MOST people returning from the USA bring home a souvenir – but few opt for a full size vintage fire engine.
Hughie Powell, who lives near Shipston, returned from a business trip to Massachusetts with a 12-litre six cylinder 1921 Seagrave fire engine.
The 67 year-old, who began working life as an apprentice tractor mechanic at Lumley Saville in Stratford in the 1960s, has collected unusual commercial vehicles, especially of French vintage, for several decades.
He said: “I’ve always liked American machinery because the build quality is usually extremely high. They put big engines in things because the petrol is so cheap.
” We put £70 of petrol in the tank and it was still only half full. So it’s very thirsty, but I won’t be using it every day. I’m hoping next year to do the London to Brighton Rally for Commercial Vehicles in it.”
Hughie has been turning heads driving the highways and byways of south Warwickshire in his new motor.
“I’ve been driving round lanes on dry afternoons and took it to my local pub which caused a stir. I went to one car meeting which had 30 or 40 vintage vehicles there and it stole the show.
“I may exhibit it at local fêtes next summer and look for ways to raise money for local charities.
“It’s noisy because there’s no silencer but people don’t seem to mind. It’s also quite fast. There are three gears and you can take off in top gear which saves changing. It’ll cruise at around 40 mph.
“Once you’re moving, the steering is not light but manageable. The breaking system provides you with a means to slow down – rather than bring you to a halt – but the high capacity engine works as a brake as well.”
Hughie is boss of Cotswold Decorative Ironworkers, a company that manufactures and installs classic parkland and deer park fencing, ornamental gates and bridges.