Luverne Automobile Company 1904-present - Luverne, Minnesota - later Luverne Motor Truck, Luverne Fire Apparatus, now Crimson Fire Apparatus


Brothers Al and Ed Leicher were former coachbuilders who manufactured Minnesota's finest luxury automobile through the middle teens. Later devoted the factory to heavy trucks and fire apparatus.

Offered a motor hearse in their catalog starting in 1915. Since total Luverne auto production through 1917 was only 300 vehicles, hearse output was fairly small, probably less than ten funeral vehicles built in total.

A history of Luverne states that soon after the Leichers built their first car in 1904, they began building a variety of special-order vehicles: sleeper cars, an aluminum-bodied race car and automobile hearses. 

Most of Luverne's bodies were 100% wood and their beautiful 8-columned carved-sided hearses were no exception.

Changed name from Luverne Motor Truck to Luverne Fire Apparatus in the mid twenties.

"Wisconsin" truck built by Leicher Brothers.


LUVERNE (US) 1912-1923

Luveme Motor Truck Co., Luveme, Minn.

The Leicher brothers began to make passenger cars in 1903 and were particularly known for the 'Big Brown Luverne' of the 1914-1917 era. In 1912 they produced their first hearse and fire engine, both using 6-cylinder Rutenber engines, and truck production began shortly afterwards. Passenger cars were dropped in 1917 because trucks were more in demand, but by 1923 they found that there was too much competition from bigger manufactu­rers in this field too, and they concentrated on making fire engines on other people's chassis, in which business they are still active today. The last truck was a 3-tonner powered by a Continental 7N 4-cylinder engine.


Crimson Fire began manufacturing fire apparatus in 1912 as Luverne Auto Company in Luverne, MN. Although the company's earlier origin is difficult to trace, documents indicate that in 1896 the Leicher Brothers purchased what was then identified as Luverne Wagon Works. For the next six years, the company continued to manufacture quality horse-drawn wagons and buggies.

Forced by industrial changes, in 1903 the company produced its first automobile, eventually producing the very first motorized funeral coaches in the United States.

The Luverne Auto Company also manufactured a line of trucks; including the very first tilting box dump truck in the nation. Then in 1912, the company manufactured its first fire truck. By 1915 they were producing their first engine pumper. Eventually, Luverne was building trucks for cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, Tulsa and many others.

During this time, another manufacturer, Quality Manufacturing, was making fine fire apparatus in Talladega, AL. Quality was founded in 1962 with the philosophy of providing quality products and services to the fire fighting industry. This philosophy made them the preferred manufacturer for departments such as Dallas, Birmingham and Atlanta.

Since their beginnings, Luverne and Quality have shown their ability to innovate and their willingness to change. In 1997, Spartan Motors, Inc. purchased Luverne Fire Apparatus and Quality Manufacturing. Now in 2003, these two companies with over 130 years of combined experience have merged, forming a new, greater company - Crimson Fire.

Crimson Fire Apparatus

In the 1990s, Spartan entered the fire apparatus and ambulance markets by acquiring three well-known manufacturers: Luverne Fire Apparatus, Quality Manufacturing and Road Rescue. In 2003, Spartan consolidated Luverne and Quality under the Crimson Fire name in order to leverage its engineering, design and manufacturing expertise in the fire apparatus market.

Spartan Motors

Spartan Motors, Inc is a world leader in the design and manufacturing of custom chassis that serve as the foundation for premium motorhomes, fire trucks, transit buses, step vans and other specialty vehicles.

In 1997 Spartan added significant depth to its product line and capabilities by acquiring three companies in the fire and rescue market. These acquisitions now known as the EVTeam include fire truck body manufacturers Luverne Fire Apparatus and Quality Manufacturing, and ambulance manufacturer Road Rescue, Inc. Luverne and Quality were combined in 2003 to form Crimson Fire. Crimson Fire builds fire pumpers, aerials and rescue apparatus, while
Road Rescue builds advanced-care ambulances and emergency vehicles.

Road Rescue


    For more information please read:

Curt McConnell - Great Cars of the Great Plains

Walter M.P. McCall & George H. Dammann - American Fire Engines Since 1900

Fred W. Crismon - Fire Engines

Bob Dubbert - Encyclopedia of Canadian Fire Apparatus

Donal M. Baird - A Canadian History of Fire Engines

Phil DaCosta - One Hundred Years of America's Fire Fighting Apparatus

Bill Hass - History of the American Water Towers

Hans Halberstadt - The American Fire Engine

Hans Halberstadt - Fire Engines

T.A. Jacobs - A History of Fire Engines

Matthew Lee - A Pictorial History of the Fire Engine

M.W. Goodman MD - Inventing the American Fire Engine: An Illustrated History of Fire Engine Patents

Consumer's Guide - The Complete Book of Fire Engines: A colorful Review of Today's Fire Apparatus

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines in North America

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines: Motorized Apparatus Since 1900

Neil Wallington - World Encyclopedia of Fire Engines: an illustrated guide to fire trucks around the world

Keith Ryan & Neil Wallington - The Illustrated History of Fire Engines

Paul Barrett - Heavy Rescue Trucks: 1931 - 2000 Photo Gallery

Larry Shapiro - Aerial Fire Trucks

Larry Shapiro - Fighting Fire Trucks

Larry Shapiro - Hooks and Ladders

Larry Shapiro - Pumpers: Workhorse Fire Engines

Donald F. Wood - American Volunteer Fire Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Big City Fire Truck 1900-1950

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorensen - Big City Fire Trucks: 1951-1996

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorenson - Motorized Fire Apparatus of the West, 1900-1960

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorensen - New York City Fire Trucks

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorenson - Volunteer & Rural Fire Apparatus Photo Gallery

Kenneth Little - Chicago Fire Department engines: Sixty years of motorized pumpers, 1912-1972

Kenneth Little - Chicago Fire Department hook & ladder tractors, 1914-1971

Ron Jeffers - The apparatus of the Jersey City Fire Department: Yesterday and today

John Rieth - Jersey Shore Fire Apparatus: Classic Thru the 60's

Philip R. Lincoln - Massachusetts fire apparatus: A pictorial Collection

Charles Madderom - Los Angeles City Fire Apparatus: 1953 Through 1999 Photo Archive

George Klass - Fire apparatus: A pictorial history of the Los Angeles Fire Department

John A. Calderone - Wheels of the bravest: A history of FDNY fire apparatus, 1865-1992

Peter Aloisi - Apparatus and fires across America: Featuring former FDNY apparatus

Scott Schimpf - Fire Apparatus of Philadelphia

Harrold Shell - Past and present: A history of Phoenix fire trucks

Leo E. Duliba - Industrial & Private Fire Apparatus: 1925 Through 2001 Photo Archive

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

William T. King - History of the American Steam Fire-Engine

John M. Peckham - Fighting fire with fire: A pictorial volume of steam fire-fighting apparatus


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