Kids surprise Bloomington mom with new car

Johnathan Silver By Johnathan Silver

Aug. 9, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Updated Aug. 9, 2014 at 10:37 p.m.

Jennifer Heibel had been feeling nervous all week.

"I had to come up with a big, extravagant lie," the Victoria resident said.

Her victim: Mom. But don't worry. This story ends well for Heibel.

Mom, JoAnn Janis, of Bloomington, turns 57 Tuesday, but family and friends came together in Victoria on Thursday to celebrate her birthday at KB's BBQ, where that big, Aggie-maroon lie moved slowly from behind rows of parked cars.

As party-goers sang "Happy Birthday," a restored 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air emerged from the sea of vehicles and rolled right up to Janis, who at first seemed puzzled but laughed anyway.

"It's yours," attendees in on the surprise yelled.

Her expression hadn't changed just yet. But after inspecting her new ride and letting the news settle, she had something to say.

"I love it," she said. "What a freakin' shocker."

The shocker was about two years in the making. Heibel hatched a plan and brought in her siblings to restore the car because Janis had talked for years about how much she admires 1957 Chevys.

The number 57 has significance on a few levels. Janis was born in 1957, she turns 57, and her new car is from 1957.

The car comes restored with satin paint, old-school tires, original interior, new transmission and more. The car's cost was about $3,500. The siblings, with some support from Janis' husband, Dewayne, made restorations, which took between six and eight months and ended with about $12,000 being spent on the entire project.

"She's just always been a hard worker," Heibel said about her mother, who recently retired from the banking industry. Heibel hid the car at her business, South Texas Performance.

After the shocker, Janis looked at the car some more then got in and simulated a drive.

"Oh yeah," she laughed from the driver's seat. "Posing like I'm a pin-up or something."

Her husband gave her a kiss.

"Hey, it's all yours," he said.

Janis' son, Matthew Shelton, also helped with the restoration.

"She's my mom," he said. "I'd pretty much do anything for her. She'd do anything for us."

At first, Janis didn't think the new car was for her but a joke - and one that her children were rubbing in, she said. She added that she couldn't recall where the fascination came from.

"Don't ask me why," she said, "Just something about them."



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