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Volvo S60 Recharges a Classic 1961 PV544, Reveals It to Applause at SEMA 2022

  • The exterior of a 1961 Volvo PV544 hides a 415-hp plug-in hybrid powerplant from a 2019 Volvo S60 Recharge.
  • Lateiner led the build, working with volunteers — both experienced technicians and novice mechanics — over an 18-month period leading up to the 2022 SEMA show.
  • Volvo has been clear in its aims to increase gender diversity across its entire workforce, including technicians in dealers.

In the 1940s, women built many of the warplanes and tanks that won World War II, but by the 1950s, the idea of ​​a woman turning a wrench on a car was culturally laughable. Girls weren’t even allowed in the pits at many motorsport events, and new-car ads tended to feature women in the passenger seat more often than behind the wheel. The auto industry has made strides in diversifying its workforce and its marketing, and the 2022 SEMA Show featured numerous female racers and several cars built by all-female teams. None included as many female participants as this Volvo Iron Maven, a restomod PV544 led by producer and TV host Bogi Lateiner and completed with the help of more than 160 volunteers—all women.

volvo is building for sema 2022

Elana Scherr|Car and Driver

“It was an incredible experience,” Lateiner said as the finished car was unveiled in the BASF paint booth to a round of applause. “It’s important to call attention to all the incredible women working in the automotive industry, and to support and promote gender diversity in hiring.”

The Iron Maven project started with a stock 1961 Volvo PV544. Lateiner and her team completely stripped the car down to bare metal and removed the body from its original undercarriage. At the same time, they took a 2019 S60 Recharge hybrid sedan and applied the classic body to the modern chassis. If you think it was an adjustment challenge, you’re right. The PV544 had to increase its fenders while the S60 wheelbase was shortened by 16 inches. Even the seats had to be cut and narrowed to fit in the small vintage body. The finished car was painted in a custom BASF color, Rebelberry.

volvo is building for sema 2022

Elana Scherr|Car and Driver

Throughout the construction, women from all over the country came to offer their skills and learn new ones. During the unveiling, we spoke with Christy Stainback, a metal artist from North Carolina who was invited to work on the build after he sent Lateiner a Stainback Steel Works decal. “She wrote back and said I should come and work on the car,” says Stainback, who was initially hesitant, fearing that she was not qualified or that Lateiner was not serious about the invitation. “Finally my husband said, ‘Say yes, what’s there to lose?’ and so I flew to Arizona and did it!” She pointed to a section on the front screen and smiled, “I made that piece!”

volvo is building for sema 2022

Elana Scherr|Car and Driver

It’s that kind of confidence that Lateiner wants to encourage in all automotive enthusiasts, but especially in women, who have historically been discouraged from pursuing STEM and industrial careers. Her Girl Gang Garage in Arizona offers classes and open house events designed to improve skills for experienced technicians and teach skills to interested rookies.

volvo is building for sema 2022

Elana Scherr|Car and Driver

Other participants in the build included professional mechanics, welders and painters as well as various Volvo techs. Volvo is actively pursuing a more balanced workforce, in part from its work with Lateiner on the Iron Maven project. Efforts include more training programs for dealer technologies and management training for all employees about inclusive workplaces, and Volvo reports that the number of women in its U.S. workforce has risen from 28 percent to 33 percent since 2021. Small steps, but in the right direction.

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