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National Trust of South Australia


Reo Fire Engine

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Fast Facts
Also known as Fire Engine, Reo Speedwagon hose carrier
Type of thing Government
Date made or found 1928
Place made Lansing, Michigan
Place used Adelaide S.A., Mallala S.A.
Place found Mallala Country Fire Service
Current location Mallala Museum S.A.
Used in 1928 - 1985
Ceased use 1985

Reo Fire Engine [hose carrier]

The vehicle on display at the Mallala Museum is a 1928 Reo Speedwagon model DA, Reg. No. RCV730, Engine no. 16E23449. It is a 6 cylinder side valve motor and has 4-wheel hydraulic brakes. It was imported from U.S.A. as a cab/chassis and the fire engine body was built in Adelaide. The Reo’s early years in service were spent in Adelaide until World War Two when it was delivered to the RAAF No. 6 Service Flying Training School at Mallala, where it was used for fighting fires from 1941 to 1945. The Reo was then returned to the S.A. Fire Brigade in Adelaide, but in 1965 it was purchased by the District Council of Mallala. It was used as a back-up vehicle by the Mallala E.F.S. for firefighting in the town of Mallala only, as it carried no water and needed to be connected to a water hydrant. In 1981 the Mallala C.F.S. members repainted the Reo using funds supplied by the D.C. of Mallala. The REO Fire truck was replaced as a working unit in 1985 by a new Ford Trader.

The Reo was finally donated to the Mallala Museum for safe keeping. In 2011 some work was done on the Reo with a new 6 volt battery and hoses purchased. In late 2015 a new honeycomb radiator was fitted and the vehicle is now in very good mechanical condition.

The Reo Fire Engine is a regular entrant in the annual Mallala Christmas Street Parade, being used to convey Father Christmas to the Mallala Oval.

A history of the Reo Motor Car Company

Ransome E. Olds was an entrepreneur who founded multiple companies in the automobile industry. In 1897 Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company [later as Oldsmobile, to become part of General Motors]. In 1905 Olds left Oldsmobile, and established a new company, REO Motor Car Company, in Lansing, Michigan. Olds had 52% of the stock and the titles of president and general manager. Originally the company was to be called “R.E. Olds Motor Car Company”, but the owner of Olds’ previous company, then called Olds Motor Works, objected and threatened legal action on the grounds of likely confusion of names by customers. Olds then changed his companies’ name to his initials – R.E.O. – which soon became one word – Reo, and the Reo Motor Car Company was in business.

A truck division was added in 1910 and in the following years built models such as Speedwagon from 1915, Flying Cloud from 1927 and Royale from 1931. In 1936 Reo ceased the production of automobiles to concentrate on light trucks and fire engines.

The company finally closed its doors in 1975.

Related Articles


  • Mallala Brigade C.F.S.
  • Mallala Museum records
Reo Speedwagon Fire Unit
Reo Speedwagon Fire Unit
Reo Fire Engine
Reo Fire Engine
1977 MALLALA School Centenary
1977 MALLALA School Centenary
Mallala Museum volunteers working on the Reo
Mallala Museum volunteers working on the Reo
Reo Fire engine
Reo Fire engine
Reo Fire Engine
Reo Fire Engine

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