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Making dreams come true

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By Doug Ponder

A LaRue County vehicle restoration business is helping make classic car owners’ dreams come true.

The Shoebox Shop is a family owned classic car and street rod restoration center that is located on 4754 Old Elizabethtown Road in Hodgenville. The business restores and services a wide variety of classic cars, street rods, bicycles, gas pumps, signs, vending machines and much more. Their hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Owner Jim Hornback opened the Shoebox Shop in 1991 with his wife Patty. Hornback said he got the idea for the business after telling a friend that he would love to own a 1957 Chevy Sedan Delivery.

“My friend found one in a tobacco barn less than 50 miles from our home and I bought it. I began the frame-off restoration of it and started driving it in May 1995. I started restoring similar cars for other people and it snowballed into a business throughout the years,” Hornback said. “I became known for restoring 55, 56, 57 Chevys, which are commonly referred to as shoebox cars. That is what gave us the idea to call our business ‘The Shoebox Shop.’”

Hornback said his family has been involved in mechanics, drag racing, tractor pulling and flying airplanes for more than 50 years. He said The Shoebox Shop actually evolved from Jim’s Repair Shop in the 1960s and Hornback Engineering in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I started part-time with a small two bay shop while also working full-time as a certified automotive instructor and a supervisory training specialist as a civilian for the U.S. Army at Fort Knox,” Hornback said. “Now we have a 15,000 square foot facility that has individual shops that work on specialized functions like our disassembly and evaluation shop, blasting and frame restoration, modification and fabrication shop, paint and body shop, finish shop and our upholstery shop. We do everything in-house except for re-chroming, which we out-source to another family owned business in the state.”

Throughout the years, Hornback said that he has been invited to concourse events and other “invite only” car shows throughout the nation. Hornback has also won numerous prestigious awards including the “Top Gun” award with their red 55 Chevy at the McCormick Place car show in Chicago, which is known as the nation’s largest car show.

“These shows and awards have helped us build up our clientele as we take our product to show people and they see it firsthand. We now restore classic cars from all across the nation including California. We have a lot of clients in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois too,” Hornback said. “We have also been featured on the well-known car show ‘My Classic Car’ and I was interviewed by Dennis Gage who hosts the show. We have been very fortunate and blessed.”

Hornback went on to say that he and his family love what they do as they see restoring vehicles as a way of also restoring lives.

“Some people want the vehicle restored to its original condition with all original parts, interior and everything. Some people want a retro-mod where they want their classic car restored with a Corvette engine, power windows or a satellite radio. Whatever the customer wants, we can do for them,” Hornback said. “These cars mean a lot to the owners and our restoration not only restores the car, but it restores them in a way as well.”

Hornback went on to say that he encourages everyone to visit their facility and see their work firsthand. He also encourages local car clubs or other groups to visit and schedule a tour of the facility.

“I would say six out of ten people that drive Hwy 210 don’t have a clue what we do here,” Hornback said. “We encourage people to come in and take a step back in time as you see the items we restore.”

For more information about The Shoebox Shop visit www.shoebox-shop.com or call 270-358-4838.