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Feiro Reborn
April 27, 2012 8:36 AM   Subscribe

Buying a car with babysitting money Kathryn, at age 12, decided that she wanted a Pontiac Fiero for her 16th birthday. After convincing her parents, she bought it and has been restoring it from the ground up, including upholstery, motor rebuilding, welding, and more.
posted by plinth (58 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
A Fiero hey? Make sure you have the appropriate music!
posted by Talez at 8:41 AM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


That's a pretty cool story. I started mowing yards at around that age and saved up all of the money and bought a 1978 Ford F150 when I was 15 for $1800. Oh how I miss that truck.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:42 AM on April 27, 2012


Seriously? My step-daughter is 13, and she has $7 in her allowance fund.

Just last night she said, "What kind of car are you going to buy me when I turn 16?"

Maybe there's like a trade-in program.
posted by kbanas at 8:43 AM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is awesome.
posted by 200burritos at 8:45 AM on April 27, 2012


She thought about it for a couple of minutes and said she was going to make them an offer. So Bob and I just stood back and let the kid go to work. They were asking $600 for it. Kathryn offered them $400 to start, and the guy said he would really like to get $500 for it. In the end we walked out with it for $450.

At age TWELVE. What an awesome fucking kid.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:46 AM on April 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


I hope it is okay that I reposting this photo.


http://cliff.hostkansas.com/images/2011/Whitefaces2_(Medium).JPG
posted by 200burritos at 8:47 AM on April 27, 2012


Oh, one more:


http://cliff.hostkansas.com/images/2011/cleaning_seatbelt_anchors_(Medium).JPG


Seeing a 12 year old girl stationed at a milling machine just really warms my heart.
posted by 200burritos at 8:49 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


BAD
ASSSSSSSSSS
posted by Greg Nog at 8:49 AM on April 27, 2012


Maybe there's like a trade-in program.

For the car or your daughter?
posted by Fizz at 8:50 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's awesome.
posted by gyc at 8:50 AM on April 27, 2012


When I was 13 or so a friend's dad sat a group of us down and explained the economic penalties of teenage car ownership by using his group of friends as examples. Those who owned cars from 16 on were substantially poorer than those who waited until their twenties. It was pretty striking.

Of course what I learned I turned 16 was that guys with cars had girlfriends 'automatically'.
posted by srboisvert at 8:50 AM on April 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


What a cool story. This is one of my favorite comments to Kathryn in the thread: "Finally, I would like to thank you, as my 13 year old daughter has expressed more of an interest in helping work on our vehicles to learn some of these skills for herself after reading through your build."
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:51 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


For the car or your daughter?

I'm not picky.
posted by kbanas at 8:51 AM on April 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


We are car people (a revolving door of "fun cars" over the past ten years that has included everything from a '66 Mustang to a '86 VW Cabriolet), and my older daughter is just starting to get to the age where she's talking about what kind of car she wants when she's 16.

We live in a city, so I tell her "You can have a bus pass and a lot of freedom at 14, or access to a car and virtually no freedom at all at 16".

But hey, maybe this is another way to go.
posted by padraigin at 8:53 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope she makes it look like this
When I was 13 or so a friend's dad sat a group of us down and explained the economic penalties of teenage car ownership by using his group of friends as examples. Those who owned cars from 16 on were substantially poorer than those who waited until their twenties. It was pretty striking.

Of course what I learned I turned 16 was that guys with cars had girlfriends 'automatically'.
Did they spend the money on the car, or on the girls?

In reality there was probably a causation/correlation problem here. Kids who waited would probably be more likely to be more patient, more responsible and less risk prone overall.
posted by delmoi at 8:54 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


What an awesome kid. I've got nothing to add but amazement.
posted by gauche at 8:54 AM on April 27, 2012


This girl is amazing and I in no way want to diminish her amazingness, but why a Fiero exactly? This is the car we are talking about, just to be clear. No accounting for taste, I guess.

