Bjorge’s ‘1ANONLY’ 1934 Buick Victoria gets attention

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 16, 2000

At first glance, you would not guess that David Bjorge had been featured on television and in a national magazine.

Saturday, December 16, 2000

At first glance, you would not guess that David Bjorge had been featured on television and in a national magazine. He doesn’t boast or brag about the recognition he has received. Yet his humility cannot hide the pride he feels in the greatest manifestation of his hobby – a 1934 Buick Victoria.

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Bjorge’s zinc-silver Buick is featured in the January 2001 edition of Rod and Custom magazine, currently on news stands. Bjorge himself was interviewed for ESPN’s "Street Rodder" series.

This story begins long before the Buick was an award winner. Bjorge first eyed the car in 1989, eight years before he bought it, when a friend directed him to it in Fargo. It was an anemic shell of the car that currently sits in his garage. Yet once he saw the car and it took hold, it would not let him go.

His father-in-law, Dick Trimble, warned him that restoring the Buick would take too much money, so Bjorge bought a 1948 Cadillac instead. Occasionally he would ask his friend about the Buick and was always told that it was still available.

The Cadillac was Bjorge’s first restoration effort, after finding it north of town, seeing the Buick and initially rejecting the idea of owning it. Bjorge worked on the Cadillac during evenings and weekends for four years. Outside the Cadillac looked original, but inside it contained all the comfort elements for a smooth ride. This was the same concept Bjorge later utilized to restore the Buick.

Trimble later agreed to buy the Cadillac, and Bjorge decided to make the Buick his – that was February, 1997. After spending weekends and evenings restoring it, Bjorge was driving it by April of this year.

"When I was driving it home, the interior was flapping and it was just a mess. People would drive by and either give me a thumbs up or down," Bjorge said. It was as if they were approving or disapproving of his investment.

The 40 Series was the smallest Buick that was ever made, though the appearance is still quite imposing. This model was manufactured for only two years. While Trimble is knowledgeable about car bodies, Bjorge knows about chassis, so combined they had the ability to conceive of the car design and carry it out.

Work done on the street rod included chopping the top by 2.5 inches, laying the windshield back 1.5 inches and stretching the front end fenders and hood by six inches. The effect is a more streamlined and aerodynamic design.

Bjorge installed Corvette front and rear suspensions, as well as steering and brake systems. The engine is an LT-1 fuel-injected General Motors V-8. Added features are leather interior accents, air springs and an El Dorado sunroof, which pops up and slides.

Bjorge purchased Budnik wheels at the Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Ky. The headlamps are from a Honda Valkyrie, and balance the handmade grill nicely, Bjorge said. He even installed a remote-entry door system.

Once again, Trimble was invaluable to Bjorge in his efforts. "He’s a real whip-crackin’ guy," Bjorge said after laughing. "It would probably have taken a couple more years if it wasn’t for him."

After all the effort to create such an exceptional result, along came the honors.

The "Street Rodder" segment Bjorge’s Buick appeared on aired on Nov. 30. It including a segment on the manufacturer of Bjorge’s custom seats, Tom Ashton of TEA’s Seat Designs Inc. of Rochester. Bjorge saw Ashton’s work at a car show in Madison, Wisconsin and knew that he could make the appropriate seats for the Buick.

"He was very helpful with the interior," said Bjorge. "I knew that I wasn’t going to buy another car like this one, so I figured I might as well do it right." Bjorge said that his wife Kathy continually urged him to spend the money to make the Buick the best it could be.

Bjorge’s Buick was photographed for Rod and Custom near the state building at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, during the "Back to the 50s" weekend, which is an MSRA event. Bjorge is a member of both the Minnesota Street Rod Association (MSRA) and the National Street Rod Association (NSRA).

To date, the Buick has been honored with several trophies:

– Car of the Year at the 14th annual Cruisers Car Club show in Cannon Falls

– People’s Choice Award at Eddie Cochran Days in Albert Lea

– Best of Show at the Lyle Classic Car Show

– Second place and Best of Show at the Sundowners Car Club Ninth annual car show at the Defeat of Jesse James Days

– Choice at the Y-105 FM 2000 Car Cruise at SPAMfest in Austin

His car was nominated for Car of the Year at the Cannon Falls MSRA show. To be nominated, a car must pass an MSRA inspection at a show and attend one of six MSRA voting events each year.

Having raced stock cars for 24 years, Bjorge had already received several trophies prior to those for the Buick. He raced locally, at Chateau Speedway and in Rochester. He also traveled to special races in places like Phoenix, Thunder Bay, Chicago and Mason City.

He quit racing in 1982 and worked at Hormel Foods Corp. and at USEM Chevrolet for 15 years before his current position. Today he markets golf course aeration units with his son.

Since the "Street Rodder" segment and the coverage in Rod and Custom, Bjorge has received offers to buy the Buick over the phone. He has not considered selling yet, it is still "too new."

This car isn’t one that will sit in the garage for long, once the summer comes. "It’s a driver," Bjorge said. Bjorge reports that when he and wife Kathy take it out for a trip to eat or to the store, the trip takes twice as long, because of the attention the car brings their way.

The awards the Buick has received and the reactions Bjorge continues to hear from car enthusiasts confirm what the license plate proclaims: This car is a "1ANONLY."