Kevin Kryzanowski loves his 1961 Dodge Suburban-even if it’s linked to a family tragedy.
Kevin’s stock looking ’61 ‘Burb was originally a yellow factory equipped ambulance for Holden, Alberta Canada Smith’s Ambulance Service so naturally it was on the front lines for many medical emergencies.
One of the Dodge’s passengers as a working ambulance was Kevin’s wife’s father and unfortunately there wasn’t a happy ending.
Kevin was unaware of that when he got into a bidding war for the old wagon with his brother back in the early 80s. To him the car was a rare, low mileage classic from the early 60s-to his brother the roomy old Dodge was a great hunting vehicle. In the end Kevin clearly won with a bid of $750.00 in 1981 dollars.
His brother’s reaction-“you (insert mild swear word here) I wanted it for hunting”.
Kevin wanted to get rid of the ambulance yellow paint so after a successful year of work in the oil patch he put a paint job on the old Dodge back in the 80s. He painted it to match the front seat. He also found a back seat for the car out of a 1960 donor car “traded it for a flat of beer”. So far that’s about it for restoration. After that he’s really just enjoyed the car and in 2010-thanks to good storage and maintenance the old Suburban is still a nice solid original car.
The only real problem Kevin has with the car comes from within-his family puts pressure on him every year to get rid of the funny looking old Dodge and buy a “muscle car”. His 15-year-old son refuses to be seen in the car-if he’s forced to ride in the Dodge he ducks down in the back seat to avoid sliding down the adolescent respect totem pole.
Kevin’s a strong willed guy-he knows what he has. A rare bulletproof, low mileage car that can pull down over 20 miles per gallon on trouble free long trips. A car that steals the show even when it’s parked away from a show. A car that makes a row of 30 early-70s Cudas at a Mopar show look pretty tame by comparison. Kevin is very happy with his 30-year “old ambulance-car guy” relationship.
But we had to ask the obvious question. How did Kevin’s wife cope with the tragic family link to the ambulance? She’s actually very pragmatic about it- she was five when it happened and she doesn’t remember too many details plus she realizes that a former working emergency vehicle has many similar stories.
Her biggest concern isn’t the history of the old Dodge-it’s the fact that it isn’t a really nice pink ’71 Challenger. Kevin has fought that battle for years and he expects to for many more years to come but as he says “I’m going to hang on to it”.
Understatement at its finest.