Women Who Turn Wrenches-Silvinas VW Garage-NJ Editorial Portrait Photographer

I met Silvina a few years ago and I instantly adored her. She has this infectious smile, is a great woman to talk about any topic to and overall is awesome. She was showing her VW Bus at our local car show here in Bordentown back in 2016. This is how long I’ve been working on getting this project off the ground for. I knew that she was one of the women I wanted for this, and I’m so happy that it’s worked out.

The day I photographed her, the weather was hot, humid, and sticky, and a huge thunderstorm was on the horizon. She was working on prepping a 1973 VW Super Beetle to be painted. Friends came by later to help out and offer advice. The car is going to be gorgeous once it’s done!

If you haven’t read my last post about Jen and her 1973 Dodge Charger SE 440, I’ve been working on getting this personal photo project about women mechanics, and I’ve decided to call it, Women Who Turn Wrenches.

“What I’m interested in is the women who own their vehicles and work on them as well. Or work at a shop, race, anything.  There are too many images of guys working on cars, and not enough showing women. Yeah, we’ve seen the pin-ups, and don’t get me wrong, I love that, however, it’s high time to show the world the beauty of real women, doing what they love. Basically, I want this to as a woman empowerment in what’s been a “Boys Club”.”

Everyone who agreed to this project I asked them to answer the same set of questions, here Silvina’s answers:
Why did you decide to be a part of this project?
I spoke with Deirdre during the Bordentown car show couple years back.
What drew you into cars?
I can’t pinpoint an exact instance, but my first car was a 67 beetle and then it progressed from there.
How did you learn how to work on cars?
 Books and Manuals
What is the most rewarding part of what you do with vehicles?
The most rewarding part is fixing something and it actually works! And also fixing things on the old cars and leaving them better than I found them.
How many hours do you spend in the garage or driveway working on your vehicle?
As much as I can, I would estimate about 10 hours a week.
How much money do you think you’ve spent? Loaded question I know.
oh, brother…..my garage alone was 25k, I have probably 5k in tools and 50k in cars and parts! ouch.
What would be your dream vehicle if money wasn’t an issue? Details, please! 
1964 VW bus-21 Window
Would you have your own garage as well? C’mon, the sky’s the limit here.
Absolutely! I would love to!
If you race cars, what’s your favorite and why did you choose it?
I’m not really into speed, I am more of a cruiser
If you have another type of full-time job, do you wish that you could do this full time instead?
I don’t know because I wouldn’t want to lose the excitement and urge to actually go out to the garage and work on something.
Are you good at fixing other things as well? Have you always tinkered?
Yes, I am very handy, I learned this from my dad. When I was little I used to take things apart just for fun and put them back together. Now there is nothing out there that I won’t do…from fixing my cars to redoing the bathrooms in my house.
What was your first “project” or “baby”? 
1967 Beetle- my first car. I would wash that thing and polish it every other day LOL from there I went onto fixing things that broke on the car and the rest is history…
What was or is your most favorite car that you’ve owned? Mine was my 2001 Volvo V70 T5, she roared and purred….the photo below was taken on the day she died.
1978 VW Bus, I still own him.

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IMG_3775WomenWhoTurnWrenches-SilvnasVWGarage-byDeirdreRyanPhotography.jpg

Do you remember each car that you’ve ever owned like they were your “babies”? I still have a soft spot in my heart for my very first, an ’81 Olds Omega.
For sure, I name all my cars as well. They all have a special place in my heart.
Which do you prefer? 
Other: German cars are my favorite
Why?
I love German engineering. I actually went to Germany and visit the VW factory and museum. It was amazing!!!
Favorite brand of car? Fair warning: there are cars in here from all around the world, like the Ukraine, India, and Australia. I just added everything for the fun of it. To find out more on them here’s the link 
Volkswagen
How many cars do you own?
4
How many cars have you owned?
More than 10.
Do other members of your family work on cars too? 
No

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If no, do you work on your family and friends vehicles?
I help all my friends and family with their vehicles when time permits. They certainly call me with questions and I am always happy to help. I also rely on some of my friends who are more experienced and knowledgeable. This hobby is really a community of people that like to help each other (The old school VW community)
Is fixing your car or racing something you do with family or friends?
Yes, I have a lot of friends in the VW community. We do a lot of things together like cruising, camping, work on cars and car shows.
Do you see more women doing this now than before? If yes, why?
No, there is still very few girls out there who work on their cars.
Years ago, high schools offered auto mechanic classes, home ec, and other trades and now they don’t. Why do you think they don’t and do you think they should still offer them instead of going to a separate vo-tech school?
Totally, I took Home ec and shop class. We didn’t have an auto mechanic in Bordentown back in the 90s but I would have totally taken that! I think its imperative for young people to learn basic life skills that these classes offered. It is really a shame that they don’t anymore.

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Are there any nicknames for women who fix cars? How does it differ from the nicknames for guys?
Not that I know of….people sometimes ask me “do you wrench?” but that about it.
Are there nicknames for women who race cars? How does it differ from the nicknames for guys?
Being a woman who loves cars and knows how to work on them, do you find that you have any problems with the “boys” at first or even now? Like when you go car shopping, if a guy is helping you do you see any differences in how you’re treated when you start telling them more facts about vehicles than they were expecting? When test driving?
I haven’t had any “problems” per say but I do surprise some of the boys with my knowledge. Most of my friends who I work on cars with are “boys” so we are cool! We learn from each other.
Do guys respect you in your field? If yes explain? If no, why not?
Sure! The people that I surround myself with are all positive and respectful people. I guess this is because it is a hobby and not a job. I get to choose 🙂

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Do you prefer older classic cars or the newer ones out today? Can you explain?
The older the better. I love how simple cars were back then. We are getting to the point where we may not even have to “Drive” our cars anymore, that is just too much.
My favorite cars since I was in grade school was the 1954 silver Mercedes Benz Gull Wing with red leather interior and the Duesenbergs from the 1920s. Are there any vehicles that still stand out in your mind from when you were a kid?
My dads’ car when I was little and we lived in Argentina. 1975 Citroen 2CV. It was so ugly it was cute!

IMG_3908WomenWhoTurnWrenches-SilvnasVWGarage-byDeirdreRyanPhotography.jpg
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Why do you think there aren’t as many women mechanics or race car drivers as men?
Because it is a very physical job, believe it or not, you need to lift parts, get under the car, crawl on the floor and much more. Also, you have to be willing to get dirty, not many girls like that.
Do you feel that as a woman, you feel very much more in control when you are able to work on your own vehicle? That there’s a satisfaction in knowing you are accomplishing what is typically a “guys job” or do you not feel that way at all?
Not really, gender roles were never a huge topic in my family. We all did what we liked, even if was outside social norms.
Last question, what would you tell young ladies and girls today who might be interested in a career that involved cars?
Its just nuts and bolts….go for it! Get dirty and don’t be afraid to fail.

Thanks again for letting me into your home and sharing not just your passion, but your family and love for photography.

Are you a woman who works on her own vehicle and is interested in being a part of my project? Contact me and let’s have some fun!

 

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