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Wargo's 1967 Nova Build Puts a 'Crazy' Twist on a Classic Car

John Wargo is proof that big things can come from small towns. John and his wife, Kim, own The Custom Shop, in the small Central Illinois town of Flanagan. For the past 32 years, the shop has created some of the top auto builds in the nation.

1967 Chevrolet Nova built by John Wargo and The Custom Shop

“I bought my first car when I was 14, so I’ve been a die-hard car guy my whole life,” said Wargo, who is participating in the virtual 2020 Builder Challenge powered by CTEK.

Wargo’s entry is his 1967 Chevy Nova. “We build a lot of muscle cars at the shop, and I really like the body style of the Nova,” said Wargo. 

In his designs, Wargo is known for “putting a wild and crazy twist on things.” The Nova is no exception. His yellow and gray paint scheme has the wow factor. 

“There are a lot of hidden graphics within the graphics. There’s a hex mesh pattern faded into the paint and ghosted dollar signs coming off the Nova lettering. The top yellow goes down to a darker fade, and there are five colors in that fade transition. The bottom charcoal fades two colors from top to bottom. There are a lot of drop shadows and 3D highlights almost floating on the paint job. The level of detail in the artwork really makes this car jump.”

1967 Chevrolet Nova built by John Wargo and The Custom Shop

Wargo added, “We’ve done a lot of carbon fiber stuff on the build to take it to the next level like a high-end race car.”

Taking things to the next level has been a hallmark of Wargo’s builds since the beginning.

While still a high school student, Wargo purchased a total of 16 vehicles. “Back then you could buy a car for $250, spend a couple hundred working on it and sell it for $1,000. Then flip the profits into the next project. I’m still doing the same thing all these years later … it’s just gotten more expensive,” he said.

1967 Chevrolet Nova built by John Wargo and The Custom Shop

Wargo opened The Custom Shop three months after graduating from high school. “In our town of 1,000, there was an old Chrysler dealership that had sat empty for a year-and-a-half. I went to the bank and begged and pleaded with them to give me a loan so I could buy the building. It’s the same building I’m in today,” he said, adding The Custom Shop is a family business with his wife, mom, son, and daughter all working for him. His father also worked at The Custom Shop but has since retired.

“There were people who told us on Day 1 a high-end custom shop in a town of 1,000 would never work,” said Wargo. Through hard work and dedication, Wargo and the staff at The Custom Shop have proved them wrong.

“We’ve had more than 300 magazine features as well as 60 magazine covers. It all goes back to hard work. There are a lot of good shops out there, and good shops stay busy,” he said.

Wargo relies on CTEK battery chargers for his builds. “A lot of these show cars don’t get used on a daily basis, maybe once or twice a month. We were having customers come back because their batteries were dead. Once I switched over to CTEK a number of years ago, I’ve seen a 100% turn around in not having those batteries go bad.”

1967 Chevrolet Nova built by John Wargo and The Custom Shop

“It’s made for happier customers because they’re not kicking the tires because their battery is dead, and it saves me having to go pick up the car and replace the battery. In my opinion, a CTEK charger is part of the build, it’s not an add on,” he said. “We’ve been in this business for 32 years, we’ve seen products come and go, and we don’t want to give our customers something we can’t stand by. CTEK is the perfect example of a good product. We use it on all of our projects because it works so well.”

In the virtual Builder Challenge powered by CTEK, Wargo will showcase his 1967 Chevy Nova on social media alongside other CTEK sponsored builds. Fans will have a chance to vote on their favorite build here with the winning builder receiving a CTEK prize package. One lucky voter, drawn at random, will also receive a CTEK prize. Voting will be open Nov. 2-6. For more information, visit CTEK on Facebook or Instagram.


  • John Wargo and his wife, Kim, have owned The Custom Shop in Flanagan, Ill, for 32 years. For more information on Wargo’s builds, visit his website at or visit his Facebook page.


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Bobbie DuMelle, Executive Vice President
CTEK North America
(312) 967-1430