The Blue Loralee
I’m sure you’ve all watched a car overhauling show at some point in your life. Some of you, I bet, are addicted to those shows; otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many of them on television. I don’t claim to be an expert in the ways of mechanics, and truth be told I NEVER wrench on a car— I know better. Every time I’ve ever tried to work on a car I only ended up breaking something that wasn’t broken in the first place. It ends up costing me twice as much as it would have had I simply taken it to a professional. I try to stick to what I know when it comes to cars.
Recently though, we met a young woman with a good sense of mechanics. She and her father took a wrecked 1952 Chevy truck, threw about nine years of hard work and tears into it, and brought that old baby back to a useful life—Loralee’s everyday ride! The BLUE LORALEE.
My name is Loralee Bader. My family moved to Farmington from Altenburg, Missouri, (pop 352) in 2002 because of my dad’s job. Dad Marcus is a maintenance supervisor for Siegel Roberts Global where he has worked for the past 13 years. Mom Lois works with me at the Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center here in town. We are both psychiatric aides. My brother John is starting his senior year at Farmington High School. He also has a bit of a project car…an ‘84 Pontiac Trans Am. My boyfriend, Luke Church, spent four years active duty as a Calvary Scout, serving one tour in Afghanistan, eight months in Germany, and 18 months at Fort Bliss. He is currently a drill sergeant-in-training serving in the Army Reserve.
I am 19 years old and graduated Farmington High School in 2014. I have worked at the Mental Health Center for about one year. I am attending Mineral Area College and majoring in criminal justice. Currently, I am on track to graduate in two years with four different degrees in the criminal justice field. I know this will open many doors for me in the future. In ten years I’m not sure where I’ll be, but Secret Service would be cool.
My Dad and I rebuilt my truck in an empty barn on my grandparents’ farm in Altenburg. The farm used to be home to lots of pigs, chickens, and cattle. Today, the many barns sit mostly empty. We bought the 1952 Chevy truck in 2005 I was only nine years old. The first thing we did was transfer the truck to a modern Camaro sub frame. Then, we made the switch from the three-speed manual to a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. We also replaced the 216 with a 194 for a more modern engine. The truck progressed slowly and everything was going well. In 2010, dad had a bad bicycle accident that had him out of commission for almost a year. In that time I worked on the body of the truck grinding and sanding it down to the metal. Then, dad recouped and we were ready to paint the truck a pearl white. By 2012 we had her running and looking sharp.
By that next summer, I was ready for a different look because white was too ordinary for my taste. I like to stand out. We painted the truck flat black then added the chameleon flake. After several coats, we achieved the perfect paint job for me. The chameleon flake gives the truck the appearance of changing colors from black, to blue, to green and purple. Once I moved out of my parents’ house, I was allowed to swap the 194 for a 350 V8. While my mother was always proud and supportive of me through school, she did not appreciate the lovely sounds of a V8 rumbling through 15 inch glass packs that seem to turn the head of every grease monkey around. Now I love to cruise around town watching the kids of all ages point and yell, “Nice truck!” Toddlers pointing and old folks waving make me proud to drive my old ‘52.
If I were to give any advice for other project cars, it would be to start with something you can expand on and don’t just buy a shell of a car. Buy something you can make run before you begin rebuilding. A project car is not something that can be completed in a few months. It takes time, money and LOTS of patience. Do not get discouraged; remember your original dream, and know you are on your way there. My father and I did all the work ourselves without anyone helping us. We knew body work as well as mechanical work. Our project took us eight years and an estimated $7,000 to complete. If someone were to pay to have the work done, projects like this could easily cost up to $30,000. We kept telling ourselves “time and money” and we got through it.