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Still Rolling: Inspired by Herbie, Faye Hadley of 'All Girls Garage' customized this VW Rabbit

TV host and expect wrenched Faye Hadley has customized this Volskwagen Rabbit for off-roading.

Photo by Jesus Garcia

Faye Hadley has come a long way in a short time in the automotive world. She is a professional Toyota Specialist and Harvard graduate, but is better known as the co-host in the show "All Girls Garage" on Discovery Channel. The the pebble that started the avalanche of her automotive enthusiasm was a little car she lovingly named Gaia, after the Geek goddess of Earth.

Sometimes an inanimate object becomes the key to a purpose in life. A first guitar can snowball into a world tour, or a little league helmet into a multi-million dollar MLB contract. Some are more obvious than others, but it's the objects that force us into a180-degree spin that hide in the blind spot of the unexpected. For Faye Hadley, that object was a diesel-powered1980 Volkswagen Rabbit she found hidden, abandoned, behind a barn while on vacation in Washington State in 2007.

Faye Hadley Volskwagen Rabbit Texas The interior of the car features its own custom flare.Photo by Jesus Garcia

A childhood with minimal television screen time. Faye would only watch the occasional movie on VHS. One of those films was The Love Bug (1969) featuring possibly the most famous Volkswagen of them all, Herbie. The concept of a living car stuck with her. In her youth she would offend ask her mom and grandmother to take her to car shows. An interest for cars had dawned but it wouldn't break the horizon until years later.

The little Volkswagen barn find had not seen a highway roughly 10 years, but Hadley is the kind of person that follows the rule set by Hunter S. Thompson, "Buy the ticket, take the ride she had no mechanical experience at the time and rolled the dice on driving the Rabbit back across the country to her parents' home in New Hampshire.

The Rabbit was originally powered by a diesel engine paired with a four-speed manual transmission. The powertrain kept the model trekking until one mile from her mom's house it blew a head gasket. With no money for parts Hadley used the Rabbit as a semi-daily driver as she limped the car to and from school in Massachusetts.

She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in psychology in 2010, but even after securing a well paying job she had a twitch in the hands. She had a festering desire, a yearning for grease under finger nails and the cold feel of a stainless steel wrench over a dry yellow note pad.

During her drives around town, people started to take notice. Northern winters became the salty graves for many VW Rabbits so seeing one in the late 2000's was a visual treat for people with fond memories of them. The local VW owner's club invied her to car meets. It was at these meets where she would go on to meet her mechanic mentor, Jesse.

Faye Hadley Volskwagen Rabbit Texas This isn't your typical Rabbit restoration project.Photo by Jesus Garcia

Jesse was the first person who listened to her dream about learning cars and welcomed her as a shop apprentice. Over the next two years Hadley got the hands-on experience she needed to follow her dream. She was no longer just another Ivy Leaguer. Now she was degree-holder capable of performing an engine swap.

The Rabbit's original diesel engine needed to be rebuilt three times. The first was when it blew up one mile from Hadley's mother's house. The second time the engine quit it was somewhere in Kansas on another cross-country road trip. It gave up the ghost a third time when Hadley needed the Rabbit to tow a motorized scooter and Gaia didn't care for it – pop goes the rod. A replaced engine came from a 130,000 mile VW Golf as a 2.0-liter heart with a $200 price tag.

The engine isn't the only thing Hadley has replaced. Even at first glance, the casual observer can see that this rad Rabbit is far from Wolfsburg. The car has a custom lift-kit. Its front suspension features parts from a Volkswagen Mark 2 GLI and its rear-end uses parts from a Mark 3. The front and rear bumpers are one-of-kind custom fabrications that were Hadley's first welding project and carry a sentimental curb weight. The hood scoop is adapted from a Subaru WRX STI that no longer needed it. There's even a small skid plate underneath.

The results give Gaia an urban off-road look that serves as real life capability.

The car's front seats have been swapped with those from a Honda Prelude that have proved to be way more comfortable than the German stock seats. This Rabbit doubled as both a camper and shop truck in the past so Hadley opted to delete the rear seat for good. She's added another gear with a swapped in five-speed transmission for easier road tripping. Yet, she says that her favorite modifications to the car have been cup holders and a "kick-ass" sound system – the essentials.

Faye Hadley Volskwagen Rabbit Texas The Rabbit has a host of modifications for off-roading and general badassery.Photo by Jesus Garcia

Future planed modifications for Gaia do include the word turbo, but nothing too crazy. Hadley's goal is to produce just enough boost to get this little Rabbit to the end of its 85 mph speedometer.

Hadley's 1980 VW Rabbit is a moving, breathing, testament to her skill as a mechanic. "It gives my work the test the time," she told AutomotiveMap. The fact that the car is still road worthy after all it's been through is an achievement to her success. In the process, she has embedded the car with more than just swear and blood.

