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Blue ’34 Ford Coupe: Why change a good thing?

Blue ’34 Ford Coupe: Why change a good thing?

Bruce Lilige of Appleton, Wis., says he was about 14 when the old-car bug bit him. He was working with local farmers baling hay and he was also mowing lawns and doing odd jobs. It was while he was mowing the lawn of his grandmother’s neighbor that he peeked in a chicken coupe and saw an old Ford roadster that was on its way to becoming a hot rod. . 
The car belonged to a man named George who was older than Bruce.  The two became friends and started working together on a hot rod project for Bruce. Robert—Bruce’s older brother—also got involved. A nearby stock car racing track also inspired the brothers to build a hot rod with some real performance for that era..
In July 1963, Bruce had the opportunity to buy a ’34 Ford coupe/ He paid  the royal sum of $125 for the car. It had no fenders, no engine, no transmission and four flat tires. It was essentially a body and frame, but it was his. 
Working with a tight budget, Bruce relied on other “car guys,” junkyards, donor cars and ideas from hot rod magazines to keep his build going. By October 1963, he had constructed a crude-looking Ford hot rod with used tires, a rebuilt 283-cid Chevy V-8, a junkyard-sourced transmission and dark gray primer paint.
Over the next decade, the Ford was treated to some upgrades, mainly of a cosmetic nature. In the summer of 1964 it was painted dark blue. Some chrome engine parts were added, along with the steering gear from a Ford F-1 pickup truck. Chrome American Mag wheels were added and a pair of bucket seats was pirated from a ’64 Ford Galaxie. Bruce installed a Chevrolet three-speed transmission with a Hurst shifter and a 4.56:1 posi-traction rear axle.
In 1965, Bruce married his wife Nancy. For two years after that, he drag raced the Ford at Wisconsin International Raceway. He added roll bars, a tach, dual four-barrel carbs, a scatter shield and racing slicks (wide, smooth tires). Bruce won a few trophies, but he also found that the car wasn’t really set up to be a top drag strip competitor. Still, the C-altered coupe had a best run of 11.6-seconds in the quarter mile with a terminal speed of 110-mph.
In 1967, the Liliges had a daughter and two years later a son was born. By 1973, a second son was on the way and a “family” car was needed. The 1934 Ford was sold to buy a Model A sedan that took three years to restore. In 1977, a second daughter was born. Over 30 years passed as the family was raised.
Bruce’s sons grew interested in his past projects, especially the 1934 Ford. In 2002, his son Mark traced down the car’s owner, but could not buy it back.  The car had not gone far from home, but the owner was not interested in selling it. Ten years later, that decision changed and the car came back to Bruce. It looked exactly as it did when he sold it in 1973. Why change a good thing?
Bruce’s coupe is a perfect fit with today’s interest in “old school” hot rods. It’s a perfect example of a typical rod of the early 1960s and it proves that not every hot rodder of that era was in love with primer paint and a lack of chrome. The Blue Coupe is shiny and accented with a fair amount of bright work and Bruce has no plans to change anything. “It’s just like it was years ago,” he says.