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September Truck of the Month: Plum Mist Mack

SASKATOON, SK — Andy Zary of Saskatoon bought a 1959 B61LT Mack from Chuck Fitzgerald of Edmonton in 1968, when it was a day cab with one million miles on the odometer. Zary put the truck to work through Saskatchewan and Alberta pulling a flat bed until 1974, when he decided the rig needed a rebuild.

Zary repowered it with a ENDT-673-C  Mack; tweaking the motor to 300 hp. He also lengthened the frame to 235 in. and added a 54-in. sleeper. And kept it on the road.

By 1980, the Mack had travelled 2.3 million miles.

Nineteen eighty-two was time for another upgrade. That meant:

  • an air-over-spring front axle;
  • a rebuilt rear axle;
  • a 64-in. standup sleeper;
  • tinted and etched windows;
  • 16 chrome gauges;
  • chrome and stainless steel engine components;
  • chrome and stainless step boxes, light panels, full length deck plate, rear fender brackets, rear light panel, stainless steel air-line box.

Saskatoon Welding custom-fabricated all the stainless work. Cliff Johnson of 5 Star Truck Collision in Saskatoon painted the truck with “Endura” paint, from Edmonton.

A.L. Zary Transport Inc., ran from 1963 until 1999. In 2000, Zary and his wife Irene started showing the Mack throughout North America and by 2013 they had accumulated more than 100 trophies.

On March 16, 2009, Irene Zary passed away. And you can’t talk to Andy for more than 15 seconds without her name entering the conversation.

“Irene and I worked together for 36 years,” Zary says. “I would be out driving and she ran the show—dispatching, doing the books, everything—from home.

“When we expanded to six trucks, she said ‘you’re coming home,’ and that’s exactly what I did.”

Zary was born in Alvena SK, in 1933.

He left the family farm when he was 17 and moved to Sioux Lookout, ON., to take a job cutting pulp wood. From there, he tried Toronto, Saskatoon and eventually Kitimat, where he met Irene. They have two children, Randy and Laura, and a granddaughter Ebonie. 

“So,” I asked Zary, “Was your granddaughter named ebony after the color of this truck?”

“The truck,” he responded, “is not black.

“It’s my color.”

When they were refinishing the Mack in 1982, Zary painstakingly worked with the paint supplier, blending purples and black until he arrived at what he calls “plum mist.”

“I don't know what it’s really called, but it changes depending one what time of day you’re looking at it. It’s dark purple at night and black in the sunlight.”

That’s the same precision he and Irene took to their trucking operation. “When our guys pulled into a yard, people would know it was us. They’d come down and look at our equipment.

“Our drivers were always very neat and our equipment was always clean.”

Although he’s soft-spoken and very polite, Zary is one of those people who commands instant respect.

Commented one trucker who met Zary recently: “He’s very well liked, by everyone. He’s so nice you’re almost afraid of disappointing him.

“Everybody wants to meet him.”

And now you have.

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