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Converted Fire Truck to Real, Live Ramblin' Wreck

Aug. 27, 2014

Sam Huffman, 30, a salesman from Atlanta, Georgia, on his Georgia Tech tailgating fire engine, as told to A.J. Baime. See complete slideshow on WSJ.com.

My friends and I all went to Georgia Tech. We were moving onto different stages in our lives and we wanted something to bring us back together. We’re Tech football season-ticket holders, so we had an idea to create a tailgate vehicle that would go along with the traditions of the school, celebrating engineering.

We acquired a 1977 Pierce fire engine originally commissioned by the Chesterfield-Union Township Fire Department in Indiana, for $2,800 on eBay.

It had only been out of service for about 90 days, we were told. You can drive it with a regular driver’s license. The truck runs on regular unleaded and gets about 4 miles per gallon, so the trip from Indiana back to Atlanta was eye-opening.

We installed a grill in one of the cargo storage boxes and a keg in another. We vinyl wrapped the truck, built a deck up top, and bought speakers and a flat screen. Each year we add something new. The siren works, but we don’t use it.

On game days, we get to Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field around 7:30 am, and we call ourselves the Grant Field Volunteer Fire Department. The truck draws crowds to say the least, and it goes along with the team’s fight song: “I’m a ramblin’ wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer.”

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