Emily Tyler blew the engine of her '88 Pontiac Trans Am in 2011, right around the time her friend managed to raise funds for surgery to fix her broken kneecap. That got Tyler thinking.
"I'll do a stop-motion animation flipbook of me on my car," Tyler recalls. "I'll have my friend Rebecca shoot it, bind it, sell it and pay for the car."
The photographer to whom she pitched the idea told her she knew a lot of girls getting into vintage cars at the time. She suggested doing a photo shoot with all their friends and their rides. That shoot ended up being the first project for Car Krush (carkrush.com), a group bringing together women and non-binary people to geek out over their shared love of cars.
"The first photo shoot we did was off Highway 26," Tyler says. "The girls had pasties on, but they were doing the shot where they're headbanging outside of the car, which was a '76 Trans Am. This female cop drove by and came in and was livid."
When two male cops joined the scene later, all they wanted to know about was the car, Tyler says. "The juxtaposition of the two were interesting."
After another incident with police on the beach in Gearhart, the photo shoots died down, and Tyler focused on adding an educational component to Car Krush.
"I had always wanted to have a class, like a dabblers' class," Tyler says, "because everything at the community college was just like ASE certification or how to purchase your first used car, and I didn't really need those classes."
She went out looking for a female mechanic and met Faye Hadley. With Hadley's help, they began Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow, an auto school that covers the basics of car maintenance, and how to identify repair scams. The curriculum will grow to include more advanced classes, which, for now, are free.
“We’re focusing on growing and nurturing our community, creating space for them to fall in love with cars,” Tyler says. “I believe through what we’re doing we not only give women confidence when talking with their mechanic, we also give them a spark of interest—sort of an ‘Ah ha! This shit’s not rocket science! I’m smart and can figure it out. We can figure it out together.’”
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