David Balkevitch, with his 1972 Pontiac Ventura, takes “The Angry Pumpkin” to local car shows and cruises. The Center Line resident keeps the car’s Halloween theme all year long.

David Balkevitch, with his 1972 Pontiac Ventura, takes “The Angry Pumpkin” to local car shows and cruises. The Center Line resident keeps the car’s Halloween theme all year long.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

‘The Angry Pumpkin’ is a spooky ride

By: Maria Allard | Metro | Published October 20, 2023


METRO DETROIT — With his 1972 Pontiac Ventura, David Balkevitch celebrates Halloween all year long.

Whether he’s displaying the vintage model at the weekly Sandbaggers Bar & Grill car show in Center Line or speeding down the Lapeer International Dragway, the spooky holiday follows him.

Balkevitch and his wife, Annette, purchased the sunset-orange car when they married in 2012.

“The guy I got the car from called it ‘The Pumpkin’ because it’s orange,” Balkevitch said.

Balkevitch renamed it “The Angry Pumpkin” because of his early days with the car.

“I bought used parts for it,” the Center Line resident said. “They didn’t work with the car, so I called it ‘The Angry Pumpkin.’”

The moniker stuck, and a boo-tiful Halloweenmobile was created. Not only is the car orange — Halloween’s signature color — but Balkevitch displays the car as if it’s Oct. 31 every day.

Whenever he and Annette take the muscle car to a show or cruise, they add several creepy fixtures, including orange lights in the interior. Skeletons with jack-o’-lantern faces in the front and back seats look like they are ready for a “Monster Mash” up. The ghoulish mannequin in the driver’s seat even wears a racing jacket.

Also surrounding the ’72 Pontiac are more jack-o’-lantern skeletons, including one dressed as an angel with a halo and another in a devil outfit with horns. Another monster can be seen torquing lug nuts on a tire. When checking out the car, watch out for the giant spider before grabbing a piece of candy.

The Balkevitches take the car to local car shows, including Leason’s Dairy Bar and Grille in Warren and Autorama at Detroit’s Huntington Place. It’s also been a hit at many trunk-or-treat events.

“People honk and wave. There are more people that love Halloween than I thought. People know the car because it’s been on TV and in magazines. Anytime it’s on TV, I get phone calls and text messages,” Balkevitch said. “Kids don’t always like to go to car shows, but they’re drawn to (the Ventura). They love it. They ask about the year and if it’s a race car.”

And the classic car owner always lets parents and kids sit inside the car and take photos.

“It’s just a fun car. I’ve always been doing it for the kids. A lot of kids love the smallest little details,” Balkevitch said. “The smiles on their faces mean more than anything. It makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing. Hopefully they’ll keep the classic cars alive.”

Balkevitch also shows up at charity events with the car in an effort to help different organizations. He likes to share the car with others because of his own experiences with his children when they were young.

“My kids both had head surgeries,” he said. “The Ronald Ronald McDonald House (Charities) helped me out a lot.”

The vintage vehicle features a hydraulic roller cam, Mad Dog Headers and a four-wheel disc brake conversion. It’s received recognition at different car events. One year, the Ventura was deemed the fastest street car at the Pontiac Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, giving Balkevitch “bragging rights.”   

The Ventura was victorious as the 2019 All Out Live Lapeer Dragway Street Car Class winner. One of the best track times was driving 129 mph in the quarter mile at 10.18 seconds.

Balkevitch is also grateful to two people who have helped him.

“Thank you to David Pemberton. I got the car and motor from him,” Balkevitch said. “Keith Domijan, he helped me troubleshoot it.”

Domijan has since died.

Balkevitch continuously works on the car to keep it in tip-top shape. He knows cars pretty well.

“My dad was a mechanic. I always helped him work on cars,” said Balkevitch, who inspects the Ventura every week. “You never know what could go loose or break.”

He takes the Ventura out every week.

“It’s a good stress reliever,” Balkevitch said. “If you have a bad day at work, you can get in your car and go for a ride.”