We often talk about companies like Ford and Mercedes-Benz that have their automotive roots over 100 years in the past, but those aren’t the only old-timers in the industry. One of the oldest had been American LaFrance, a company that had been building firefighting vehicles for over 180 years. Notice that we said ‘had been…’
The company’s roots go back to 1832 as a firefighting equipment maker. It began building steam-powered, horse-drawn fire engines in the era before the internal combustion engine and merged with LaFrance in 1903 to become one of America’s leading fire engine builders. Unfortunately, the 21st century was not been so kind to the company. Freightliner bought it in 1995 and production was moved from North Carolina to South Carolina, but it was sold again in December 2005. After declaring and emerging from bankruptcy in 2008, American LaFrance moved to a smaller factory in Moncks Corner, SC, in 2013.
American LaFrance’s previous owner, Patriarch Partners, issued a statement to South Carolina newspaper The Post and Courier that said: “Unfortunately, the company’s unexpected current financial condition requires the discontinuation of operations in these locations at this time and these facilities are not expected to reopen.” Autoblog attempted to call American LaFrance for comment, but its listed phone number no longer works. It seems that the brand’s flame has finally been extinguished.