Highway 61

1941 GMC Pumper

By:  Larry Lorance
With a special thanks to Mike Legeros

August 31, 2003

Highway 61 Collectibles was founded in 1996 by Fred Ertl III. Mr. Ertl is the son of Fred Ertl Jr., past president of The Ertl Company, Inc. and grandson of Fred Ertl Sr., legendary toymaker and founder of Ertl.  Highway 61 Collectibles is located in Dubuque, Iowa.  

Highway 61’s “goal is to develop the highest quality product at the greatest value to the customer who demands exciting and high-detailed replicas.”   They have truly lived up to this goal with the introduction of two model fire trucks: 

1941 Chevy Pumper

For those of us dedicated collectors of model fire apparatus, we pay attention to detail. Highway 61 took great pains to guarantee both models would be authentic.  According to Patrick Valant, of Highway 61, “we worked with a consultant who sells fire apparatus and collects real trucks to help make sure we were authentic as we could be.... within the constraints of a 1:16 scale die-cast metal model!”

For the purpose of this article, I am reviewing the 1941 GMC Pumper.    

This massive 1:16 scale truck measures over 17.5 inches (20 inches tip of ladder to front of model) long x 5 inches tall x 5.5 inches wide.  Because of its size, it takes a bit of getting use to viewing a model this large.  

The paint and graphics are flawless!   Highway 61 has done a dazzling job striping and lettering this model with simulated gold “leaf”.   The red paint job is smooth and shinny, indicative of an engine just off the showroom floor.   

The truck’s cab doors open and are hinged just like the trucks of this time period.  The truck’s interior offers great dash detail, metal looking peddles, gear shift, mechanical parking break, steer able wheels (turning on a realistic worm gear mechanism), hand crank for the front windshield (see photo below), and a bench seat.  The speedometer is readable.  The interior doors have hand window cranks door handles.  

Driver's side view

In 1941 GMC and Chevy trucks were supplied with a hand crank that
will allow air to flow through the front windows (click to enlarge).  However, the
window does not move out on this model

The engine is covered by a three-piece, piano-hinged hood with a small handle on the lower side panel with functional hood props on each side.  The engine itself is a fully wired and plumbed inline 6-cylinder. 

Lighting detail is amazing.  This model sports opaque lens over the rear spot lights, driving lights, and large front searchlight (you get an extra searchlight in case one comes up missing).  You can even read the manufacture’s name and see the inside of the red “gumdrop” light located on top of this model!   The siren is believable and has a red lens cover over the front.  The front turn signals are not painted and are made of orange opaque plastic.  The rear light appears to be painted but does display well.  

Close up photo of "Gumdrop"

The functional extension ladder works like a real one with threaded string to extend the ladder.  A few notes concerning the ladder.  The ladder on the real truck is a two level ladder.  The ladder on the model is a three level ladder.  To me, this is not big deal.  At first, I thought the ladder was too long.  However, after seeing photos of the original truck with ladder and researching the Internet I am convinced Highway 61 did a outstanding job reproducing such a complicated device!   

Photo provided by Highway 61
explaining ladder length

Photo Provided by Highway 61
notice the three ladders

You can keep going and going with the detail of this great model.  Including the following: 

Close up of hose reel and water tank fill.  Notice the bolts on the
simulated wood planks and water pump to the left.

The only drawback I can see with this model is the hose bed.   To me it is too neat.  However, the hose itself appears to be real though.  

Whether you choose the GMC or Chevy with its chrome grill, this model may very well become the collector’s bargain of the year providing you have the space to display it.  If I had to do it again, I would have chose the Chevy because of the chrome grill.

The BIG Chevy Photo - Click on photo -  will take some time to load

This model retails for $84.99 and can be purchased directly from Highway 61 or a number of Internet web sites.   

I would like to thank Highway 61 for their photos.

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