News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 30, 2013

Dream car gets new life; owner gets surprise

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Even though his car hadn’t run for several years, Brian Shober still had emotional attachment to it as sat outside his Terre Haute home, covered in moss and several seasons of fallen leaves.

His beloved grandmother, Genevieve Shober, had helped then-17-year-old Brian purchase the car. But only six weeks later, Genevieve had a heart attack and never came home.

Brian paid off and drove the car — a silver 1997 Pontiac TransAm — until it developed a transmission problem that he couldn’t afford to fix. And so it sat. For seven years.

“I didn’t want to get rid of it because it had been my dream car since I was little, and, my grandma helped me get it," Brian told the Tribune-Star.

Little did he know that a dream was about to come true.

Life went on, and Brian had a son, Carson, who also became attached to the car, even though it never went anywhere. Brian, now 28, and girlfriend, Samantha Brown, decided to settle down. They have a daughter, Aubrey, and have been saving up to buy a house.

Samantha knew that Brian had always wanted to get the car fixed, but just a few weeks ago, he finally came to the decision to sell the car, because it had sat for so long it probably wouldn’t run anyway.

That’s when Samantha jumped on the chance to get rid of it. Or so she told Brian.

Samantha called her friend, Rachel Marshall, the office manager at All Tran Transmission Service, which is owned by Rachel’s father, Brian Willig.

Samantha and Rachel, and Brian’s mother Darlinda Shober, worked out an arrangement where the car would be towed and evaluated to see if repairs were financially feasible. Once that was determined, Brian Willig and his crew made sure that the engine was good, and then they rebuilt the transmission.

“The budget was on the low side,” Willig said, “but we took it out to Ed’s Detail Shop and had them scrub it inside and out.”

They pulled out several years’ accumulation of leaves and debris. A broken door was repaired. The tires were inflated and a flat tire was fixed.

The car had been gone for only 11 days when Samantha talked Brian into driving down to All-Tran to pick up the check from the alleged sale of the car.

He wasn’t too happy about it, she said, because he thought the $500 sale price was too low.

As Samantha, Brian, Darlinda, Carson and Aubrey walked up to the All-Tran office on Friday, a mechanic backed the TransAm out of a bay, into the parking lot, where Brian just stood and looked at it as if he couldn’t believe it.

“He’s usually a mellow guy,” Darlinda said, “but he’s been a bear since that car’s been gone.”

It took him a moment to realize the gift that was being presented to him, but then he was all smiles.

Willig detailed the repairs made to the car and made a few recommendations.

“I’ll continue to fix it up now,” Shober said.

His children, 8-year-old Carson, and 14-month-old Aubrey, had a good time crawling through their daddy’s new/old car.

“I love it,” Carson said.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @Trib