Jimmy Shine Builds on Southern California Hot Rod Tradition
Jimmy Shine’s love of fast cars and welding started at a young age. Growing up in Orange County, California, Shine recalls drawing pictures of hot rods and going to drag races and speed shops with his dad Denny, who was into bike racing, drag racing and off-roading. In the years since, Shine has combined his passions of welding and fast vehicles to build a reputation as a talented fabricator and hot rodder. He’s built million-dollar cars and he was part of a team that set a land speed record in 2006 at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Read on to see how he uses Miller equipment to get the job done.
Jimmy Shine’s love of fast cars and welding started at a young age. Growing up in Orange County, California, Shine recalls drawing pictures of hot rods and going to drag races and speed shops with his dad Denny, who was into bike racing, drag racing and off-roading.
“I think I was just born with something in my DNA,” Shine says. “It’s just something that’s always sparked my imagination. The mechanics of things and how things work have always fascinated me.”
His relationship with welding has a similar backstory. Shine’s dad taught him to arc weld at 8 or 9 years old, and Shine built his own BMX bicycle frame when he was just 12. When Shine was 13, he started working as the “shop kid” for a local sheet metal company, where he emptied trash, swept floors and did odd jobs around the shop. It was there that he was introduced to TIG welding — and to Miller® welding equipment — thanks to a welder at the shop who stayed after work to teach him.
“I remember that very first introduction to TIG welding at 13 years old, with a Miller TIG,” Shine says. “Learning to weld was probably like an awakening moment for me. When I was first able to weld something — stick pieces of metal together and not have it break — that’s just a triumphant moment.”
In the years since, Shine has combined his passions of welding and fast vehicles to build a reputation as a talented fabricator and hot rodder. He’s built million-dollar cars and he was part of a team that set a land speed record in 2006 at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
“Being able to weld really opened many doors for me,” Shine says. “I love that ability to take an idea and actually make it something tangible.”
A new chapter
After spending 19 years with the famed SO-CAL Speed Shop in Pomona, Shine opened his own shop with the blessing of his former boss Pete Chapouris. Shine felt it was a natural progression in his career and the right time to strike out on his own.
“We accomplished so much,” Shine says. “I got to work with some of the greatest minds and visionaries in this industry. It’s a really neat fraternity to be a part of.”
In building his own business, Shine wanted to maintain that heritage and focus on the traditional hotrods that have always drawn him in — the 1920s-, 30s- and 40s-era cars inspired by Southern California. The Jimmy Shine Work Shop in Orange, California, is a custom fab shop that focuses on the quality and pure form of those classic vehicles from when “car culture” first began to take shape.
“When guys started hopping things up, getting more horsepower and racing, a lot of that really came from the valley and Southern California,” Shine says. “That’s what makes my brain tick.”
Shine continues to use Miller welders and protection in his own shop, including the Millermatic® 211 for MIG welding and the Syncrowave® 210 for TIG welding.
Full speed ahead
Among the projects Shine has in the works is a reality TV show collaboration called Rockin’ Roadsters with ZZ Top front man Billy Gibbons, a longtime friend who shares Shine’s love of classic cars. They aim to entertain and educate with their show. In the first episode, which aired on the Discovery Channel, the two rebuilt a 1984 El Camino in a funky custom lowrider style.
“It looks like an Easter basket crossed with a fishing lure and a bass boat,” Shine says. “It’s all sparkle and just a lot of fun.”
Another current project for Shine’s shop is a custom rebuild of a 1964 Oldsmobile Jetstar 1 to raise money for wounded U.S. veterans. The build is underwritten by John Beck from Progressive Building Services in Michigan. In addition, Shine’s friend and automotive designer Chip Foose has volunteered his services to the project. Shine and Foose have long talked about doing a project together, so to work together on such a unique build has been a great experience.
“It’s fun to have these ideas, and Chip actually being able to draw something that’s exactly what I’m thinking,” Shine says. “It’s a very unique car that we’re using as a canvas. There were only 16,000 of them ever made in 1964.”
They found a second-owner Jetstar with only 14,000 miles on the odometer and “original everything.” The “unsung muscle car” was likely Oldsmobile’s answer to the other performance cars of the era, including the Corvette, Mustang and T-Bird. The Jetstar came factory with bucket seats, hard top, console shift and a three-speed automatic 394 Olds motor with 10.5:1 compression.
“It was a hot little number,” Shine says. “We found it, and I fell in love with it. What a cool car.”
Planned changes during the build include a new chassis, the addition of an air ride system, four-wheel disc brakes and a new-style tubular front suspension.
“We really want to maintain the character and the charm of the car,” Shine says.
In addition to the fun backstory, Shine and Foose want to overhaul the beauty for a good cause. The details aren’t finalized, but they plan to conduct a lengthy promotional campaign or tour with the car and then auction or raffle it to raise money for wounded veterans.
“I think it’s important for us to pay back to those people who have given so much,” Shine says.
With so many high-profile projects in the works, Shine needs quality equipment to do a quality job. Ever since he was the kid who learned to TIG weld at 13, Shine has relied on equipment from Miller to help him get the job done.
“It doesn’t matter what we do, we want to do it best,” Shine says. “Miller is what I learned on, and it’s always been simple, reliable, easy to use and always provided me with a beautiful product. It doesn’t get any better.”