The storm under your bonnet! Meet Heather Storm, the Garage Squad queen who loves bringing classic hot rods back to life
After a long day at the garage, Storm talks about the upcoming season of Garage Squad and addresses the longstanding debate of electric versus traditional engines.
Meet the ultimate renaissance woman of the 21st century: Garage Squad's Heather Storm.
Storm grew up in Montana and discovered her love for wines while attending school at Oregon State University, which is nestled in the Willamette Valley wine region. In her quest to learn more about them, she traveled far and wide, realizing the beauty of our blue planet and how important it is to conserve it.
She was raised by a DIY maverick father, who taught her manual transmission and how to change tires while girls her age were brushing their hair. Soon, she grew fond of repairing vehicles in her garage and, somewhere along the way, embarked on a rather unconventional journey - fixing up classic hot rods for folks who needed it the most.
Heather, a natural explorer, emanates an aura of positivity wherever she goes as she cruises along Interstate highways on her '65 Mustang. Armed with a wrench and a spanner, she's ready to join her longtime pals — world champion National Hot Rod Association driver Bruno Massel and expert mechanic Joe Zolper — and turn heartbreaks into rewarding automotive dreams in the fifth season of Garage Squad premiering on the Motor Trend App on Wednesday, August 22. Here's a look at the chat we had with Heather.
In an interview with KTLA, you revealed that your personal car is a '65 Mustang. Can you describe your attachment with the car and the story behind it?
After working on Garage Squad for almost three seasons, I was really excited about getting a classic car for myself, something that I could really dig into, instead of driving all these different cars all the time. Rony, a mechanic who worked with me on Garage Squad, said that his brother was interested in selling his '65 Mustang Coupe and that we should go and take a look at it, considering we were working nearby the location last year. We found that it was in great condition, had luxury interiors, numbers matching, all stock, and was overall a beautiful car. I fell in love with it right away and thought it was perfect. I saw myself driving it and thought this is how you make a decision - you don't think too hard about it, you go with your gut. So, I purchased it and have been driving it around the country ever since.
Garage Squad is going strong and entering its 5th season this August. What can we look forward to?
I think this season is going to be our strongest ever with hour-long episodes, similar to the last couple of seasons. We got the opportunity to really tell the story behind each vehicle, the car owners and why it is so important for them. We also show a lot more of what we're doing to the car so that people watching it at home feel inspired and motivated to go to their garage and work on their cars as well.
The show's holy trinity has always been Heather Storm, Bruno Massel, and Joe Zolper. Can we expect any surprises this time around?
Haha! We're still the main folks thankfully. However, there are a few surprises who will be joining us in the garage. Also, there are a few surprises for people who don't know that their car has been fixed and is up and running again. I promise it's going to be a lot of fun.
Women across the world look up to you for what you've achieved. What is it like to be a female in a predominantly male industry?
I think it is always a little tough in any male-dominated industry for a female to get in and prove to the guys that you have what it takes. You know, stereotypes go far and wide, gender-wise, that women can't handle dirty jobs or really "hang out" with the guys. So, it gives me the opportunity to prove these stereotypes wrong for all the women out there who are part of such industries. I had a hard time when I was going through the testing period, but I succeeded and I'm in the crew now, and we have a lot of good times together. I think it's really important to show that to every woman out there and I'm really glad to be a part of it.
Across 4 seasons of Garage Squad, I'm sure you've had a number of emotional experiences. Would you like to recount any memorable episode?
For me, each episode is very different. There are some really emotional moments when we are able to get these cars up and running, and really able to "rescue" them. In fact, there is an episode this season that really got to me. Of course, I don't want to give away exactly what happens as it is important to watch the episode. I actually appeared in one of the reveals on camera where Bruno asks me to "tell him what we did on the car!" and I'm like, "I have to dry my eyes for a second here."
It was a very touching story about Joe, one of the owners of the car. We actually worked with the owners for a week and got to really connect with them. There is another episode coming up in the new season which I'm sure will bring tears to our viewers' eyes.
Some of Tesla's latest models are giving Formula One vehicles a challenge. Being an environmentalist while also loving vintage/classic cars, what is the potential for electric cars in the future? Will you be getting one anytime soon?
I think electric cars are great. In fact, I love Tesla and what they're doing for the industry. You know, the fact that their fastest car is an electric is really amazing and says a lot. I see the stigma in our society wherein people say if you like classic cars you cannot like electric models - I don't buy into that. I think you can like all types of cars, especially if they have cutting edge technology. However, at the same time, one can also appreciate the crafts of classics... I'm sorry I guess I'm talking favorites now.
I think, in the future, we are going to see more classic-turned-electric models. I know, many readers are going to be like, "Oh no! We can't have that. What about the sound of the engine?" But, I think it is important to appreciate other aspects as well. I guess I see a future where there is a little more room to do whatever we want with our vehicles - If you want to turn your classic into an electric variant, Go for it! Right? It is still a cool car!
I still wish their engines made the same sounds though.
