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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

This 14-Year-Old Girl Will Build Her Own Car In Time For Her 16th Birthday, Thankyouverymuch

Meet Kathryn! Her last name is unknown because she’s generally only known on Pennock’s Fiero Forum as user Michhiker’s daughter. The family lives in Michigan, Mount Pleasant to be exact, and since the age of 12, Kathryn has shown a strong interest in cars. Well, a strong interest in buying and restoring her own Pontiac Fiero. By herself. Yeah, Kathryn isn’t interested in having Mommy and Daddy buy her a car for her 16th birthday — she’s going to go ahead and build one. Oh, kids and their crazy hobbies!

About two years ago, Kathryn — who is now 14 — approached her parents and asked them if she could use her babysitting money for a little project she wanted to undertake. That would be the car restoration. Not only did she have this idea planned out and prepared for a discussion with her parents, she had a nine-point argument, which her father shared on the forum:

1. She would like to buy a Fiero because she saw one at a show and thinks they are cool (we are Corvette people, so she has been around a few shows). Fair enough I like GM products and remember the Fiero fondly from my youth.
2. She makes the arguement that it gets reasonably good gas milage
3. It is relatively inexpensive, so she would be able to afford it.
4. She could completely restore it in the 4 years until she turns 16
5. She would learn about how cars work, it would be a cheap education for the money
6. She would only have the capacity to take one friend along with her, so there would be less distraction
7. She wants a manual so she would learn how to drive stick
8. When it is done it would be a cool historic sports car
9. She would pay for it all herself.

After two years of work, with minimal help from her father and uncle, the car has started to resemble an actual, drivable car! Jalopnik has also been tracking her progress via the Fiero forum, and they report that Kathryn went from “simple sanding and spray painting to sand blasting, welding, upholstery work and everything else she needs to do to make her car the coolest one in the high school lot in a couple of years.” And can you even imagine the bragging rights she’ll have when it’s all done?

“Nice car. Gift from the ‘rents?”
“No, I built it. I built that car.”

Kathryn eventually started posting on the forum herself and revealed that indeed, it wasn’t the easiest project to start. Like welding, which she described as “terrifying” because of the whole “metal and sparks” thing (my quote, not hers). Though remember, she’s still in school, partaking in other activities in addition to building her Fiero, and that raises the ire of some people with less things to do with their time.

However, the response to Kathryn’s project has been immensely positive, with many people wishing their own teenagers had the same focus and motivation. While some lament that their own children have no interest in cars (this is a car forum, so these folks are bigger fans of cars than most people who just like to drive them from points A to B), some just wish their kids would do something, anything, amounting to the effort that Kathryn has been pursuing for two years now. (She even skipped soccer this spring to work on her car. I have a feeling she’ll be back.)

Now, people are even turning to Kathryn for car advice, something she finds pretty amazing:

“Okay this is new, people coming to ME for car stuff. Interesting, but I’ll give it my best shot … Thank you everyone for being so patient with me so just spread the word that I AM BACK!!! But literally I’m glad to be working on my car again, I’ve missed my baby (when I refer to my baby it’s my Fiero! Just to let you know).

Naturally, her father is beyond proud of his daughter and he’s quick to express it on the forum. Probably one reason Kathryn doesn’t visit the forum all that much. (“Oh, Dad…”)

So, now we’ll all sit back, evaluate what we’re all doing with our own spare time these days … and then feel dramatically unaccomplished. But congratulations, Kathryn! Keep up the good work!

(via Jalopnik)


  • John Wao

    Well she lives in the right place to be a gear head, Michigan.

  • Anonymous

    She should start a Kickstarter account! Seriously building a car to condition isn’t easy and babysitting money can’t 100% cut it. I would totally give $ to her!

  • Bexley Lister

    This is awesome.  A co-worker of mine did a similar thing w/ his four sons – when each kid turned 12 or 13 they’d get a “junker with promise” and he’d work with them to restore the car to a safe, drivable state.  By the time they could drive it they’d know every system inside & out – and be more responsible car owners than many of their peers.  I’m proud to say my old VW had a whole second life as a surfer dude’s car…

  • Ian Osmond

    That’s a really good point.  Think someone in Detroit will hire her as an engineer/designer if she keeps her grades up and gets the theoretical background to go with the practical?

  • S

    see you in 4 years ;)

  • Pedro

    She knows how to shift a stick. Haha I’m going to jail now.

  • Jordan

    almost like what I did. I took on a messed-up truck and learned it inside and out and love what I’ve accomplished  with it, even though it still has lots of bondo and leaks.

  • Kenny Zaborny

    This is an awesome story. I’m happy to see the younger generation is still restoring cars they like.  I’ve got a classic Mustang and a Delorean so I know the writer is right about the bragging rights. There’s nothing like to being able to point to a car and say “I rebuilt that.” One day my 8 year Nova project will come to an end and I’ll finally be able to say “I built that.”

    She will be a lot better driver on top of everything. Too many young people just take their cars for granted and wreck them. She’s got her heart, soul, and probably blood (cars bite) in that car. She will be much more careful with it.  Good luck Kathryn, the Fiero will be awesome.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure they will find her. I did the same thing myself at 14. Spent two years rebuilding a 1929 Model A Ford. By the time I left high school and college was employed by General Motors from which I have now retired. It did help that I also live in Michigan. It just proves that there are still good kids out there. She has a very good start in life. Keep up the good work.

  • Anonymous

    A lovely story; women who know cars are rare, but we do exist :-)

    My technical abilities come from my Dad’s attitude of ‘you can have whatever you want, but you’re responsible for it; money, repairs and use’ … and while I’ve never completely rebuilt a car, I can happily pull, rebuild, and install a small block.

  • Anonymous

    That’s awesome… but…
    “Hide the hair” for safety!

  • Anna B

    Wow, that’s freaking awesome.  She’s freaking awesome.

    I laugh at the Parent Envy. While Kathryn’s dad has so much to be proud of (and he is! I totally would be too if she were my daughter), I think the other parents should start trying to learn to appreciate their kids’ own talents a bit more, whether or not it has to do with cars.

  • Ratt

    Go Kathryn Go ! Outstanding Job raising that kid Dad, my daughter just turned 11 so there is still time.