Bruce Tschida had no idea that his itch to fix up a 1932 Ford coupe would turn into a bonding experience for his employees and his friends.
In 1989, Tschida started doing bodywork and painting at Lake Marion Collision in Lakeville, Minn., which he now owns. He has a great passion for cars, and he loves fixing them. He always has.
So when he found the ’32 coupe in 2006, he jumped at the chance to restore it. He had been looking to fix up a street rod, and had done some muscle cars in the past.
The coupe had been a project that a friend of a friend had started but never finished. He found the car through the help of his friends and was able to fix it with their help, too.
One or two nights a week, he and his buddies would go to the shop for what they called “old car night.” They had done this for years, taking turns fixing each other’s cars. They would use the night to work on a vehicle for three or four hours, and as Tschida put it, they would talk, laugh and goof off.
Even though they had fun, they worked hard, he says. The coupe was an entire rebuild; it had no paint on it, and it had no interior. The guy who had the car before him had bought a chassis and the suspension, but the rest was up to Tschida and his friends.
They started gathering all the parts and making sure they fit and worked well. The motor is a 302-cubic-inch Ford. He bought an intake from Australia because he wanted something different, he says. “No one in the U.S. had that,” he says. “I wanted something unique.” The rest of the mechanical parts he got from various U.S. manufacturers.
While his friends were a big help, so was his shop staff. They used the car as filler work when the shop was slow, Tschida says. They helped with mechanical and body work whenever they got the chance.
It took three years to complete the mechanical and body work, and then it took about a year to paint it, he says. Every part was buffed and painted—even the motor and transmission, he says.
The car is copper-colored with a leather almond and copper interior. The interior was sent to Iowa, where a highly recommended upholstery shop owner had a project backlog of about a year. Tschida even drove three hours to Iowa to meet the man and schedule the upholstery job. But he says the final product was worth the wait.
All and all, the project took about four years to complete, and he estimates the entire project cost about $10,000, although he doesn’t know for sure. “I’m never going to add up all the receipts,” he says. “It’s still my hobby, and it’s my passion. If you put a dollar figure to it, then it’ll ruin it.”
He loves taking the car to shows, but other than that he rarely drives it. Since 2010 he’s only put 1,000 miles on it, he says.
It’s his prized possession. It’s won several trophies and plaques in shows in Minnesota and Canada. He says the number-one compliment he gets is the best compliment you can hear: “Nice car.” The coupe gets a lot of respect.
But truly, his friends and employees deserve the credit, Tschida says.
“I have many, many people that helped out, lent a hand, and from people that do and don’t work with me,” he says. “But it’s my passion. Maybe it’s contagious.”