Perhaps the most collectable of the Tonka Toy Jeeps is the Pumper (#425). Prices for this fire Jeep on the online auction sites go into the hundreds of dollars for good examples. This version of the Jeep was produced by Tonka only from 1963-65.
Rather than being a toy designer's fantasy, as so many other fire Jeep toys are, the Tonka pumper is quite closely based on the Jeep fire engines sold through Willys dealers in versions from the CJ-2A through the CJ-5. Although these Jeeps were built by various fire engine manufacturers, they used a consistent design.
A water tank was sometimes included in the rear; other versions used the rear compartment for a large hose bed, and were designed to be used with a water trailer. The overhead ladder rack is a common feature. One prominent detail not included on the Tonka is the front-mounted crankshaft-driven pump. The Jeep in the photo is a Howe Fire Apparatus CJ-3B.
See more full-size Fire Service Jeeps on CJ3B.info.
The Tonka doesn't need a pump; the water sprayed by its miniature hose is provided by any garden hose. The hose retracts into the rear superstructure, which can also be removed. The ladder is finished in either red or chrome.
The small hose is attached directly to a connector on the rear for the garden hose water supply. Don't turn the water on too hard!
The two fire extinguishers on the rear step are mentioned as a feature, in the Tonka "Look Book" catalogues of the era.
The Jeep Pumper was apparently phased out in 1965, along with the larger Suburban Pumper and Aerial Ladder which had been around since the fifties, in favor of a new pair of fire trucks with the futuristic "Super Thrust" cab (30K JPEG). They were joined in 1967 by the Mini-Tonka Gladiator Fire Fighter and Cherokee Fire Chief.
One of Steve Mark's "Virtual Tonka" renderings is a virtual Jeep Pumper at the scene of a blaze.
See more of Steve's Virtual Tonka Toy Jeeps.
For more actual Tonka Jeeps, return to the Toy Jeeps Pages.
Also on CJ3B.info, see more Fire Service Jeep Toys. -- Derek Redmond
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