Curbside Classic: 1970 Mack CF-608 Pumper – Manning Up?

(first posted 1/14/2012)   There are not a lot of uses for a used fire truck.  Sure, a smaller fire company or city will buy an older unit from a bigger Department, and some really old ones are kept by larger Departments for parade duty.  But once a truck ages out of the firefighting business, what do you do with it?

I love big old vehicles, but they come at a cost.  They are much harder to garage, and they can be more expensive to feed if you drive much.  Now, take this dilemma, multiply by ten, and we have today’s subject.

The Mack CF series came out in 1967 to replace the older C series.  When new, these were the crown jewel of many fire departments.  By the time the design was retired in 1990, it had become Mack’s most popular firetruck of all time.

There is an awful lot that I do not know about old fire apparatus.  Several books worth, actually.  For example, I am fairly mechanically inclined, but I would hate to be put in charge of this bank of gauges and controls at a fire scene.  But I do know that for those of us around the mid century mark, this was the prototypical modern fire truck for most of our lives.

Fortunately for me, the good people at Mack were thoughtful enough to identify the year, make and model of this truck right on the label.

Of course, even without the label, I got the Mack part right away.

When writing about an unfamiliar vehicle, I like to spend a little time reading up on whatever sources that may be available online.  Here, however, there is not a lot of information out there other than many ads advertising similar trucks for sale.

From what I can gather, the CF600 series was well thought of by fire crews all across the country, and that it was a durable, reliable unit.  Alas, these are leaving active service regularly, replaced by newer equipment.  Even the smaller fire companies are moving these out of their fleets.  It seems that a number of firefighters miss these old Macks, despite the five speed transmissions that required some skill to shift smoothly.

So, even the best old fire equipment has to find something else to do, eventually.  This particular truck reached that point in its career in 2001.  About that time, some fans of the Indianapolis Colts football team decided that this old Mack would make a great vehicle to show support for the local team.  Sort of a rolling pep rally.  I guess that an old firetruck can be a star attraction at tailgate parties.  Think of it as a really big centerpiece.

This group has its own ambulance too – the Fanbulance.  Maybe I will catch up with it one of these days.  I know a lot more about old Ford Econolines than I do about old Mack trucks.

I was driving through a parking lot late last summer and found the big blue pumper parked behind the tavern that serves as one of the local hotspots for the home team.   Although I knew absolutely nothing about Mack firetrucks, it was clear that I had to stop and shoot some pictures.

I am a casual (at best, and in fair weather) sports fan.  My poor football-loving father and grandfather got me, who could only think about cars.  So, as sort of a turnabout, my own son is a sports fanatic who could undoubtedly rattle off the name of the quarterback for a visiting team who played in the third quarter of a game in 1982, and probably which hand he threw with.

I will also confess that I started this piece near the beginning of the NFL season late this past summer, but just could never muster the enthusiasm to finish.  If you follow the NFL (and the play of the Colts in particular this year), then you will have some idea why I have been so lacking in enthusiasm.

But, with the NFL season ending (certainly for the Colts), it was time to dust off the old Mack and put it out there for the CC faithful.  After all, even if its team did not do so well this year, an old Mack Bulldog is always worthy of some respect.

Unlike in some other recent years, the big blue Mack has not been tooting its airhorn all that much recently.  Colts fans have been sort of, well, blue this year.  But even in a bad year for the team, the old Mack pumper has been out there to rally the faithful.  Although I am not superstitious about football, maybe this old Bulldog will bring Luck to the team.


More Mack material at CC:

Mack B-61: Resting After Its Many Exertions  PN

Mack R Series: Rock Solid Since 1966  PN

Mack DM 4×4: The Really Tough Mack   PN