Ahrens-Fox Fire Truck Highlights Detroit’s Reid Museum Collection Auction At Heritage

A fully-equipped, 24-foot Ahrens-Fox N-S-4 fire truck, originally ordered by the Biddeford, Maine, Fire Department in 1928, and then restored to original state by Glenn Reid, is expected to bring more than $110,000, on May 28, as the highlight of the Reid Museum Collection of Mechanical Models, offered as a Heritage Gentleman Collector Auction in Dallas.

“There is a powerful presence to the vehicle” said Nick Dawes, Vice President of Special Collections at Heritage Auctions. “Ahrens-Fox has long since been considered the Rolls Royce of Fire Trucks and, like a Rolls, holds a combination of mechanical and artistic majesty that is a perfect legacy of Glenn Reid.”

This historic Ahrens-Fox is being offered for sale for the first time since being acquired by Glenn Reid, who served as a volunteer fireman in his youth and maintained a lifetime respect for historic fire equipment and his firefighting brethren. A fourth-generation Scottish American born in 1931 in the heart of the Motor City to a father who was chief engineer in the early days of General Motors, Glenn was destined to have oil in his blood and grease under his fingernails.

Like many young boys of his generation, he received a Lionel train set as a gift from his father. Unlike many, however, Reid turned the gift into a life-long passion for the art of the mechanical object, mastering subtleties of engineering as a young man, ultimately developing his skills into a manufacturing company and his passion into a museum dedicated to fueling future generations with the wonders of engineering.

Building his factory and museum a few miles from where his hero, Henry Ford, did the same thing a century ago, Glenn always identified with Henry Ford, concentrating on the development of machine parts made from vulcanized rubber, a historic American product Glenn formed into an essential ingredient in modern motors through his unique combination of engineering and entrepreneurial talent and mastery of practical chemistry.

The Glenn Reid Museum Collection of Mechanical Models also includes a fascinating selection of live steam model trains and steam engines, some designed as toys but many made as engineering samples or commercial display models, hand-built to the highest standards of precision. A few models representing the dawn of flight as well as a world-class collection of mechanical scale-model automobiles from the early 20th century — many hand-built by the world’s finest makers — also figure prominently in the collection.

Among the gems are superbly detailed unique replicas of Reid’s favorite historic automobiles — a 1904 Mercedes Simplex and a 1913 Mercer Runabout by Fine Art Models of Michigan — a delightful hand-built Stanley Steamer, several powered models including a 1957 Ferrari race car, and a remarkable collection of vintage German driving school instructional models, all superbly restored.

Reid’s love of trains is evident in the selection representing railway history. His eye for detail and authenticity glints in some of the finest 1.8 scale models ever built, mostly limited editions by leading companies such as Fine Art Models of Michigan and Aster of Japan, makers of the highest quality live steam model locomotives of modern times.

During military service Glenn Reid served as an engineer and later acquired detailed military models including one of the M5A 1 Stuart Tank he worked on and the most impressive model of a classic Jeep Heritage specialists have ever seen.

Rounding out the collection is a fine selection of ship models curated to illustrate four centuries of maritime trade and industry. Among the most poignant are two superbly detailed scale replicas of America’s most ill-fated vessels, the USS Arizona — infamous for her destruction at Pearl Harbor — and the freighter Edmond Fitzgerald, which rests today on the bed of Lake Superior.

“This collection appeals to anyone with a passing interest in the history of engineering or transport, and of course those of us who never grew up” said Dawes. “Glenn Reid’s legacy continues in this powerful collection, the collectors who will care for the various parts of it once it crosses the block and in the young people who will benefit from the generosity of the Reid Family Foundation.”

All proceeds from the auction go to the Reid Family Foundation, dedicated to continuing Reid’s passion for local youth development under the guidance of Reid’s daughter, Sheri Reid Grant.