Still, I hope she is able to see this job through to the end and she is to be commended for all she has done so far. Amazing stuff.
posted by Scientist at 8:56 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, I hate to be the wet blanket, but I wonder how much of this is really being driven (heh) by the 12-year-old? I mean, she sounds like the fantasy 12 year old that most of us would be if we went back in time with our current memories, which has my suspicion-meter pinging.
posted by Malor at 8:58 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seeing a 12 year old girl stationed at a milling machine just really warms my heart.

Agreed. It's been really fun having my 11 year old (son, but still) almost as excited about my recent metal lathe purchase as I am. (Classic South Bend!)

(But that's a drill press, not a milling machine. And she should have her hair tied back for safety.)
posted by DU at 8:59 AM on April 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well, other than wanting the Pontiac Fiasco, how very cool.

(Seriously -- they first shipped this car with *the wrong dipstick*. The car required 4.5qts of oil, the dipstick's full mark was at 3qts.)

If you upgrade the suspension and put something better than the Iron Duke in it, it could be a really fun car. That's probably why I hate it -- it's not what it was, it's what it could have been had Pontiac/GM bothered to care about it.
posted by eriko at 8:59 AM on April 27, 2012


Cool. My uncle bought a car at 14. His dad, the city attorney no less, told him to only drive it on the backroads.

This was a really long time ago....
posted by caddis at 8:59 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This girl is amazing and I in no way want to diminish her amazingness, but why a Fiero exactly?

Because 12 year old girls are the target demographic for Fieros.

This is awesome. I hope she grows up to be a shop teacher and shows more girls that they can get their hands dirty and build/make stuff, no matter how symmetrical their faces are.
posted by bondcliff at 9:02 AM on April 27, 2012 [17 favorites]


Scientist: but why a Fiero exactly?

Because Fieros are AWESOME. That's why.
posted by slogger at 9:02 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would feel a lot safer in a Fiero rebuilt by that girl than I would in a new one as built by Pontiac originally. It's a cool little two-seater but there are some fairly well known gotchas that can result in an engine compartment fire. A common failure mode if you run one with the oil too low is to break a rod, crack the case, and dump what oil there is left on the exhaust manifold. But nobody who has invested that much work in a car is going to let the oil get low (actually nobody who has invested that much work in a car is going to let a bug spot stay on the windscreen longer than it takes to pull over and wipe it off.) Also, the radiator (up front) is a looooong way from the engine (in the rear) and you can't just pop off the radiator cap and add coolant, there's a specific procedure to follow. But anybody who's that into their project car will know all about it.
posted by jfuller at 9:04 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously? My step-daughter is 13, and she has $7 in her allowance fund.

In contrast to my parent's philopsophy of teaching me the value of money by not giving me very much of it, I set my son's allowance fairly high with the proviso that some percentage of it must be put into a savings account.

He set a pretty aggressive percentage - half - and now has several thousand dollars as a nest egg. And now, because it's somewhat substantial, he's taken to adding in cash gifts, too.

He's been tempted to use it for various things over the years, but every time it comes time to draw from it, he changes his mind.

This girl is amazing and I in no way want to diminish her amazingness, but why a Fiero exactly?

I had a Fiero once - which is amusing because I am 6'4" - but it was a very fun car. Light, easy to drive and just a blast. Mine was the V6 with about 180 HP and a curb weight of like 2200 lbs. Total rocket. I miss that car.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:04 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's an article in her local paper with an updated image of her reupholstered seats.

I, too, was like "Why a Fiero?!" when I first saw it but after seeing what she did with the interior, I suspect it'll look pretty damn cool in the end.
posted by mathowie at 9:09 AM on April 27, 2012


You know, I hate to be the wet blanket, but I wonder how much of this is really being driven (heh) by the 12-year-old? I mean, she sounds like the fantasy 12 year old that most of us would be if we went back in time with our current memories, which has my suspicion-meter pinging.

A small percentage of kids just seem to have incredible drive and passion for unexpected things. There was an article in the New Yorker a couple of weeks ago about a 13-year old who has his room set up with stainless steel prep stations and induction burners and chefs a well-reviewed pop-up restaurant out of his house every month.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:09 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Mine was the V6 with about 180 HP and a curb weight of like 2200 lbs. Total rocket.

