A Spotlight On An All-Women's Car Show: "Yes, I Do Know How To Drive A Stick"
Linda Dannels left her 14-car garage on Saturday morning in her 1955 Oldsmobile 88 Holiday to attend the all women’s car show for her sixth time, unaware she’d be taking home an award that same day.
The Automobile Driving Museum (ADM) in El Segundo hosted their sixth annual All Women’s Car Show and Vintage Fashion Exchange on Saturday, March 23. Young girls ran around stuffing french fries in their mouths from the Ruby’s Diner food truck, occasionally stopping at the baby blue 1966 Ford Mustang to tell its owner, Cathy Newman, how pretty it is. Meanwhile, teenage girls rummaged through the countless racks of vintage dresses inside of the museum until finding one with cherries or flowers on it and begging their mothers to buy it for them. Women of all ages took over the block with their families and friends to show off their pride and joy: their cars.
Throughout history, the automobile has served as a symbol of masculinity. The freedom of the open road, the car's horsepower, driving stick shift, the technical know-how for restoration and tinkering—all of these experiences have predominantly been understood from the perspective of the male driver. Women, in contrast, were relegated to the passenger seat and have been the target of stereotypes that portray them as uninterested in cars and even as bad drivers. Linda Dannels, a long-time participant in the all women’s car show, calls these stereotypes “BS.” Dannels explains that “If you look at the ads for cars back in the ‘50s, actually even today, they usually show a woman in the ad. Women have a lot of decision-making power when it comes to a car.” Dannels, along with 11 other women, won an award for having one of the “Top 12 Most Impressive Cars.”
Not only did the event feature a car show with solely woman-owned cars, but it also shined a spotlight on an all-female restoration team. According to founding member Cynthia Hernandez, the team started last February when the ADM bought a mint-colored 1955 GMC pickup truck and “the museum thought it’d be fun if they got an all girls restoration team to restore it, so at this show last year they put out a sign-up sheet next to the old truck and anybody that was interested could sign up.” Aimee Wyatt, another founding member of the team, explained how they started out with 20 women, but have gone down to “about 10-ish who show up on a regular basis, it’s a lot of work and some women are traveling from far and they have lives, you know.”
Lisa Biggers, an Automotive Service Excellence Technician who works in a Hot Rod shop, is part of the core all-female restoration team who carries a wealth of information in her tool box. Hernandez explained that not everyone is as experienced as Biggers, “some women have never worked on a car, some women have, so we’re all learning together.”
Many women agreed that this car show is all about inspiring other women and girls that they can do whatever they want to do, that they can be in the automotive business and be respected. Linda Dannels doesn’t just wait around until March to show off her knowledge at the show, she likes to show it off year-round. “My Halloween costume is a witch on a broomstick and it says ‘yes, I do know how to drive a stick.’”