Girl decides to restore a car in time for her 16th birthday

When, born hacker, [Kathryn] was 12, she approached her parents with an interesting proposition; she wanted to restore a Pontiac Fiero before her 16th birthday. So, using her babysitting money, parental guidance, and an enviable attitude, she has set out to do just that. The build log linked above is  incomplete as she has not yet reached 16, but is a very good read. Lots of build logs gloss over some of the more basic steps because they’ve done this a time or two. It’s fun to learn along with [Kathryn] as she and her dad work all the way from upholstery and painting to grinding and welding wheel wells.  It seems this project has acquired quite a fan base over the past few months, us included, and even a 3M sponsorship. We look forward to seeing what [Kathryn] does next. It looks like some engine work, along with a lot more welding.

Didn’t [Jeri Ellsworth] have a history of building cars too?

35 thoughts on “Girl decides to restore a car in time for her 16th birthday

  1. Cool, I did the same thing with a car half as cool. I took two escourts I got for pennies. One had a bad engine , ones entire electrical harness was melted/shorted and it had a bad trans / clutch. 3 or 4 months later I had built an engine hoist in my garage, tore both down built one working chasi , one working engine , and one working trans / clutch. I think I was 13 when finished. Only thing I would do differently is not put so much work into a turd. She picked a nice car to do.

  2. I once owned 2 of those cars. They are quite fun to drive.
    While it’s impressive that a young girl is restoring her own car, the insurance company is probably going to put the kabosh on things.

    1. How so?

      The inspection they do is always, in my experience, cursory. As long as it’s not falling apart, you should be fine.

    2. How so? If insurance companies suddenly no longer insure restored cars, that would certainly be news to me.

      (BTW, HAD editors, those “Report comment” links are just a little too easy to click by accident when you’re looking for the “Reply” link instead. I’ve done it twice now.)

      1. I don’t think they’ll have a problem with the restoration. The problem I see is the insurance companies charge you an arm and a leg (specially if young,) as they consider them “coffins on wheels” (quote from a friend who worked as an insurance agent.) He discouraged me from buying one back in the day (I’m glad he did!) he showed me how much it would cost me (good enough!)

      2. “(BTW, HAD editors, those “Report comment” links are just a little too easy to click by accident when you’re looking for the “Reply” link instead. I’ve done it twice now.)”

        same here…

      3. It is no more expensive for a Fiero than any other car. My 18yo brother was insured in one for less than $80 a month. My sister was even less when she had it.

        They aren’t the safest car though.

  3. I think if I was a girl on Hackaday, my profile name would be something like “Bill” or “Fred” just to keep random “dude”s like that away.

    1. I agree. Earlier I replied in a almost but not quite polite fashion to someone with a sexist comment. It has been removed.

      Last night I had a rare occasion to play tf2 and someone on the server was a woman. I said ‘So what.’ I wish other people in nerdy circles had a similar view.

      1. your comment was only removed because it quoted him, thereby keeping that content on the site. sorry. Good news though, the report system is working. the offending comment was removed via public reports before I got to it!

        1. care to make it do I don’t have to report a comment to make the reply button appear on the mobile version of the site? (I have an iPhone, not sure if it’s the same on other devices) I’m not overly fussed, but I’m sure it’d reduce the number of false positives you get!

  4. That’s pretty awesome!

    @Doktor Jeep

    That’s what inspections are for, yes? I’m sure the insurance company doesn’t care who restored it if it passes inspection. In any case, it SHOULD be illegal for auto insurance companies to charge rates dependent on actual data. If you are legally able to drive, your rate should start out somewhere and decrease if you drive safely.

    1. We have these “reply” links now. If you use them, your reply threads under the original comment you’re replying to. No need for this @ business anymore.

      1. of course, if you reply to more than one comment, it requires an elaborate kabuki dance to avoid losing your comment in some sort of mysterious comment-system worm hole.

  5. Let’s not forget her dad, who seems to be providing a good bit of encouragement and support (just like a dad should). She’s a lucky girl in many ways, and off to a great start!

  6. Now she’s doing something nice of her time. To make something that once was broken work again is one of the most amazing things one can do.

  7. What does the gender have to do with this post to warrant making it part of the title? Why does the fact she is female make this more newsworthy?

    1. Because girls are often pushed away from this sort of thing, so encouraging it and making it “cool” are great things to do? Also, English isn’t terribly well set up for gender neutrality…

  8. What?!?!? She gets a post for that? I did the same thing with my 1969 Chevy Camaro SS! 6 years worth of weekends later I have the coolest car around haha.

  9. Yes, Jeri’s talked about having built race cars, and growing up with much less family support than [Kathryn] is getting, and about having to put up with a lot of crap for being a girl driving race cars (apparently boys can pick up cooties if a girl drives by them too fast – who knew? Though she got less crap once she was actually building the cars.)

  10. Dear gods, I just finished reading all 18 pages of that thread (I will grant you I stopped to pet the cat, eat food, go to the market, and such), that is amazing. That lass shall go quite far in what ever direction she chooses to go.

    Even though I’m a biker (I choose not to have a car at all), reading that thread makes me want another fiero, one of two vehicles I sometimes miss. I suspect I will wind up following that thread, worse I may wind up with a fiero, by the end of it all.

  11. This is a better and practical way to spend days leading to your birthday. At least, she gets there are that she wants and she was to bond with her father while doing the car. Very nice.

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