This Group of Women, Led by Celebrity Mechanic Bogi Lateiner, Re-Built A Vintage Volvo – As a Plug-In Electric Hybrid

Maven Is Coming Together. Photo: Volvo Cars, Usa
Maven is coming together. Photo: Volvo Cars, USA

Bogi Lateiner hates to say no to a good idea, especially if it involves teaching and empowering women.

It would certainly be fair to call Sarah “Bogi” Lateiner a ‘top dog.’ The small-statured mechanic, custom car-builder and celebrity TV personality has become renowned and revered in the automotive world in a fairly short period of time. And that world is now getting bigger, with her ‘underdog’ project that was not only a hit at its unveiling at the 2022 Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (SEMA) in Las Vegas recently, but then took Bogi to the stage as a panelist at the Washington Post’s Global Women’s Summit. The journey will now send her across the US to share her retro-build story and the story of women in the automotive industry.

Related: I Was a Guest in Bogi Lateiner’s Girl Gang Garage

Working In The Girl Gang Garage. Photo: Volvo Cars, Usa

Empowering women is part of the goal of the Girl Gang Garage. Photo: Volvo Cars, USA

The Latest Girl Gang Garage Project: Iron Maven?

The meld of a 1961 Volvo PV544 and a modern-day Volvo S60 Recharge Polestar, Iron Maven is the third ‘build’ for Bogi, founder of Girl Gang Garage and the long-standing TV host of All Girls Garage and Garage Squad. She has influenced thousands of women since she began her professional career as a mechanic in 2016. Not long ago, Bogi was an outsider to the automotive industry, however, the 44-year-old who hails from Phoenix has now attracted a huge following. 

When she first learned to drive, it was her experiences at repair shops that made her want to also learn how to fix her own car. She attended Universal Technical Institute, trained at BMW’s factory training and worked as a dealer technician for seven years. That led to the vision to develop her own auto repair shop where she could welcome and train women as technicians. She opened her first shop, 180 Degrees Automotive, in her driveway in 2006, before opening her namesake shop, which she has co-owned with friend and fellow auto-enthusiast and design technologist Shawanda Williams. Since, Bogi has spoken to and trained thousands of women across the country and worked with 90 women on her first build, the Chevy Montage (’57 Chevy pickup), and 60 women on the High-Yellow ‘56 (1956 Chevy pickup) build.

Related: What Drives Her: Bogi Lateiner Is Empowering Women To Take Control Of Their Auto Repair Experience

Working Together. Photo: Volvo Cars, Usa

Working together. Photo: Volvo Cars, USA

Iron Maven Began with Hesitation, then more Commitment than Bogi Planned

The swoopy 1961 Volvo PV544 was discovered on a bee farm on the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ.

“The PV544 originally was a planned project car for someone I knew. He was a camera guy for a news segment done about the first all-female build. When he told me about the car, I told him I wasn’t really looking for another project, and I don’t do customer work. He pressed, saying he wanted it to be an all-female build because he so supported what I was doing and that he didn’t care if it took multiple years or if total newbies were working on it and that he would fund the build. I initially turned him down, but I researched the car and checked it out and then couldn’t shake the idea.” When he was unable to fund it, Bogi took it on herself.

And Then, a Big Idea Took Hold – And Grew

But next was the motivation from Volvo to use their hybrid powertrain.

“I originally had a much less intensive project in mind. I knew I wanted to do a modern Volvo and originally thought that their V8 would be fun, but I discovered Volvo’s 4-cylinder turbo-charged and supercharged engine, and I was in love. When I did the research, many challenges came up, so I reached out to Volvo because of their demographic of buyers and history as a manufacturer. I thought that they’d be really into it if I could just get it in front of the right person.”

“I reached out to everyone I could find on LinkedIn, asked everyone I knew if they had any Volvo contacts and finally got in front of someone who saw the vision and said yes. It came with one caveat though – he wanted to highlight their plug-in hybrids. I figured this is going be a huge challenge as it is, so why not step it up one more notch! It took the whole concept of the build to the next level – to celebrate the past present and future of cars, of custom-car building, and of women in the automotive trades. It was like many of my crazy ideas that start out small and then grow and grow and grow.”  

In this case, it grew to a team of 165 women from the US and beyond; support from technical experts at Volvo; and the mutual goal to publicize this all-female project to bring awareness to the need for more women to join the auto industry. “I haven’t tallied the actual hours, but a quality restoration typically takes 2,000 to 4,000 hours. With this being a custom build, a body swap, and a teaching model with 30 to 40 percent of the women being hobbyists or newbies, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were closer to 10,000 hours or more.”

Related: Rebelle Rally: Empowering Women Off Road

Girls Ganging Up On The Iron Maven. Photo: Kristin Shaw

Girls ganging up on the Iron Maven. Photo: Kristin Shaw

The Build Created its Own Iron Experts

The Iron Maven was melded and updated with the technologically advanced elements from the Volvo S60 T8 Polestar-engineered sedan that sports a plug-in hybrid drivetrain – a Drive-E, four-cylinder gasoline engine paired to electric motors. Polestar is an electric performance car brand associated with Volvo vehicles that injects more power and torque into an engine through software and adds other parts, as well.

The compact luxury sedan also came with a Polestar-engineered suspension, modern vehicle control systems, and a Sensus multimedia system. Among the modifications were custom 3D-printed components and by-hand fabrication with technical analyses to ensure the final product carried through a blend of classic, current and forward-looking elements and approaches.

Bogi and her team of professional and amateur female mechanics, body technicians, painters and welders worked alongside the group of talented female technicians in Volvo Cars’ network that are Hybrid-Certified. They worked the mojo to make a seamless meld of the modern, 415 horsepower plug-in hybrid with the classic design and vintage body shell on top. It was painted Rebel Berry Purple, a color that was selected through voting when Bogi created a contest to let others choose the color. It was given the name Iron Maven, as the Volvo symbol is the symbol for iron, and Maven means expert.

Bogi, Porsha, And Me. Photo: Volvo

Bogi, Porsha, and Kristin Shaw. Photo: Volvo Cars, USA

The Iron Maven Is Empowering Women – Veterans and Newbies Alike

“I’ve been a mechanic for more than two decades, and I love that the technology is always changing and it’s always a new challenge, but getting into metal work and bodywork and customizing on the first all-female build in 2017 was a game changer. I love the challenge of the build…I love the women… the constant energy in the shop of new ladies coming to work and meet and learn…the connections and the conversation…seeing personal growth, watching them overcome fears, figuring things out together and learning together…creating connections and community, making new friends…it’s all amazing.”

And clearly, Bogi isn’t alone. The Iron Maven was such a hit at SEMA that it’s going on tour and will be on display at events and auto shows throughout 2023.

Girl Gang Garage provides a range of year-round classes and events at their primary location in Phoenix along with a collection of virtual and offsite sessions for all skill levels. Volvo Cars and Girl Gang Garage programming as well as the Iron Maven project build also relate to technical, vocational and STEM learning at schools.

To learn more about the Iron Maven build construction, visit the Girl Gang Garage website and follow @bogisgarage and @girlganggarage on social. Information about technical training programs and similar opportunities with Volvo Cars and Girl Gang Garage are available at and

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