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Restored car to compete at Churchill show

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By John Friedlein

 

Box The Churchill Downs car show, featuring rare and elegant autos, is part of the Louisville Concours d’Elegance. It is from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. General admission tickets are $20. Kids 12 and under get in free. Proceeds benefit Brooklawn Child and Family Services.    

By JOHN FRIEDLEIN

 

jfriedlein@thenewsenterprise.com

 

Famous horse trainer Woody Stephens, of course, has stood in the Churchill Downs winner’s circle.

 

If there’s a Woody there Sunday, though, it likely will sport a luggage rack instead of a fedora.

 

An Elizabethtown man’s 1948 Chrysler Town & Country sedan, adorned with wood panels, will be in a car show Sunday at the Louisville track. It will be the first time an automobile will be the center of attention inside the winner’s circle.

 

John Potts’s father bought the car in 1953 for $1,000. After it was taken off the road, it languished in a barn for a long time.

 

Potts was hesitant to have just anybody restore the car. He finally went with Shoebox Shop owner Jim Hornback, whom he called “very particular.”

 

Since recently getting his car back, Potts has taken it for a spin.

 

“It turned a lot of heads,” said Potts, co-owner of Hardin County Honda.

 

Chrysler made 1,176 of them, and only 56 are known to have survived, said Hornback’s wife, Patty.

 

Car dealers back then would display them in showrooms because they were so different. But at $3,200, the price was so high not many people could afford them. But the autos were a draw for customers who would look at less-expensive models, Patty Hornback said.

 

“It’s just really pretty,” she said of Potts' car.

 

Jim Hornback said he took it to a show in Franklin and set up a sign that said "do not touch" — but people touched it anyway because the wanted to feel the smoothness where the wood fit together.

 

“These were the luxury cars of their time,” Patty Hornback said.

 

It had advanced features, like a third brake light and a fluid drive, which was like automatic transmission before such a thing was popular.

 

She called it “absolutely gorgeous.”

 

The car’s complete restoration took 10 months — a long process of sanding, staining and inserting pieces of wood where it had been chipped away.

 

The Hornbacks hired someone familiar with the white ash panels to work on them.

 

The Hodgenville business is restoring two similar Woodies, but those are convertibles.

 

To see more pictures of the car, visit http://shoebox-shop.com.

 

John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746.