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Crash Survivor Fights For His Dream

By Tyler Lofdahl

Please tell us about yourself:

I originally got hooked on cars when I was very young. A bright green 60s Mopar rumbled by me in a community parade that my small town holds every year. At that point, I knew I was destined to chase after these cars until I owned one. At 16 I had a few years of saving from summer jobs and bought my first car – a 1988 IROC Z28. It was just a run-of-the-mill car but, to a 16 year old boy, a loud stereo, a loud car, and t-tops automatically puts you at top-tier status. Haha! Over the years I have had a few nice cars and keeping them in absolute top condition led me to a passion in auto body. After years of body shop work I decided, once I graduated high school, I was going to do whatever it took to have my own shop to restore and customize vehicles. That is my passion.

After going to college and getting a construction degree, I went to work doing construction. Not long after, I decided to finally chase my dream, go back to college, and I received my license in auto body.

In 2009 I was on my motorcycle and on my way back to my daily job at a dealership when a semi-truck cut me off and changed everything. I was literally ran over across my pelvis and lower back, breaking my L5 vertebra, pelvis in 4 places, a hip, tib/fib, and I suffered a “traumatic brain injury.” Eight years later, I have spent everything I had saved up and started to track down that dream I had of breathing life back into these old cars so that children can see how awesome things once were, and maybe trigger “the itch” for a few of them too.

Since the doctors had yet to release me back to work, and after a LOT of prayer, I was led to start building my dream shop. Even though I didn’t have enough money to even buy the material, I started in on building. After years of people seeing how perfect my cars always were, they began to ask me to clean theirs. Now, I fund the finishing of my dream shop through my now detailing business, and work towards someday reaching my ultimate goal of finding these cars and then families and people who will adopt them and love them as much as I do.

How did you first learn about Cool Rides Online?

I saw a sponsored post (I believe) asking for pictures of rides to be sent in and figured someone might enjoy a trip down memory lane when they saw mine.

What Cool Rides do you currently own?

I own a 1975 Olds Delta 88 Royale with factory air, factory cruise, lower everything; Indy pace car with 50,000 miles, well-documented, and completely original and unrestored. In fact, I just took the original tires off it last summer so we could start driving it (Old tires were quite dry rotted).

Now tell us a little about your favorite “Cool Ride”; what makes it special?

During the process of recovering from my accident with the semi, I had to sell pretty much everything I owned other than the roof over my children’s heads and my wrecked motorcycle. I sold all of my cars, my toys— everything. Due to my stubbornness I put my motorcycle back together and put it up for sale as well. A guy offered me a busted up sand rail as a trade and I saw my daughter’s eyes light right up when she saw the potential in it so I traded. After getting it running and looking great, we drove the snot out of it. I dropped her off to school in it, took it to church—everything. We loved it but I had recently met my now wife, gotten married, and was expecting my second child so we needed to get rid of the two-seater for something with a back seat. A collector here in Michigan was looking to clear out some cars and make some room so she traded me our rail for the Oldsmobile after hearing our story. That being said, this old boat represents a dream to me. It represents that anyone can do anything if they put their mind, their efforts, and their soul in the right place. This car is a dream in the works. Since we live in Michigan, it is safely tucked in and awaiting warmer days but we can’t wait to see where it takes us in the spring.

What’s next for your Cool Ride?  Planning additional work for it or maybe a special trip/cruise?

As much as I wanted to originally put some bigger wheels on, and a nice air ride setup underneath, I didn’t know just how pure this thing was until after we got it home. I can’t force myself to take off a perfectly-working original suspension until something wears and gives me a reason to. As far as wheels, time will tell. I guess our plan is to start it, put the top down, and enjoy the beautiful Michigan summers on one of the smoothest rides ever put out.

What’s your favorite memory involving your Cool Ride?

My favorite memory is the day I opened up the garage door, with my 8 year old daughter standing beside me, to show her what our hard work and focus had earned us.

What was the most difficult modification you’ve completed on any of your Cool Rides?

Restoring original paint and interior with classics is probably the worst. Makes me nervous.

What is your dream car to own if money was not an issue?

I’m still chasing after that old Mopar.

Taking care of collector vehicles is not easy.  Do you have any special tips on how to take care of your Cool Rides in and out of storage?

Best advice I can give is to take it to a professional or find one that will come to you. Wax is your friend.

Is there anything else you’d like the Cool Rides Online members to know about you?

I hope for my story to inspire others to go after their dreams. Be it a car, a business, or a future. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Happy motoring, everyone!!!

Check out Tyler’s Shop here!

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