A Project For the Whole Village: 1970 Gerstenslager Firecoach

  • March 08, 2021
The Rundown
  • Coachbuilt in Wooster, Ohio
  • 28,745 Miles
  • Propane-Powered w/ Propane Generator
  • International Drivetrain & Chassis
  • 20k lb Front Mounted Winch
  • 1,000,000 Candle Power Search Lights
Why We Like It

After all the years of faithful service to the Roseville, MN community, this fine rig deserves a new lease on life. Recreational Vehicle indeed! The options are almost endless, only limited by one’s imagination. At least that’s what anyone passing along a project will say! In the post-WWII era, Gerstenslager pivoted from the OEM steel body panel stamping business and began focusing much of their energy on building large custom vehicles, like the Firecoach we see here. Also included in their offerings were bookmobiles, mobile dental units, mobile hospitals, x-ray units, and canteens. The lattermost purpose seems to be what the current seller is proposing. Don’t call it a roach coach, it’s a food truck! At first glance, we notice is the short wheelbase and long front and rear overhangs. Hey, at least they’re symmetrical. The front face is all function, a siren, flashing lights and a winch, all of which reportedly work. The 14 exterior compartments may have some treasures lying behind those doors, and it would be a fun project trying to drum up interesting uses for those spaces. Kids love fire engines, maybe it could be a mobile puzzle/playground for the little ones, dress the driver up in a clown outfit? Ok, last one, maybe this could be a doomsday prepper’s post-apocalyptic survival wagon? The options are actually endless.

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a-project-for-the-whole-village-1970-gerstenslager-firecoach00t0t 4vNjvQl65Kxz 0CI0t2 1200x900With any project, it’s important to get an honest assessment of what is needed in order to appropriately prioritize your time, energy, and hard-earned dollars. Based on the seller’s testimony of recent excursions and cold start prowess, it sounds like it’s a strong runner. The calculated seven miles per propane gallon seems decent, we aren’t told how large the tanks are, but if it can run 300 miles, you can rival the range of a Tesla in your motorhome! The automatic transmission is well-labeled with six speeds and clearly marked downshifting options. Power steering, too? Maybe me Nan could drive it! The seller mentions the maple cabinets need refinishing. Hmmm, yes, they’re absolutely right…no #vanlife Insta star would be caught dead rocking those things as-is. At any rate, the sweat equity would be rewarded, and a fresh coat of paint (color change to desert khaki?) would work wonders in selling the vision to others. We’d love to see what happens to it, so whoever pulls the trigger please start a YouTube build series so we can all live vicariously.

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Valuation Verdict

The seller is firm on their price here, and good on ‘em. A rig of this caliber is a worthy endeavor for the right people with the skills and passion to pull it off. When looking for a platform, it’s important to think about serviceability, parts availability, and whether there are any inherent limitations for what you want to do with it. Some research in this area may make your decision for you. We’d like to see a little cleaner interior, but beggars can’t be choosers, as they say. Is it worth it? If you have the ability to do most of the work yourself, or a lot of dedicated friends and family willing to join in on the fun, then yes. We’d say it is worth the premium, because the journey is actually more important than the destination.

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