eyes deceve me? or is this thing actually electric start? Cause I'm sure this was an armbreaker before it got converted.
    Looking at this and a few things pop into my head.
    First, everything on this beast would have been hand made which means that if you buy it you better be damn skilled in the art of creating parts or have some rediculous hook ups in the area of parts fabrication.
    Second, nomatter who you are, where you live or what your sexual prefferance is this thing will stir some sort of emotion from you and that right there is the power of history and the leap we've made technologically in the past 100 years.
    Third, Toyota could learn a couple things about how to build a frame from this beast cause almost 100 years old and not a touch of rust deeper than the surface.

  11. CptSevere Avatar

    Oh, man this is so very cool. I watched the above video and drooled. My non motorhead buddy of the earlier Cougar post was here, too, and was unmoved. Funny how that works. How can you explain this type of awesomeness to someone who doesn't even own a set of socket wrenches? I thought of pointing out how you can watch the exposed pushrods going up and down, but would have been met with a blank stare. Some people just don't get it.
    Now, show the guy a pretty rock or rich ore sample and he gets all exercised. For example, a bunch of us were exploring a nearby abandoned mine and he and another guy were gouging pretty rocks out of the rib (wall) while I was freaking out over finding an outrageously cool steam powered hoist that's been underground for a hundred years, and is complete. They looked at it, shrugged and got all excited over a bunch of azurite. Philistines. No taste whatsoever.

  12. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    That's so mind numbingly awesome. Think about the conversation that caused this… "well gents I want to go fast, but we only have these truck parts lying about… EUREKA!"

  13. […] American-LaFrance 14.5 ltr speedster Hell. Yes. ‘15 American-LaFrance 14.5 liter Speedster … ’nuff Said. : Hooniver… __________________ "I'll tell you what rule we applied, sir. We applied rule 3 0 […]

  14. Technomancer Avatar

    There are some that believe an automobile should be a simple, effective, reliable means to get from point A, to point B with as little hassle and fuss as possible. Others see automobiles as a necessary evil. But those of us who truly appreciate these mechanical creations experience something more. To look upon a car like this, and to realize how many hours a man (or men!) labored to create it; the thought that went into its design, and the tremendous effort that went into even its smallest details…
    This sort of vehicle is not a conveyance. It is an experience. It possesses something more than the sum of its components, and only those of us who can look beyond its crude materials can sense its soul.

  15. Ed Hass Avatar
    Ed Hass

    Does anyone here understand that this was a custom-made fire engine hand-crafted by very skilled artists, each one to a custom specification, and has now been severely modified? It is like handing a paint brush to your 5-year-old and telling him or her to modify the original of the Mona Lisa, and stripping off the body is akin to removing the diamonds from an original Faberge egg. You may think the result looks cool, but you have ruined a priceless work of art. I'm sorry, there were plenty of powerful racing cars in that era, or you can buy all kinds of modern replica parts and make your own antique-looking race car, for example you can make a Ford T-bucket hot-rod without using a single piece from an original Ford T, but to do this disrespects the skilled artists who hand-crafted the original fire engine. I had a friend who in the 1920's used to hand-hammer fire engine sheet-metal to order, that is a skill and an art that we have lost and their handiwork should be preserved.

    1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5b/American_LaFrance_Simplex.JPG/500px-American_LaFrance_Simplex.JPG"&gt; Mr. Hass, you probably don't know this, but ALF made speedsters in the 1910s and not just fire apparatus. The company has a long and interesting history. <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9c/1916_American_LaFrance_Speedster.JPG/500px-1916_American_LaFrance_Speedster.JPG"&gt;

  16. Mark Avatar

    i have this Engine in a Fire truck. I am looking for parts. do you have any? or know where to get any. coil, cap and rotor and distributor.

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