Yeah, I was reading the first few pages of that thread, where the dad said they were most interested in a V6. My first thought was, giving a two-seater V6 to a teenager is just asking for trouble.
posted by slogger at 9:11 AM on April 27, 2012


There's a lot of online help and information on the Fiero - it's pretty friendly and helpful, as online communities go. I had an '88 GT, white with T-Tops. I called it "DangerMouse." Beautiful driving car - very comfortable, even for a big guy on long trips, and you'd be surprised how much luggage you can cram into that "trunk." It's a very sleek looking vehicle, easily the prettiest American car of the era, and the only one that will still turn heads that isn't a GNX (which is a pretty ugly car that went really, really fast. )

That engine is just going to break her heart, tho... neither the 4 nor the 6 were paragons of reliability, even for the '80s. Mine had perpetual problems with cooling, and eventually blew a gasket, and sucked all of the oil into the cooling system. If I had it to do over again, I would have kept it and gone the V8-Archie engine transplant route.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:16 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


My first thought was, giving a two-seater V6 to a teenager is just asking for trouble.

To top it all off the Fiero had its engine mounted so far back it might as well be an RR. That kid better be taught well or she's going to spin off her first interstate onramp in the rain.
posted by Talez at 9:18 AM on April 27, 2012


kathryn: aw.. i'm not awesome and just a stubborn and determined girl that's doing something with her dad that's all

I'm going to have to disagree with her here.
posted by bonehead at 9:19 AM on April 27, 2012


Great story, and a reminder of how annoying I find it to sift through forums. I wish there was a separate website with just the update posts from Kathryn and her dad. Just my personal preference, though. That forum thread seems very supportive, which is nice.
posted by Secretariat at 9:25 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


As heart-warmingly awesome as this story is (if true, and it seems to be if the heart-expanding pics are an indication), it would have been better if it were a bitchin' Camero.

Someone get her a cassette. STAT.
posted by Mezentian at 9:32 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, I hate to be the wet blanket, but I wonder how much of this is really being driven (heh) by the 12-year-old?

If you go to the later pages of the forum post in the FPP link, she posts under her own name, asking lots of questions and interacting with the community there. Leaves little doubt in my mind that she's definitely the one driving this project.

Driving. Heh.
posted by slogger at 9:34 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]



If you look in the middle picture you will see the zip lock bags and the masking tape. As she disconnected wires and switches she labled the wire and the switch with the tape, and place the screws in an individual ziplock and labled that as well as to what they came from.....Man I love that girl!


Okay, I know adults who don't think to plan that far ahead. Well done.
posted by dubold at 9:56 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I went away to college my Dad arranged for me to buy a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado with teeth missing from the flywheel for $300. In the years that followed, I learned valuable lessons from that car, and spent many hours under the hood turning the engine over by hand while my dates/roommates/friends stood by. I paid for three starter drives but never could afford to replace the flywheel. I got to spend a lot of time sitting in a truly awesome vehicle if not actually driving it, do not fear cars and will never ever take a well-operating car for granted again. Thanks, Dad.

This girl will be light-years ahead of her peers. Unless she rips her scalp off operating drill presses with unrestrained long hair!!!!! (Sorry, those pics really freaked me out.)
posted by kinnakeet at 10:25 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


She mentions somewhere in there about putting "Lambo" doors on it. That car is going to be sweeeeet!
posted by cazoo at 10:43 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


My first car was a 2-door 1978 Caprice Classic. In 1990. It had the wrap-around back windshield.
It was a boat, but it was loaded with all the extras and in mint condition. Backseat was like a couch and it had a Mafia trunk. The dash clock was still analog and I loved that even when I was driving it, I could hear the clock tick.

I bought this car with MY babysitting money and paid for insurance and gas as well. But most importantly, this is when I learned about the Chilton manuals and like Kathryn, I wanted to know EVERYTHING about my car so if something goes wrong, I could fix it myself.

