Very few people can boast their garage contains a 1932 Chevrolet Luverne fire truck. Chris Fairholm has for 12 years.
Many years ago he told his father-in-law, Ken Kenoyer, he was interested in owning an antique fire truck. His opportunity came when Kenoyer called and said, “Are you still interested in owning a fire truck? I found one for sale on the south side of Des Moines.” Fairholm responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” They went quickly to check it out.
An 84-year-old man had donated the fire truck to the Early Wheels of Iowa Club. This club doesn’t run modified cars, but all original if possible. So the six-cylinder engine fire truck had few modifications except for some paint and an electric fuel pump. They no longer wanted to store the truck. With some good gas and a little tinkering, Fairholm and Kenoyer started it up and drove it to Winterset.
Fairholm hasn’t done much work to the truck since he purchased it. He added a flag pole and needs to restore the ladders. Their family affectionately calls it their “convertible.” Its top speed is 35 mph, and he says “That’s pushing it.” But they enjoy taking it out for a ride or a stop for ice cream. In fact, his wife, Kelli, and his daughters have taken it for a joy ride a time or two even though it is a difficult manual transmission. It has also been used in various parades.
Five years ago, Fairholm was contacted by a young woman who inquired about the fire truck. She believed it had possibly belonged to her grandfather and wished to see it. Her grandfather was the original owner and donator to the auto club. She asked if they could hire him to escort them from their wedding to their reception. Fairholm, who has been a firefighter with the Winterset Fire Department since 1995, was more than happy to help them out and even donned his uniform for the occasion.
The fire truck still carries the original horns, fire extinguisher, pike pole and water hose. His favorite thing about owning the truck?
“It’s a fire truck, an old fire truck, and no one else has it,” Fairholm says. “Our goal is to just keep having fun with it.”