If there was ever a woman that young girls with an eye for hot rods and classic cars could aspire to be like when they grew up, it would be Kristin Cline. Managing editor of Nitto’s Driving Line publication, creator of Grease Girl, and a vintage car, music, and fashion aficionado, Kristin is one rockabilly gal we’re proud to welcome to Rod Authority’s Leading Ladies family! And you guessed it – she doesn’t mind getting her pinup-styled locks or fingernails dirty.
While most diehard hot rod enthusiasts can trace their automotive enthusiasm back to their childhoods, it wasn’t until a little bit later in life that Kristin really caught the hot rod bug. But don’t think for a second this means she’s any less of a gearhead now. “I didn’t really grow up around cars, and it wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I started wanting a classic car,” Kristin told us.
Vintage style and music had really gotten my attention and my interest in cars followed suite. – Kristin Cline
Going from a mechanical and vintage car newbie to a well-versed, full-on “Grease Girl” in just a few short years, Kristin has proven that the automotive industry is right where she’s meant to be.
“I was actually headed toward the medical field when I fell in love with cars,” Kristin explained. “I was applying to post-bachelor programs when I got involved in my Studebaker and discovered my love of writing about cars. The more I wrote and photographed, the better I got and more I loved doing it!”
Not only does Kristin write about and photograph cars, she also works on her personal 1955 Studebaker Champion that she classifies as a “driving work in progress.” When she’s not in the field covering the gamut of automotive events for her job, which range from the Pikes Peak Hill Climb to the NORRA Mexican 1000, chances are you’ll find Kristin in her garage working on that car.
“I’ve got a few gremlins that cropped up from the past summer’s drive to the Bonneville Salt Flats that I’m still working out,” Kristin explained about her Studebaker. “I’ve got some big plans coming for her in another year, and want to get out and drive her as much as I can before then!”
If you were to gauge Kristin’s passion for the automotive industry on a scale from one to ten, her ardor would certainly hit a 15-plus. The main-squeeze of her automotive love? Classic cars of course!
“Classic cars are what made me fall in love and where my own personality is most at home,” Kristin explained. “I love their personalities, histories, and the strong theme of ingenuity, craftsmanship, and nostalgia that traditional hot rods carry with them.” But it’s not just hot rods and classics that Kristin can respect.
“I’ve been lucky enough that the publication I lead covers everything on four-wheels, so I get to be exposed to and a part of many different niches of the automotive world,” Kristin stated. “I find that people and cars of each niche have a good amount of things in common with one another and [I] am always excited to learn more about a new segment.”
What Drives That Excitement?
“Even more than adventures, I love getting to meet people and hear their stories,” Kristin explained. “Being in automotive media gives me a reason to talk to anyone – from working with some of the great Nitto race drivers like Vaughn Gittin Jr., Mad Mike and Shannon Campbell, to big name builders like theRingbrothers, Icon Design and Gas Monkey Garage, to hearing the personal stories behind the builds of regular enthusiasts.”
A Well-Rounded Automotive Life
When she’s not off documenting the many stretches of the automotive world for Driving Line, Kristin’s taking on her own adventures with a mechanical twist. True to form, Kristin started out in the industry on such an adventure, which led to creating her own blog Grease Girl a quirky and uplifting personal journal of her adventures with her ’55 Studebaker.
“My desire really began when I started showing up to car shows with my Studebaker and finding so few other female car owners… and even fewer who turned their own wrenches,” Kristin commented regarding her first step in her automotive writing career. “For me, getting involved in the garage was such an amazing experience that I was baffled why more women wouldn’t want to join in. So I set out to tell my story, my learnings and adventures, in hopes that I could encourage more involvement and more knowledge surrounding cars.”
From her own blog to freelancing for various automotive publications, Kristin developed her writing and photography skills before fully diving into the industry with her first official career gig, which was running a site for an automotive manufacturer. When Nitto decided to start producing their own enthusiast publication, Kristin jumped at the opportunity and hasn’t looked back since. In fact, she has won a number of content and design awards for her work with the publication.
“It’s really fulfilling to see a project I helped launch grow into something of the caliber that Driving Line is today,” Kristin remarked. “I love helping to tell stories. I love being challenged and never having two days be exactly the same.”
While Kristin continues her career as the managing editor for Driving Line, she still maintains Grease Girl and continues to share her automotive adventures, experiences under the hood, and a bit of hearty advice on anything from swapping transmissions to classic pinup hairstyles!
Hopefully being female won’t always make me unique in this industry – for now, I just take that as a challenge to promote and educate the next generation about the opportunities that exist here. – Kristin Cline
“It’s an all-female build that will be finished for SEMA 2017 and will be in the BASF booth,” Kristin explained. “The project as a whole is all about education and giving women the chance to work together, and recruiting the next generation of enthusiasts and technicians.”
So what advice does she give females looking to get into an automotive career?
“Don’t wait,” Kristin declared. “No matter what your age, start getting involved now. Find a program, find a family member or neighbor that will let you start tinkering or going to the track or whatever it is you’re interested in. Tinkering and figuring out how to build stuff with your hands is going to do nothing but help you in whatever field you ultimately end up in.”
“If you’re like me and switched careers, just start doing what it is you want to do,” she continued. “There’s going to be a learning curve involved, but you can’t get great until you’ve trudged through the more mediocre.”
As far as women looking to be a force in their career like she is, Kristin had this advice:
“Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself. Be open to learning and challenge. Make sure the people you’re working for know your aspirations and find ways to prove the value of your work and take on more responsibility. Very seldom are promotions given to someone because they merely want to move up, they’re given because that person is already proving they can do the work.”
“Sometimes I may be the only female at the table, which I take as an opportunity to bring what may be a unique viewpoint to fruition. Hopefully being female won’t always make me unique in this industry – for now, I just take that as a challenge to promote and educate the next generation about the opportunities that exist here.”
Kristin is a true inspiration to all those who meet her and a perpetual force when it comes to promoting and continuing classic car culture, learning everything you can and, plain and simple, getting your hands dirty. To that, we say cheers to yet another amazing Leading Lady!