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Infatuated with cars

The classic car scene is seen as a feel-good place for well-heeled older men.
Now female motor fans are stirring up the scene - with flair
for mechanics 

Young female petrolheads fall outside these patterns. In the land of poets, thinkers and petrolhead aficionados, women are not really supposed to be interested in cars as a cultural asset. And certainly not that they should tinker with them themselves. "Girls have too few points of contact with technology, and later they are not trusted with anything in the car," says Laura Kukuk, engineer, classic car expert and lecturer in vehicle technology at the TH Cologne. "Women too often only sit in the passenger seat." She comes from a family business that has firmly established itself in the automotive industry and has had "petrol running through her veins" since childhood, as she says. She regularly drives rallies and wears a bracelet with a pendant of one of her favourite models: a Lancia D24. Both privately and professionally, she is interested in "pretty much all eras" of automotive history, from pre-war models to electric racing cars. Kukuk identifies completely as a petrolhead, but also says: "I don't know how I would have found my way into this world as a girl without the family connection." And even though the 29-year-old was fascinated by cars from an early age, her path was not always easy. "Let me put it this way: the classic car community is great, very warm and helpful, but as a woman entering this male-dominated world - you have to be prepared to constantly break through barriers."

It is mainly men over 50 who are on the road in the scene. When she drives to customers to check classic cars for age, value and roadworthiness, she is often mistaken for the assistant. A woman explaining why which spare part needs to be replaced? Unthinkable.
"You can only take it with humour," says Kukuk. "But of course it's sometimes annoying to have to deal with your own role as a woman again and again when all I really want to do is my job, which I love more than anything." Of course you can debate whether it makes so much sense to always have to behave "as a woman" on all kinds of topics. Hello, where is the freedom in 2022, everyone can be interested in what is important to them, right? Who dictates whether you stage beauty products or classic cars on Instagram, whether you study humanities or prefer to lie under the lift in the garage? Nobody does. But, as becomes clear in conversations with women like Hanna Schönwald or Laura Kukuk, there is still a difference when you position yourself as a woman in a supposedly male domain. And especially when you don't just enthuse about cars in private, but go public with your passion. Should you even address the doubts and prejudices that come your way - or does that make it even more annoying?


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