Teen Girl Rebuilds Car from Scratch

Teen Girl Rebuilds Car from Scratch


[Saw sounds] BOB EREKSON: She breaks the mold of what we
think of as what girls are interested in versus what guys are interested in. She’s an individual. KATHRYN DiMARIA: Welding, grinding, cutting,
sanding. I’d much rather wear grease than makeup. BOB EREKSON: Her mind works like an engineer. She wants to know why. JERRY DiMARIA: The project kind of took on
a life of its own. Now there’s literally thousands of people
watching to see what she succeeds at next. KATHRYN DiMARIA: My name’s Kathryn DiMaria. I’m 14-years-old, and I’m rebuilding a Pontiac
Fiero. [Music] JERRY DiMARIA: Alright, what are you working
on today? KATHRYN DiMARIA: We’re gonna do welding first. JERRY DiMARIA: Welding first. Okay! KATHRYN DiMARIA: My car that I’m building
is a Fiero ’86 GT. It’s gonna be all black and yellow interior,
and then the body’s gonna be gloss black with yellow racing stripes. My car’s gonna be fast and sporty and just
cool. [Music] JERRY DiMARIA: Michigan has a great car culture. Home of the Motor City. It’s a great place to be to work on a car. KATHRYN DiMARIA: I’m gonna be welding in the
back of my frame rail right now. I’m gonna do one inch stitches, so I’ll have
like an inch, no weld, and then an inch here. I got the idea to build my car the summer
before I turned 12. I’d been to one or two car shows with my dad
before, and so that’s where the idea sparked, Hey, maybe I could rebuild a car. [Sparking noise] CLAIRE DiMARIA: She said, “I want to redo
a car so that it’s done for my 16th birthday.” And it’s like, “Okay…” KATHRYN DiMARIA: I just knew that it wouldn’t
work unless I had good reasons. So I’m like, “Well, if I build a car than
I get experience. I’d be able to possibly look into future careers…” JERRY DiMARIA: She’s like, “I’m gonna pay
for it myself. It’ll be a car that only has two seats so
I won’t have a lot of friends to get in trouble with.” So we decided, okay, we’ll let her try it. [Saw sounds] [Music] COMMERCIAL: Fiero. A brilliant example of Pontiac innovation
in action. [Music] COMMERCIAL: Fiero. Only from Pontiac. KATHRYN DiMARIA: I picked the Pontiac Fiero
cause it’s pretty much all curves. There’s like no straight edges on it whatsoever. And it’s little, so I figure it will be easier
to build than like, rebuilding a huge semi truck or something. [Music] KATHRYN DiMARIA: The amount that I personally
spend on my car has probably been over $2,000 from babysitting and selling my welding art
online. JERRY DiMARIA: She’s put in probably close
to 1,000 hours of work, or maybe even more than that at this point. KATHRYN DiMARIA: All my friends are like,
“You should be putting on makeup. You should be prancing around with us all.” And I’m like, “I can’t, gotta work on my car.” They’re like, “Your car can wait.” And I’m like, “No, you can wait.” KATHRYN DiMARIA: It’s like in Twilight, Bella
has this really old truck. And everybody teases her about it, but she
loves it. Same principle. [Music] BOB EREKSON: One of the reasons why she’s
been able to, uh, keep her interest in this project is the fact that she continues to
learn, um, and to learn new skills. KATHRYN DiMARIA: What I’m holding in my hands
right now is my cam-shaft. It moves the lifters which moves the push
rod which moves the rockers, which pushes down on the springs, which moves the valves. So far the skills I’ve learned so far is welding,
grinding, cutting, sanding. I learned how to upholster things. How to change tires, how to change my fluids,
how to take apart an engine. I looked at different textbooks and things
and then I ask my dad and my uncle, “What do you know about this?” My goal for finishing the car is to have it
done on my 16th birthday cuz it’s kinda like, you’re 16, now you’re free. Right now I am about halfway through in both
time and in progress, so I think it can happen. JERRY DiMARIA: Anything you gotta fill, you
gotta sand more? KATHRYN DiMARIA: What? JERRY DiMARIA: Sanding is the thing she hates
far and away. Everything else she gets excited to do. KATHRYN DiMARIA: Someone at some point took
a rattle can and pretty much spray painted it black, so I have to sand all the way through
all those layers and then repaint it. BOB EREKSON: The big trick is to keep that
thing moving. Don’t let it sit in one place ever. JERRY DiMARIA: Especially with black. KATHRYN DiMARIA: Yeah. It’s kind of like having to do laundry every
day. It’s just repetitive and there’s not much
of a point to it except that it has to get done. JERRY DiMARIA: I think that’s taught her intuitiveness
and commitment and then finally you see the end result. KATHRYN DiMARIA: The motivation for me is
being able to visualize what you need in the end because otherwise you just see details. You need to be able to see the big picture. I think the bolt’s turning with it, dad. JERRY DiMARIA: Yup, it is. KATHRYN DiMARIA: It’s a lot of fun working
with my dad because we know how to joke but still get work done. JERRY DiMARIA: We’ve created a repoire that
we can talk about anything. I mean there’s things that she shares with
