My interest and passion for cars started when I was about six years old with my mom’s restoration project. She had a 1973 Pontiac GTO that still lives in her garage. My step dad rebuilt the engine for it and my job was to clean parts in a gasoline-filled porcelain bin while he worked on it. It was a blast climbing about and exploring all the cars he had lined up in his goat-barn-turned-garage. There were so many cars to explore and so many different and strange parts to wonder about, I could not get enough! My mom tells many stories about my ruining perfectly pink dresses with grease stains. Dresses are still not my preferred outfit and I still think pink clothing looks better stained with grease.
Aside from cleaning parts and imagining my own joy rides in the barn, another one of my favorite adventures was going to swap meets to find parts. My step dad drove a large box van with only two seats. Since there was typically another adult with him, I got to ride on the giant tractor tire between them. The ride to the swap meet was only half of it! There was something so captivating about cars that always drew me in. I loved the smell of old grease parts, gasoline and the mystery of figuring out what was what. To top it off, there was the rush of challenging (and beating) grown men in drag racing light tree simulation contests that were always part of the swap meets and car shows. As expected, my love for classic cars only grew as I got older.
At 19, I purchased my first project car–a 1967 Pontiac GTO convertible that I bought from a man in Texas. That May, my step dad and I took the long road trip from Ohio in his old Dodge truck with no AC and vinyl seats. It was the longest, most uncomfortable ride of my life and it was a memory I wouldn’t trade for anything! Working on the GTO was my first “apprenticeship” into classic car restoration. I spent hours researching the GTO and worked on it faithfully alongside my step dad for 4 years. In that time, we had rebuilt the engine—not a 400, but an original 455 I chose for more power and speed—rebuilt the transmission, sandblasted and primed the body, and completed a full frame-off restoration. It was no longer the rust bucket full of dry grass we found when we dragged it off that empty field in Texas. The only thing left was to drop the engine and the transmission into the chassis. Sadly, I chose to sell it. A decision I regret to this day. Someday I will find that car again!
I shelved my passion for muscle car restoration for a few years while I was busy “adulting” until almost a decade later when I decided to spark it up again. I purchased a 1959 Triumph Roadster that was pretty sound mechanically with the intent of restoring the interior myself. After about 2 years of having some minor mechanical upgrades done on it, I lost interest and shifted to a 1965 Ford Econoline Van. What excited me most about the van was that my partner, Monica, shared an interest for it and wanted to restore it alongside with me. We’ve had the van for a little over 2 years working on it little by little. Like with the GTO, both of us have spent countless hours researching about its parts and how to bring it back to life. So far, we’ve installed parts for the engine including the water pump and the radiator with a bracket we fabricated, the fuel pump, the distributor, spark plugs and wires, and we upgraded the alternator. We also rebuilt and installed a different carburetor. We got her running, but there’s still lots to work on to get her moving. My partner is Puerto Rican, so in honor of her culture, we named the van “Chinita” which means “little orange” in Spanish. You can check out that adventure on Facebook at @1965Chinita
As you can see, my passion for cars has never died. I have often wondered where I would be today if I would have been encouraged to pursue roles in the racing and automotive industries even though I was a girl. There was a point in my life when my step dad and I talked about me drag racing, but my mom was not a big fan of the idea and would not allow it. ‘Til this day, I’m not sure why. My hopes for Femcanic Garage are that it will inspire women, young ladies, and girls to pursue the wrenching and racing trade on any level they wish. Even if they never get their hands dirty, I want to spark their curiosity and give them full permission to explore the automotive industry without the apprehension of “girls don’t do that”. I also want to reinforce through Femcanic Garage that just like Danica Patrick and the ladies on the TV show “All Girls Garage”, you don’t have to give up your lipstick if you like cars.