Haha! See? There you go. I agree, there is something great about hearing it start-up and really feeling the power behind the traditional engine, but there is a lot of power in an electric car as well, so I'm with you to an extent. However, it is important to consider the environment as we go forward and not be greedy. Open the space and let people put electric engines in a classic car so that we can also be sustainable as a planet.
German, Italian, Japanese, and British, what 'make' would Heather Storm pick and why?
Ah! Are you going to make me pick favorites? I don't think it works like that for me because I fall in love with almost every car we work on. I always tell people I don't have a favorite color either and it's true - it all depends on my mood, even with drinks - So what am I doing? Am I at the beach? I might get a light beer. Is it cold outside and I'm by the fire? Then it would be a nice glass of wine; I see cars the same way - where are we going and what type of driving are we doing? That's why there are so many cars out there. It really matters what you're planning to do. Now, I don't have the money to have them all and so I have a Mustang! Who knows if there's not another one in my near future?
You are a Scuba Rescue Diver, Mixologist, Garage Queen, Actress, TV host, and environmental scientist all in one. What's your secret?
I guess I never really say it too much, do I? On a serious note, I think I really like 'learning' in general and if an opportunity presents itself, I jump in, fully into the moment, the project, or the idea we're working on. So for me, each of those specialties develops on their own at their own time. I think the more you know about things, the more you understand and then see it as a whole -- the more fun it is.
Stick Shift or automatic? And why?
Oh, I love stick shift! See, it is really about feeling the car and having complete control over the vehicle, and that makes it more fun to drive.
Aside from bringing classics back to life and burning rubber, what are your favorite pastimes?
Laying on the beach with a cocktail. You know, that sounds really great right about now, after a long day in the garage. Other than that, I really love to be active and I love to travel. For me, traveling, meeting people, getting out there and seeing the world is really important - I think it gives perspective to life and it's definitely something that I'm constantly excited about doing, and I'm always doing it!
You're really into cooking. Could you tell us more about it?
Yes! You know, I became a pescetarian in high school so I needed to figure out what I could make for myself, considering I grew up in a traditional home eating meat and potatoes. My mom was an amazing cook, so I grew up with fresh ingredients throughout my childhood. Hence, for me, everything is about 'fresh'! I started teaching myself to cook through various cookbooks and now it's such that I don't even look at them. I create my own recipes and it is more of a zen time for me in the kitchen. It de-stresses me after a long day. For some people, it can seem like a pain in the butt to go and cook a meal for themselves, but for me, it is about bringing out the creativity in the process. Coming up with something on the fly with the ingredients in my fridge is something very rewarding for me and my friends get to enjoy the benefits of the same.
I think it is quite a fun hobby and I get to add new recipes to my cookbook.
Celebrated another year of living life to the fullest. Started with a lovely glass of French white @augustinewinebar then a 16 course dinner experience @scratchbarkitchen Necklace by @linkajewelry What a treat! #birthdayfun #rewardyourself #doityourway #foodie #wine #weekendvibes😎 #livewell #cheers🍷
Wow! Furthermore, you're also known for your love for wines and are a Sommelier yourself. Tell us more about that.
I love wine! I went to school at Oregon State University in Corvallis, which is located in the Willamette Valley wine region. That was the first place I went for wine tasting at a young age and fell in love with the whole experience of being in a vineyard, going to the tasting room, and learning about wines - it's always changing and there is so much to learn about it. Plus, it's fun, relaxing and beautiful. So, enjoying it there I decided to go to other wine regions and learn more about wine. I also wanted to be able to pick a good bottle of wine off the shelf instead of - just staring at the label. From then on, I got myself certified as a Sommelier and started to understand how to order a good bottle at a restaurant by knowing from what region the wine is coming from and how it would go with my food. Over time, I enjoyed continuing to learn about the many different varieties of wine, considering there are so many wines, so many bottles, and so many vintages - because every year more wine comes out! It is impossible to ever know them all and it is a really fun activity in general.
Also, most people like wine so it is a fun conversation starter!
Saudi women recently won the right to drive. What are your thoughts?
That was fantastic to hear. It is absolutely a step in the right direction and I think it should continue in that direction!
What is your take on the issue of the gender wage gap? How big is the issue and has it ever affected you personally?
To me, any inequality is a big deal. No person of a gender, race, or belief system should be judged for who they are and I think it's a very big deal if that's happening, be it pay gap or anything else. There's no reason someone should be getting paid more for the same or rather, inferior services. It should be based on how good a job you are doing. And given it's 2018, it's incredible, astonishing, and sad that it still exists.
A great thought! Finally, is there anything more you would like to share with us?
Oh yes, there is! I recently started a new YouTube series called 'Drive Yourself Local' in which I'm driving across America in my '65 Mustang. My series is all about discovering local people and local businesses out there. It's about supporting those people and really just showing all of us how we're all those people, all out there doing the same things and needing the same things in life. It is about bringing people together.
Season 5 of Garage Squad will be jump-started by the Motor Trend App on Wednesday, August 22, with its first four episodes before airing on Velocity on television Wednesday, August 29 at 9 PM ET/PT.