Women are blazing a trail in the auto industry

(CBS News) LOS ANGELES - The fully-loaded muscle car has long been a symbol of red-blooded American manhood. However, the cars aren't changing, but who's designing them is.

As in any show dedicated to the automobile, the car is the star. But sharing the spotlight for this 2013 Mustang GT is the team behind it: 40 women who work in the auto industry, banding together to create, design and install every part.

Cars aren't just a hobby. They're a passion.

"My very favorite car is my own car, a 1955 Studebaker Champion," said Kristin Cline. For her, it was a whim at first.

"I bought the car knowing nothing," she said. "I had never changed a tire, never changed oil."

Now she's rebuilding engines. "This is the project that I'm working on right now. It's a 1960 Ford Falcon."

Cline once had visions of medical school. And now, "my dream is to one day own my own garage," she said.

Rachel De Barros is a mechanic currently building four cars. Her favorite? "A '51 Ford F-1. How can you not have a Sanford & Son truck! I mean, it's awesome!"

As for crew chief Kellie Colf: "A '68 Firebird. I will never part with it, not ever. I will be buried in that car."

As they blaze a trail, they deal with stereotypes.

"'Oh, so your man is letting you drive his car. How special!' And little do they know I've done all the work myself, and really (whispers), 'It's my car!'"

"I've gone so far at various times in the past as to have a license plate that says HERS," said Colf.

The completed Mustang is also defying gender roles.

"Everybody thinks if a woman's gonna customize a car, it's gonna be pink, it's gonna be cute," said De Barros. "We like to build some pretty bad monsters as well! And I'd like not to put some fuzzy dice on there."

"Underneath, they've got themselves nearly a race car," said Colf, "and nobody's going to be expecting that"

Someone's about to find out. The Mustang sold at auction this week for $46,000, and the money is going to a scholarship fund to help future designers -- men and women.

  • Priya Clemens

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