To call Gaia just a car is a swear word for Hadley. This Rabbit is family. This car was featured in her wedding party, and she has the Rabbit's VIN tattooed on her arm.

Hadley is a busy person. When she isn't on TV, or managing her auto repair business Pistons & Pixie Dust, she is teaching. She is one of the founders of Women and Machine, which are classes designed to develop female car enthusiasts. Lessons taught by women for women that cover the basics from how to check the oil, change a tire, and learning how to speak to a mechanic. These are important skills to anyone who owns a vehicle and is self-aware of how little they know if the check engine light suddenly came on.

The journey from Harvard graduate to mobile Toyota specialist/ TV host/ business owner started with an old Volkswagen for Faye Hadley. The car has been a learning tool, travel companion, bridesmaid, work horse, but above all else the most important thing this 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit has been is, Hadley's car.

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Ford has listened and will be making its Bronco available with a manual transmission and the Sasquatch Package.

Photo courtesy of Twitter/@MrLevine

It's safe to say that enthusiasm for the 2021 Ford Bronco is high. The voices of the enthusiasts are loud too. So loud, that the powers that be at Ford Motor Company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan heard them when they shouted all over social media that they wanted the Bronco to be available with a manual transmission and the Sasquatch Package - a combination not announced at the product's debut.

"The Bronco community spoke and we heard them," said Mark Grueber, Ford Bronco consumer marketing manager. "Our team moved quickly to add Sasquatch with a manual transmission – another example of our focus on giving customers the best possible off-road vehicles and accessories that we can."

2021 Ford Bronco four-door Many orders have already been placed for the 2021 Bronco.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Previously, the Sasquatch Package was only available on select trim levels of the two- and four-door Bronco with the available 10-speed automatic transmission.

The Sasquatch Package gives the model 35-inch Goodyear mud-terrain tires that are mounted to 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, Dana front and rear electronic locking axles with 4.7:1 final drive ratio, and a high-clearance suspension with a nearly two-inch wider track, position-sensitive Bilstein shocks, and wider fender flares.

The change makes the Bronco the only 4x4 with a seven-speed manual and 35-inch off-road tires in its class, giving it one more boasting point in the Bronco vs. Wrangler throwdown for off-road supremacy.

The Sasquatch Package will now be available across the Ford Bronco lineup including the Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outerbanks, and Badlands grades. It is standard on the Bronco Wildtrak and First Edition models. Exterior paint job options vary by trim level.

"Capability is always a priority, and pairing Sasquatch with a manual transmission and available advanced 4x4 system gives it a maximum crawl ratio of 94.75:1, providing even more off-road capability across the line-up," said Dave Pericak, Ford icons global director.

The manual transmission with Sasquatch package is targeted to be available in late 2021. But, you may have to wait 15 months to get yours.

Earlier this year, AutomotiveMap rode in a Bronco with a manual transmission as well as the Bronco Sport.

The Bronco build and price module on Ford.com will go live in October. How can you get a deal on your preferred model? There's one thing you need to know.

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The Volkswagen ID.4 will debut this year.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 will be uvelied later this month. Before it is shown sans camouflage to the public, the automaker has revealed a plan that would give ID.4 owners three year of unlimited, free charging on Electrify America's nationwide network of ultra-fast chargers.

Electrify America currently has more than 470 charging stations and over 2,000 DC fast chargers nationwide. The company currently boasts two cross-country charging routes and recently announced a partnership with Love's Travel Stops for additional charging station placement. Additionally, the company will soon compete with Amazon and sell Electrify Home charging units, complete with installation.

Electrify Home Electrify America will compete with Amazon by selling at-home EV charging stations. Photo courtesy of Electrify America

Electrify America is currently the only open, public charging network to offer chargers with power levels up to 350 kilowatts. Across the country, 96 percent of the population live within 120 miles of an Electrify America charger.

"With a relentless commitment to driving the electric vehicle industry forward, Electrify America opened DC fast-charging stations at an accelerated pace of 1.2 per business day in 2019," said Giovanni Palazzo, president and chief executive officer of Electrify America. "As more and more electric vehicles are introduced to the market, and consumer interest grows, we are excited to announce this agreement with Volkswagen to deliver fast and accessible charging to ID.4 customers and a new wave of EV adopters."

"The ID.4 was engineered, loaded and priced to win the hearts of SUV owners who are simply ready to go electric—and fall in love with Volkswagen again," said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. "By adding three years of fast charging at no additional cost through Electrify America, we are eliminating all barriers for mainstream compact SUV buyers to go electric."

Electrify America continues to expand. The company plans to install or have under development approximately 800 total charging stations with about 3,500 DC fast chargers by December 2021.

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