The feeling of nostalgia that comes with childhood memories is one of the most wonderful things about adult life. Little snippets of observation – a fragrance that an elder relative used to wear, the taste of grandma’s signature holiday dish, or the look of a classic car that went out of production decades ago – anything that reminds us of our childhood and brings us back to those times, even for a second, are things to be treasured.
For one woman who had spent her entire life dreaming of owning a car that engendered a sense of happiness, hope was all but lost to ever obtain it…
A Different Type Of Girl
When Jeanie was a little growing up in the iconic era of the sixties, she was different than the other girls her age. Most young girls in that decade often dreamed of growing up to marry their knight in shining armor. Most of Jeanie’s friends passed time by playing with their perfect Barbie dolls, stroking the doll’s hair, and wishing to be more like their dolls. On the contrary, Jeanie had her eyes set on something completely out of the ordinary…
Love At First Sight
In 1964, when Jeanie was barely in the fifth grade, one unexpected experience left her completely speechless. Jeanie took a drive in a Chevrolet Nova for the first time. It had been love at first sight.
The Car Of Her Dreams
For those who aren’t interested in cars, this may seem a bit odd, but for Jeanie, it had been one of the most memorable moments in her life. During a time, where beautiful, shiny cars were the hottest commodity to attain, Jeanie could not hold back her excitement when she sat in the passenger seat of the red Chevrolet. But, the excitement would soon turn to tragedy.
The Perfect Evening For a Drive
While at camp in 1964, Jeanie was picked up earlier than expected by her friend’s mom and grandmother in the the Chevy Nova Convertible. It had been a remarkable moonlit evening, with the perfect amount of delicate wind brushing against her face, as she sat with a smile from ear to ear, Jeanie thought life couldn’t possible get better than this. With the top open in the shiny convertible, all eyes were on Jeanie as she drove away from the camp.
Happiness Turns Into Tragedy
Jeanie recalls, as they rode home, it had been an ominous tone considering the beauty of the evening. During the journey she fell in love with the car, but upon arriving home, she learned that her father had tragically died. But despite the potentially negative memories of that day, she always remembered the vehicle and would name it as her dream car.
It was not only the car that Jeanie had obsessed over, but what it had represented to her. This car had been a symbol of power and success. Jeanie decided that she would have to work hard, and harder then her male counterparts, to prove to herself and a male driven society that she could one day purchase what she had wanted more than anything else in life. But, sadly, life happens, things change, and even when we try our best, things can become unattainable.
A Car Or College
Even as she grew into a beautiful, vibrant young woman, Jeanie could never forget the car that made her heart melt. The car that was such a pivotal part of her childhood memories. But she soon realized her plan was not going to go accordingly since money had been tight. Jeanie had to save up for college, and her mother urged her it was not the right thing to do.
A Failed Plan
After all, during the sixties, women did not go out there buying cars. That was simply not the plan. Even if Jeanie wasn’t on board with the societal norms of the time, she knew her childhood dream was far fetched.
A Recurring Dream
Eventually, Jeanie got married and had kids. And did what every other women did at the time. She focused her life and energy on raising her kids and playing the trophy wife role that was expected of her. But, the Chevrolet Nova often played out in her dreams, as she sat carelessly in the driver’s seat of her shiny car, with Frank Sinatra singing in the background.
A Surprise In The Making
Decades had passed, and Jeanie’s children had become adults themselves. And now as a grandmother, the reality had soaked in that having her dream car as her own seemed foolish. She knew the Chevrolet had stop manufacturing the Nova for years, and now as a vintage car, the price would be threw the roof. But, little to Jeanie’s knowing, her husband and kids had a surprise up their sleeves.
Her son, Donny, without telling his mom a word, first purchased a beat up, barely usable Chevrolet Nova. He spent about $6,500 plus $1,500 to ship it to San Diego from South Carolina. It had been a big purchase for a car with little value and non working parts, but that didn’t matter.
The Ends Justifies The Means
According to Donny, “We admit we overpaid and only used the body, fenders, windshield and the door, everything, and I mean everything, else was garbage.” But, Donny didn’t care about paying extra. He was ambitious in his ultimate plan to recreate the closest replica of his mom’s dream car.
The Cost For Restoration
According to Donny, “We eventually stopped counting how much we spent, but I would guess it was around $30,000 mark, using a lot of used parts and restoring a lot by hand ourselves.” The project was funded by Nonni’s devoted husband Tony Pinto, who had spent years listening to his wife talk about her dream car. Tony knew this would be the ultimate surprise for the love of his life.
Years Of Hardwork
In total, they spent six years restoring it, which meant keeping the whole thing secret throughout multiple visits from his mother throughout the years. Donny added, “The car was in San Diego where I live and my parents live in LA so we had to move it each time she came to visit.”
Hide The Car!
Donny would hide the care anywhere he could find. At times, he would ask neighbors to use their garage, friends’ homes, and even rental trailers. Anywhere they could think of to stash it for a weekend until she left to keep it a secret.
But, at times, keeping the surprise secret from his mom proved to be more difficult than expected. When the car wasn’t moving due to missing engine parts, and when Donny’s dad wasn’t home, Jeanie would be the one to receive calls from Nova parts suppliers. Their cover could have been easily been blown, but thankfully, Jeanie, confused, would politely reply, “we don’t have a Nova.”
The Revealing Party
After six years of Donny, his friend Greg, and his father tirelessly working on the originally beat up, useless car were they finally able to create the most beautiful, shiny, now vintage Nova for Jeanie. The family arranged a big get together with family and friends on the day of the reveal. Donny spent all morning preparing the surprise by sending his mother cryptic text messages.
A Dream Came True
But the dream had become reality once her husband sent her a picture of Donny, standing next to her dream car. That is when they told Jeanie to to come outside. After decades of fantasizing about her dream car, the moment had finally arrived as she laid eyes of the restored Chevy Nova Convertible.
As Jeanie came outside, puzzled and a bit curious as to what was going on, she couldn’t help but notice that everyone around seemed to be in on the joke. But she quickly realized that there was no joke at all, and in fact it was the biggest and most thoughtful gift anyone could have given her: a restored, cherry red Chevrolet Nova, just like the one she fell in love with as a little girl.
Social Media Sensation
The entire ordeal was filmed by family members, as it shows Jeanie walking outside of the house and instantly breaking down into tears as she sees the bright red convertible rolling up the driveway. The video has been shared thousands of times on social media pages around the world as car enthusiasts and people who simply love a good heartfelt story watched Jeanie’s reaction to such a wonderful gesture by her loved ones.