me that I think there’s no way I would have ever told my parents that. We’ve talked about money, we’ve talked about
how to plan to college, we’ve talked about boys and sex. And it’s just a safe space for her and I to
grow and learn and build together. KATHRYN DiMARIA: That’s an awesome weld. You should come see it. JERRY DiMARIA: Yeah, that looks nice kid. KATHRYN DiMARIA: I like that weld. JERRY DiMARIA: Good. [Music] JERRY DiMARIA: One of the things that’s probably
surprised me the most is how many people have taken an interest in her story and how quickly
it spread throughout the Internet. And it really kinda probably started off of
her forum. People started responding back. Y’know, I’ve got a spare “this” can I send
it to her? And then pretty soon we had a pile of things
that had been shipped to her for her project and they came from Canada, from all over the
U.S., from Australia, from there the project kinda took on a life of its own. AutoBild, they’re the largest automotive magazine
on the planet named Kathryn AutoBild’s 2012 Woman of the Year. KATHRYN DiMARIA: All the support has been
really encouraging because it just shows that I am making a difference and I can do this
and so when I’m stuck on something, then I’m like I’m not alone. I’ve got people out there to help. JERRY DiMARIA: She knows that there’s literally
thousands of people waiting to see what she succeeds at next so I think there’s some of
that in the back of her mind that I can’t let these people down. KATHRYN DiMARIA: I think people have been
so enthusiastic because it’s not necessarily something you see every day because my age
sets me apart from most people who work on them and also the fact that I’m a girl working
in what would be considered a guy’s field as much as that kinda annoys me really. It’s annoying that people ask me so what’s
it like being a girl doing this? It doesn’t really matter that I’m a girl doing
this, I mean I’m able to do it just as well as any other person. JERRY DiMARIA: Got it? KATHRYN DiMARIA: Yeah. I don’t think there are enough women working
in the engineering field. They think, oh, it’s a guy’s world, but I
hear these stories about women who are in it and they’ve brought so much to it. MICHELLE PICKERING: Hi Kathryn. Michelle Pickering. It’s great to meet you. KATHRYN DiMARIA: You too. MICHELLE PICKERING: What do you want to see
at the auto show, Kathryn? You can see the rest of Chevrolet, you can
see the Camero. KATHRYN DiMARIA: Let’s do the Camero. [Music] KATHRYN DiMARIA: I want to talk to them about
their role mostly. I want to see how much women can actually
bring to the automotive world. JEANNE POLAN: You see that neat duct feature
that we put into the bumper? JERRY DiMARIA: Did you guys put that in? JEANNE POLAN: We put that in! JERRY DiMARIA: You need to go over there and
then we’ll get a picture of the two of you by the bumper. KATHRYN DiMARIA: Oh there’s a handle. Look at that. There’s a handle! MICHELLE PICKERING: At 14, I never would have
accomplished half as much. – How old are you? KATHRYN DiMARIA: 14. – Wow. JEANNE POLAN: Kathryn is just so impressive
in terms of her knowledge and her way she handles herself. MICHELLE PICKERING: Her mind works like an
engineer. She wants to know why. KATHRYN DiMARIA: I’m trying to figure out
this timing change thing. What’s going on here. I want to see how challenging it is or how
different it is for women. JEANNE POLAN: When I first came in, many times
I was viewed as being a secretary. Today that’s different. There are many opportunities for women, although
we still don’t have an equal amount of women in the engineering fields as we do males. MICHELLE PICKERING: My concern is that as
a society, we may not be encouraging women to go into science technology, engineering,
or math even. Kathryn seems to have figured it out all by
herself. JEANNE POLAN: We want to keep in contact with
you and make sure that you’ve progressed the way you are. KATHRYN DiMARIA: I look forward to it. Thank you. JEANNE POLAN: Okay, good luck! [Music] JERRY DiMARIA: Clearly it’s going to be an
exciting day when she gets to drive the car out of the garage, but I think that she’s
going to be looking for what’s next because I think for her, and for me, it’s been that
whole learning process that’s been most important. KATHRYN DiMARIA: This car project has definitely
changed my outlook on what I want to do. I’ve really become interested in being an
mechanical engineer. After high school, I’d really like to go to
a big engineering school. There’s been a few places that have contacted
me and it’s been kind of cool to see them reaching out already. It’s important for me to be a role model with
this project because I want to be there to say, “Hey, look girls really can do this. You shouldn’t put them down. They want to try. Just give them the chance.” I think that people should have the chance
to chase after their dreams and help them come true. KATHRYN: La da da di da da. I don’t know what else to say so I’m just
gonna hum and make random noises. Good with you? Okay, good with me. – Fiero! Only from Pontiac! We build excitement! Pontiac!

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