Volvo and the Girl Gang Garage
By SUE MEAD
Special to Focus Daily News
It was a unique and exciting collection of partners that came together for the unveiling of the ‘Iron Maven’ at the 2022 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. There was Volvo Cars and celebrity custom car builder Sarah “Bogi” Lateiner. There was the marriage of a vintage 1961 Volvo PV544 and a modern-day Volvo S60 Recharge Polestar; a team of 165 women from the US and beyond; some support from technical experts at Volvo; and the mutual goal of all to publicize this all-female retro build to bring awareness to the need for more women in the auto industry.
“The Iron Maven”
The Iron Maven is the third “build” for Bogi, founder of Girl Gang Garage and the long-standing TV host of All Girls Garage and Garage Squad, who has influenced thousands of women since she began her career as a mechanic in 2016. Small in stature and an outsider to the automotive industry no so long ago, the 44-year-old who hails from Phoenix has attracted a big following after entering the auto industry as an outsider. When she first learned to drive, it was her experiences at repair shops that made her want to also learn how to fix her own car.
She attended Universal Technical Institute, trained at BMW’s factory training and worked as a dealer technician for 7 years. That led to a vision to develop her own auto repair shop where she could welcome and train women as technicians. She opened her first shop, 180 Degrees Automotive, in her driveway in 2006, before opening her namesake shop, which she has co-owned with friend and fellow auto-enthusiast and design technologist Swanda Williams. Since, Bogi has spoken to and trained thousands of women across the country and worked with 90 women on her first build, the Chevy Montage (’57 Chevy pickup), and 60 women on the High-Yellow ‘56 (1956 Chevy pickup) build.
Custom 3D-Printed Components
Bogi found the 1961 PV544 on a bee farm on the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ. The swoopy vintage model PV544 is considered “a combination of modest classicism and Volvo heritage” says Volvo. The Iron Maven was melded and updated with the technologically advanced elements from the S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sedan that sports a plug-in hybrid drivetrain – a Drive-E, four-cylinder gasoline engine paired to electric motors. Polestar is an electric performance car brand associated with Volvo vehicles that injects more power and torque into an engine through software and adds other parts, as well.
The compact luxury sedan came with a Polestar-engineered suspension, modern vehicle control systems, and a Sensus infotainment system. Among the modifications were custom 3D-printed components and by-hand fabrication with technical analyses to ensure the final product carried through a blend of classic, current and forward-looking elements and approaches.
Rebel Berry Purple
Bogi and her team of professional and amateur female mechanics, body technicians, painters and welders, alongside the group of talented female technicians in Volvo Cars’ network that are Hybrid-Certified worked the mojo to make a seamless meld of the modern, 415 horsepower plug-in hybrid with the classic design and body shell on top.
The Iron Maven was painted Rebel Berry Purple, a color that was selected through voting when Bogi created a contest to let others choose the color. The finished product was unveiled at the BASF booth of BASF, a company known for paints and lubricants and custom refinishing
“As we look toward the next decade, the automotive industry will see new technologies, embrace electrification, transform its approach to manufacturing and find innovative ways to connect with customers,” said Anders Gustafsson, Senior Vice President, Volvo Car Americas and President and CEO, Volvo Car USA.
“With these advancements, one of our biggest challenges will be developing a strong, diverse talent pipeline and an inclusive culture to support this transformation. Investing in programs that grow female and minority representation in automotive is critical to the future of our business at Volvo Cars, and the future of the automotive industry at large.”
Talented Women Working Together
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, only nine percent of automotive repair and maintenance positions are held by women, compared to the average gender split of 46 percent women employed in other industries.
“Both cars in their original form are so unique and each carry their own legacy, and the amount of skill required by our female technicians to combine these two Volvos into one as ‘Iron Maven’ was nothing short of incredible,” said Bogi. “There are so many incredibly talented women in the industry and there is strong interest when people are given an opportunity like this to learn. It has been wonderful to work with Volvo Cars to make this build not only a reality, but also a concrete example of what the power of women working together can make possible.”
Volvo Cars is also looking to increase the number of its female service technicians and is dedicated to increasing the number of female technicians within its retail network through accelerated training programs for current automotive technicians, recent graduates and military veterans. The company offers a series of development programs, scholarships, partnerships and more at training centers across the US. This includes a 50/50 Gender Neutral Leadership Commitment in recruitment and promotion to leadership positions, as well as a larger focus on supporting the company’s transition to a fully electrified lineup of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.
Girl Gang Garage Classes
Girl Gang Garage provides a range of year-round classes and events at their primary location in Phoenix along with a collection of virtual and offsite sessions for all skill levels. Volvo Cars and Girl Gang Garage programming as well as the Iron Maven project build also relate to technical, vocational and STEM learning at schools.
To learn more about the Iron Maven build construction, visit the Girl Gang Garage website and follow @bogisgarage and @girlganggarage on social.