Kathryn is real. I totally got sucked into that thread. GREAT POST!
posted by TangerineGurl at 10:49 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've read many of the author's posts on that site, and it looks like the girl does most of the work herself, and gets help from her parents and uncle when she needs it. We see her at the sandblast booth, she uses the old whatever as a template to make a new whatever. her favorite tool is the wire wheel.

And why a Fiero of all things? She's 14 now, and restoring a car as best she can. It could be a '78 Ford Nothing, and the story would still be cool.

My first car had a straight-6. But fortunately, it was a 66 Mustang that spent as much time alive as dead, which diminished the liklihood that I would kill myself driving it.
posted by dfm500 at 10:57 AM on April 27, 2012


This is pretty cool, but I have to say I was a little disappointed when I realized that it wasn't a guide to buying cars with your host, a monkey who babysits.
posted by nímwunnan at 11:16 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kid's gonna rule with that ride.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:33 PM on April 27, 2012


The thing about teenagers is that they if they put their mind to it, they can do anything. Mostly, of course, they're too distracted and doomy (I was), and sometimes the things they want to do are very, very bad ideas ... but otherwise, it's really the perfect age for absorbing ridiculous amounts of information about a subject and pouring ridiculous amounts of time into mastering it.
posted by feckless at 12:37 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


More power to her. I liked the Fiero when it first came out, so I can totally see where she's coming from with that.

My first car was a 1962 Buick Electra 225. It got 8 miles to the gallon and required a quart of reclaimed oil at every stop-light. But it was my freedom. I could put all the cheerleaders and the mascot in it and we could go do what we needed to do. It was a total land-yacht.

I do question the wisdom of a kid with a very small, poorly balanced vehicle (my mom liked her some Corvairs.) I hate to tell you what terrible things happened to that car (and IN that car) when I was a teenager.

Remember the scene in the Blues Brothers, where they finally get to the Cook County Assessor's Office? Yeah. That happened.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:53 PM on April 27, 2012


(But that's a drill press, not a milling machine. And she should have her hair tied back for safety.)
posted by DU at 8:59 AM on April 27 [5 favorites +] [!]



Yeah, I realized it was wishful thinking right after I pressed "Post Comment". I was wondering when someone would call me out on it.
posted by 200burritos at 12:59 PM on April 27, 2012


This girl is amazing and I in no way want to diminish her amazingness, but why a Fiero exactly?

Fiero's are pretty awesome cars, bad press about engine fires aside (which is more hype than problem especially once the recall was done and olny effected the L4s anyways). They are light so the 95hp L4 and 140hpV6 still move them along. The handling is fair, even on the 84-87 and because of the mid engine layout they weren't able to dial the snap oversteer out so they can be exciting without having to drive at the limit. Plus the ability to bring the end around with your right foot when ever you want can be handy. The L4's get decent gas mileage with the tall rear end. And I think they look pretty good, certianly better than 90% of the cars out there. And hey 100% plastic body = No visible rust. And even the hidden rust isn't bad on the cars which is kind of amazing considering the novelty of the frame.
posted by Mitheral at 1:10 PM on April 27, 2012


My first teenage hand-me-down car was a 1995 Ford Aspire hatchback in emerald with the magenta stripe accent.

I am not and have never been a car person.
posted by Nomyte at 1:12 PM on April 27, 2012


I'm totally jealous of her drive and dedication - at that age my goal was to carve out as much time for video games as possible. I didn't get into working on my car in earnest until maybe 2 years ago(28), and feel like my prime skill-developing years have passed. Won't stop me from continuing to do what I feel I can, though.
posted by owtytrof at 1:50 PM on April 27, 2012


When I was 15, my father pulled up outside his engine shop one day with a tractor trailer that had on it a 1964 mustang, in pieces. Engine and transmission too. He said when I could put it together, I could have it. (I worked at the shop, and instead of paying me a salary, he paid me in dream car...but I still had to build it.)

