Hard Work for a Blue Beauty
Starting with just the tools in his toolbox, Tom Schlieckau restored a 1970 Coronet and has come a long way since.
Courtesy Tom Schlieckau
Tom Schlieckau grew up on his family’s farm near Loganville, Wis., and he attributes his passion and determination for fixing cars to the work ethic he learned on the farm.
“We’re all farmers, on my mom’s side too,” says Schlieckau. “So when I was growing up, any birthday or Christmas party always stopped around four o’clock because we all had to go home and milk cows.”
In the early 1990s, Schlieckau restored his first car. “I put an ad in a magazine saying I was looking for a ’70 Coronet because I had seen one at a car show and figured I gotta have one,” says Schlieckau. He found a ’70 Coronet 500 in Milwaukee, went down to pick it up and paid $3,000 for it.
“It had your typical rust on it, but I didn’t think it was that bad until I started tearing it apart,” says Schlieckau. He found a lot of rust, and only had a welder and a few tools to restore it. He borrowed his dad’s torch, built a rotisserie to put the body on and got to work.
He added a few newer pieces to the car, such as the bucket seats that weren’t a part of the original car. He also put in an original console and a ’73 Charger automatic slapstick shifter. “It looks like it belongs there,” says Schlieckau about the shifter. “The rest of the car is the way it should be from 1970.”
Schlieckau also put an R/T emblem on the car. “I made it look like an R/T even though it isn’t one,” he says.
Toward the end of the restoration Schlieckau’s brother got engaged, and it was the perfect motivation for him to finish the car. “My brother had his Roadrunner, another guy had a ’73 ’Cuda, and someone else had a Buick Skylark,” says Schlieckau. “It was quite a muscle car wedding.” His brother’s wedding was in April 1995, two years from when Schlieckau first started working on his car.
“He’d be discussing his wedding and between the two of us it was more about the excitement of us driving the cars than the actual wedding,” says Schlieckau, who finished the car in time for the wedding. “I always thought that was kind of funny.”
He admits the bright blue Coronet is not his best work. But he keeps the car around as a reminder of how far he’s come in his career.
And since the early ’90s, he’s come a long way. Schlieckau has owned his 6,000-square-foot shop for 10 years.
Right now he’s working on a ’69 Charger and a ’37 Oldsmobile four-door. And his Coronet, which he figures is worth about $20,000, is sitting in the garage for the winter, though he wishes he could drive it. “I’m a true believer that you fix up these cars and drive ’em,” says Schliekau. “That’s why they were made in the first place.”
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