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Cross-Country Cruiser

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Scott Bjorgo’s entire life has centered on car restorations. He’s rebuilt at least 40 cars of his own since the age of 12, not to mention a plethora of others for friends and customers. But if you ask him, the standout of them all is his 1940s Chevrolet convertible.

Bjorgo picked up a rusty 1947 Chevrolet convertible for $1,500 in 1999. Soon after, he found a 1946 Chevy four-door sedan for $500. Since those cars have similar body and floor styles, Bjorgo was able to cut them apart, salvage the good parts from each, and weld the components together to make his dream cruiser.

The convertible was mostly rusted, but fortunately, the door panels and frame were still in good shape and could be salvaged. He cut the sedan apart, removed the fenders and floor, and mounted them on the convertible frame. He says the parts required quite a bit of “slicing and dicing” to fit, especially on the rear end around the taillights.

PIECE BY PIECE: Scott Bjorgo’s 1947 Chevy convertible borrows parts from several vehicles, including a Mustang front end and a Corvette engine. Photo courtesy Scott Bjorgo

Bjorgo then installed a Mustang front-end suspension, a ’68–’72 Chevy Nova 10-bolt posi rear end with 3.73:1 gears, a Chassis Engineering leaf spring kit, and front and rear sway bars. Finally, he dropped in an LT1 fuel-injected engine and a 700R4 transmission.

The tan interior was the final step of the yearlong project. Bjorgo had been searching for the perfect interior, and lucked out when a 1988 Chevy Nova was towed to his shop—Scott’s Auto Body & Sales in Strum, Wis. After removing the headrests, the top of the seats fell perfectly even with the top of the convertible’s doors so they wouldn’t stick up when the top was down.

‘Those seats were exactly what I was looking for,” Bjorgo says. They even recline because they were taken from a four-door car. “It’s such a pretty car. The whole thing turned out really nice.”

Bjorgo, 57, has driven hundreds of classic cars in his day. But he says the Chevy convertible is the most fun. He’s even got the mileage—and a bit of road rash in the PPG red paint—to prove it.

The car has been Bjorgo’s cross-country cruiser since completing the project in 2000. He’s put on more than 50,000 miles en route to dozens of car shows throughout the western half of the country.

“Out of all the cars I’ve built, I’ve had this one the longest and put the most miles on it,” Bjorgo says, adding that he would put even more miles on it if he lived more than a block away from his shop. “It’s a fat-fendered car so it’s a nice ride. It’s been a lot of fun for my wife and I.”

Although Bjorgo refers to the car as his baby, and even treats it like one—he talks to it in the garage—he laments that it’s time to part ways after 13 years of memories. He’s got 20 other cars inside his garage, and something has to go to make room for the next project.

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