What he failed to consider was the power 15 year old girls have over a shop full of mechanics. I mean, I put it together, but I managed to convince the guys that a 6-cylinder engine was a crime in that car.

By the time I was done, they helped me create a balanced, blueprinted 351 Windsor, racing compression domed pistons,comp cams 306 hyd. cam, 69 60cc heads, Holley hi-rise,changed out the 8" stock rear for a traction 4:11k...frankly, I get warm just remembering the Beast. The modifications to the firewall and frame were insane, just to get it to fit, and then restabilize it. (Which is how I learned to use a cutting torch and an arc welder.) But when I was done, oh my god this car was fast. So fast. So very, very fast. Way too damn fast. No teenager should have a car that fast. God I loved that car.

I was the first girl to break the 13 sec 1/4 mile at the local track. Somewhere I have a Polaroid of me and Beast with my timeslip.

So even way back in the days of 8 mgp muscle cars and .50 gallons of gas, there were girls who build their own cars. And then raced them. Vroom! I think what Kathryn is doing is magnificent. Go team Feiro!
posted by dejah420 at 2:24 PM on April 27, 2012 [27 favorites]


man I don't even have the patience to click "next" through 13 pages of a badly designed forum
posted by desjardins at 2:37 PM on April 27, 2012


My first teenage hand-me-down car was a 1995 Ford Aspire hatchback in emerald with the magenta stripe accent.

I am not and have never been a car person.


I think the first might explain the second...

My first car was a 66 Corvair. Much like Dejah420 i had to get it running (and keep it running-a much bigger challenge). To this day I don't trust any kind of new first run technology after owning that car. GM really tried to break the mold on compact american cars with that beast and they did....and noone ever used the new mold again.
posted by bartonlong at 2:56 PM on April 27, 2012


I wonder how much of this is really being driven (heh) by the 12-year-old?

An understandable question, if she comes from a family of car people and has always been welcomed into car-related discussions (which sounds like the case here), I don't think it's that odd. It's a chance to do a big, awesome project (she can drive!) with her parents.

Still sad I didn't stick with HAM radio. Sorry, Dad. Maybe when I move back to the West Coast?
posted by smirkette at 3:36 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Smirkette I am starting to consider being a HAM after learning how useful they were during 9/11 when other communication lines went down. There is a wonderful Ham Nation show on the TWiT Network that, even though I am new to the idea, I find absolutely engaging and informative!
posted by TangerineGurl at 3:43 PM on April 27, 2012


My first thought was, giving a two-seater V6 to a teenager is just asking for trouble.

Teach her to autocross it, and it could be the best self-defense training she'll ever have.
posted by LordSludge at 4:48 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mine was a 1968 Karmann Ghia... it was a heap when I first got it. But babysitting money (true) replaced everything but the tires on it before drug addict step-father sold it out from under me. Just came home from school one day and it was gone.

The bug runs in the family - my oldest is now a trained mechanic who started off interning at a restoration shop at 15.
posted by _paegan_ at 6:34 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


TangerineGurl, HAMs have a long history of being especially useful in times of trouble. They're also pretty used to being an international community; my somewhat xenophobic father, bless his heart treasures his international QSL cards, collected over 50 years of HAMing. It's one of the original social networks!
posted by smirkette at 7:00 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's interesting how virtually all subject-specific forums have nearly the same "vibe" to them - eager posters giving meticulous accounts of the work they are doing, and scores of responses praising their work. I find the little twists of language and jargon that develop to be completely endearing.
posted by davey_darling at 7:51 PM on April 27, 2012


I wonder how much of this is really being driven (heh) by the 12-year-old?

In my experience teens have a lot of drive, but sadly it seems they very rarely have people around them that can help enable their ambition.
posted by the_artificer at 8:19 PM on April 27, 2012


Amazing person.

I hope that her future exploits are even more awesome.

Because if her future potentially-stupid-assed-exploits are forced down the public via commercial media conglomerates, more of me is going to die.
posted by porpoise at 8:44 PM on April 27, 2012


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