This girl is on fire—female auto mechanic restores vintage truck, empowers women
By Anna Spiewak
Sarah “Bogi” Lateiner was not a tomboy, nor did anyone in her family work in the automotive industry.
She did, however, fall in love with her Volkswagen Beetle as a high school student growing up in northern New Jersey. But every time she brought her car in for service, she felt vulnerable—as many women and some men do—not knowing what’s going on and not understanding what she was being told. It made her feel like she had a target on her head. She also noticed the only time women showed up in car magazines in the mid-90s, they wore bikinis and high heels. Both experiences inspired her to take an auto shop class in high school and learn more about her car. Bogi even managed to convince her shop teacher to allow the class to do a partial restoration of her Beetle as part of a project for the year. And perhaps that was when her idea of car restoration was born.
“I’ve always been into puzzles, I love figuring things out,” Bogi told BASF in an interview. “I love that process of taking nothing and making it something—that’s a very satisfying process.”
Today, Bogi is the owner of an award-winning automotive shop (180 Degrees Automotive in Phoenix, AZ), an industry coach who travels around the country and a reality TV celebrity—she’s a co-host of “All Girls Garage” on Velocity. And now she can add one more thing to her resume: she is spearheading a nationwide restoration of a 1957 Chevy truck, dubbed the “Montage.” But don’t be fooled. What seems like a cool car restoration project on the surface is in fact a vehicle—figuratively and literally—to celebrate women in the automotive industry. This truck is being restored by all females.
BASF teamed up with Bogi on this project, providing not only paint, but also promotional support. In fact, BASF hosted a contest with Bogi to select a paint color for the vehicle. From March until April, fans had a chance to select one of three colors for the truck—dark teal, sky blue or dark purple. These colors were developed at the BASF Houston Competence center with Bogi. Fans were encouraged to submit ideas to name the colors as well, on Bogi’s facebook page, at Bogisgarage.
“The (BASF paint brand) R-M ONYX HD is a great fit for the Chevy Montage project as it is a highly flexible, ultra-productive system that dries fast and looks great while offering the ability to spray waterborne or solvent-borne (paint),” said Tina Nelles, Marketing Services Manager, Automotive Refinish Coatings North America, BASF. “This innovative refinishing system combines both waterborne and solvent-borne into a single line, sharing a common set of toners.”
The vintage truck built by Bogi and her all-female team, along with the selected color and name, were unveiled at BASF’s 2017 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) booth in Las Vegas on Nov. 1. SEMA is the largest automotive specialty products trade event in the world. The voters have spoken and the winning color was—Tenacious Teal.
"I was rooting for the dark purple, because I'm a purple girl, but this color is great too," said Bogi at the SEMA unveiling event.
The color purple, however, was subtly incorporated in the truck, on the calipers and the valve covers, she added.
“BASF really believes in education and bringing in the future generation, and that’s what this build is all about—celebrating the women in the industry and creating more opportunities for people to see careers for themselves in this field,” said Bogi. “Even before I saw how big of a vision it was, BASF was like ‘we’re in, how can we support you?’”
Women make up less than 2 percent of automotive technicians in the U.S. and only 25 percent of the automotive industry as a whole, according to Labor Statistics, Population Survey 2016. And yet, there are still many who are in the industry and are inspired by seeing similar role models in the field.
More than 90 women from all over the nation have traveled to Phoenix to help build the truck. Several of these women are experts, while others are beginners or DIYers excited to have an opportunity to explore the trades.
"It was a very big inspiration for me to be able to work with women of all different trades. I got to use my skills and learn some new ones," said Molly Gurski who owns a restoration shop with her husband in Wisconsin. Gurski worked on fabricating the floor and metal fabrication of Bogi's truck, while teaching restoration to those who were interested.
The project took place at Bogi's warehouse under the name “Bogi’s Garage.” The women have worked on the build since January. Most of them found out about her project through social media and her site (www.bogisgarage.com). But it's not over yet. Now that SEMA has happened, there are bigger plans in the works for this project.
Bogi intends to tour around the country with the truck and meet with women who’ve worked on it in their respective towns. The goal is to bring it to high schools and show other young women and men that there’s an alternative job field for them. There are also talks about a documentary once all’s said and done.
“You can tell a kid until you’re blue in the face that they can grow up and be anything they want to be—but until they see somebody like them doing it, they don’t quite believe it,” Bogi added. “Part of this build is to highlight and show off these amazing women, and to make them feel a little bit more normalized and celebrated for a change.”
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