By Victoria Espinoza
Kyle Gutman’s wish came true — and then some.
Lloyd Harbor resident Kyle Gutman was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014, at age 17. While undergoing treatment during his senior year of high school, the Make-A-Wish Foundation reached out to him to see if it could grant him a wish. On Dec. 19 Kyle Gutman, now cancer free, received his wish: to have his 1989 Grand Jeep Wagoneer restored.
Kyle Gutman and his father Jim purchased the Jeep together back in 2009 and worked on repairing it for years.
“We bought it together and played and worked on it for numerous years,” Jim Gutman said in a phone interview. “It was fun, he learned a lot with it. But there were many things we couldn’t fix ourselves, and he always wanted to get it fixed up to be proud of it.”
Tim Browner, president of AutoMat Customizing and Restoration, and Make-A-Wish helped bring the Gutmans’ Jeep to the next level.
“He has such enthusiasm about the Jeep, as did the whole family,” Browner said in a phone interview. “You could tell it was more than just a method of transportation, it meant a lot to them. There’s always a reason why someone wants to restore a car.”
Browner restored the interior of the Jeep, with new seating, wood panels and more.
The transformed Jeep was presented to Kyle Gutman at the end of December in Browner’s location in Hicksville.
“It was really nice, seeing the look on his face,” Browner said. “I’m sure he’s going wild with it now.”
Kyle Gutman said he loved the reveal.
“It was awesome, I have never seen it look as good as it did and was very excited that I can finally take it home and use it again,” he said.
Kyle Gutman’s mother Tracy agreed that seeing the expression on his face the first time he saw the Jeep was priceless.
“His eyes lit up,” she said in a phone interview. “It was like watching a little kid at Christmas. He immediately went and sat in the car and it just suited him so. He and his father just kept looking at it like ‘wow.’”
Jim Gutman agreed the revel was exciting.
“We usually see the car outside the house, and it started out as a 17-year-old boy’s car, which typically ends up looking like their bedrooms after a while,” he said with a laugh. “So seeing it super clean and in the showroom was great. It just came out fantastic — I want to drive it everyday.”
Rather than ask for a trip to the Superbowl, or a vacation to a tropical island, Tracy Gutman said this wish is something her son will have forever.
“It’s something to look at to symbolize he beat this [cancer],” she said.
Kyle Gutman said he wanted his wish to be something he could have forever.
“I wanted my wish to be something meaningful that would last for a long time,” he said.
Jim Gutman said he never expected the car to become such an important part of the family.
“We originally just purchased it to be a little bit of a project for us,” he said. “Now it’s more like a collector’s car. I think this car will be around forever; it’ll be a family heirloom.”