When you read love stories it is usually between two people who have found their soul mate and they want to spend the rest of their lives together. But this story takes a different road – this story is about a woman and the love for a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air.
The story begins around the year 1980 when Zina Donoho-King started her life long journey of love and passion for this 1956 Chevrolet. But to help understand how all this transpired, we need to go back in time a few years. Zina’s father was a true Car Guy, with many classics, proudly showing them off to anyone who would admire them – but the one car affair that stole his heart was a 1963 Cadillac Convertible which took him 6 years to restore from the ground up.
Since he spent more time in the garage than with his wife, the entire family knew that in order to be a part of not only the restoration, but his life, they all chipped in to help make his passion and dreams become reality. If the family wasn’t holding a flashlight, lending a hand when needed, or just being there to offer any assistance with various tools, they were there for moral support and to share this time in their lives as a family.
Zina King, spent many hours in the garage watching her father work on cars, but her passion did not surface at that time. It wasn’t until she was around seventeen years old, when she came home one day after school and noticed a car in their yard that had a for sale sign in it. Being curious as to whose car this might be, she asked her dad about the car and why it was there,
Zina walked over to the car, gave it a once over and once she placed her hand on the fender, it was at that very moment that she knew, this car and she were meant to be together. Zina knew she needed to do whatever it took to own this car. The special part about this car was that her aunt had painted a mural of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the dash.
Her father informed Zina that the car belonged to her aunt and uncle; it had a fresh coat of paint on it because they were in the market to sell the car. Zina, being of driving age was somewhat in the market for a car, but never thought her first car would be a classic. So she asked her father what the asking price was, her dad then instructed her to call her uncle and work it out with him.
Zina made the call and her uncle stated that the price was $1,750 and if she wanted it, she could pay $400 a month until it was paid off. Not having a job, Zina set out to find employment so that she could take possession of this ’56 beauty.
She ended up going to school while holding down 3 jobs to make as much money as she could to pay off the car, which showed how determined Zina was. Trying to come up with $400 a month was no easy task, but she did her best to keep to the agreement. When the amount owed was down to the last $250, Zina was so tired from working so much that she wasn’t sure if she could finish earning the rest. Her father offered her some advice – to call her uncle and work it out with him. She had made it this far – too far to stop now.
Zina called her aunt and uncle to hopefully discuss a way to finish paying the balance due. Her aunt answered the phone and Zina began to explain payment options for the remaining balance. When her aunt discovered that her uncle was asking so much of their niece, things changed. Her aunt had a short talk with her uncle and he came on the phone to tell Zina, you can pick up the car and pay us the remainder whenever you can. Isn’t it funny how wives have a way of fixing things?
Zina was so excited – her heart was pounding so hard you could almost hear it. She couldn’t wait to drive her car for the very first time, and once behind the wheel, Zina was like a little kid in a candy store, enjoying every minute.
Zina was lucky that during her younger years, watching her father work on his classics, she picked up a few things about working on cars, so she wasted no time in advancing that knowledge. Zina enrolled in Auto Shop at school and became quite knowledgeable in auto mechanics.
In the next few years, Zina’s love for the ’56 did not falter, but what did happen was she met her husband, married, and in 1986 was due to have her first child. Needing some cash they decided to sell the ’56. As heart breaking as it was, she knew it was the right thing to do at the time. Zina sold it to a gentleman from Nevada, who was in the process of moving to Oregon.
As time passed, Zina never forgot the love she had for the ’56 she once owned and the strong desire to own another one grew more intense every day. So in 2008 Zina was on the hunt to find another ’56 just like the one she had owned as a teenager. She jumped onto Craigslist hoping to find one for sale. Much to her surprise, there was one for sale in Washoe Valley, almost the same area where she sold it originally back in 1986. As Zina viewed the photos of the car for sale, she noticed a slight glimpse of the dash. In her heart she knew that this car was her original car that she sold over 23 years earlier. Her heart pounding once again, she wondered, could this be, could this be my car?
Not wasting any time, Zina called the number and spoke to a very nice elderly man who informed her that the car was for sale and the asking price was $7,000. Zina felt she had to look at it immediately, because if it was her car, she could not let anyone else take it from her. She grabbed her keys and flew out of the house so fast that she was almost in tears. Zina called her husband to tell him the news and his advice to her was, don’t let them know how bad you want the car or the price might go up.
When Zina arrived at the seller’s home, the elderly man took her to the back property, and as she rounded the corner, her heart soared and she felt this was the car. But still not completely convinced, she opened up the driver’s door and took one glance at the dash, and yes, this was her aunt’s old car, because the mural was still there, a bit dirtier, but in good shape. Zina began to cry and the elderly gentleman said, “What, you don’t like the car?” It was at the very moment that Zina began to tell this nice man her story of the car.
Being a kind hearted person himself, he offered to give Zina the car, but she knew that would not be fair. He was not only selling the car, but the house as well, since he was getting up in years and needed to liquidate. After working things out with the elderly gentleman’s son, Zina paid the asking price and called a tow truck to get the classic home.
On the back of the tow truck, the car headed home to Carson City. Zina called her daughter to look out her employer’s window and check out the tow truck about to drive by. Her daughter gave a huge thumbs up with a big smile on her face and was so happy to know that her mother’s heart was whole again. As they drove into the driveway, Zina was at ease knowing that the classic love of her life was finally home. She vowed to never let her go again. The journey for this car after leaving Zina in 1986 was long, put it came full circle to make it home to the one who truly loved her.
Zina’s father passed away in 2011, but he knew that his love for classic cars will live on through his daughter. His memory will never fade as long as Zina owns this beauty. Her father put together photos of the car and took the song that Zina rewrote of ‘Where the Boys Are’ and named it ‘Where the Cars Are,’ showing the love she has for this ’56 Chevy. This car found a way to make it back home again where it truly belonged. A classic love affair reunited. Zina’s mother, after the death of her husband, lost everything in a massive fire in September of 2013, including the 1963 Cadillac he loved dearly. The only thing left was the ignition key. So Zina’s husband had a locket made. Engraved on it was ‘You and Me and Your ’56 Chevy,’ and attached to it was the surviving key to her father’s Cadillac, which she proudly wears. The following video was put together for her by her late father. The lyrics were re written and sung by Zina King.
Zina shows off her love, and her husband completely supports her, knowing how very much this car means to her. So if you happen to see this car at car shows, be sure to say hello. It is not restored, but it is a gem.