NASHVILLE, TN – It’d be great to declare that the automotive world is a judgment-free zone, but in reality, it’s a place mostly dominated by testosterone. You may not have noticed yet, but the “car guy” hobby has seen a shift toward “girl power,” and in that brave new world, Courtney Barber and her “Team Mustang Girls” is a growing force to be reckoned with.
Courtney Barber caught the automotive bug early. The youngest of three and the only daughter, her memories as a kid include the usual friends, school and parties – but are highlighted by the times spent hanging out with her dad inside the garage tinkering on the family cars.
She is a woman of many talents, having previously worked in fashion and real estate, but in the end she knew that her heart belonged to Mustangs. With nothing but an Ebay ad guiding her, she flew to the Midwest, cash in hand, and purchased a beautiful all-original 1965 Mustang to fill the void that she knew she had been missing in her life.
Working in the real estate industry while driving an A/C-less ’65 Mustang around in the South Carolina humidity, she admitted it wasn’t the most ideal vehicle for showing prospective buyers beachfront properties. (In fact, this ill-fitting choice of vehicle idea was reinforced by her boss on more than one occasion.) Worried with the rumblings in a faltering economy and the impending fall of the housing market, she decided to give up the business. Following the famous “love what you do and you will never work a day in your life” slogan, she followed her passion to a job at Stono Body Shop in nearby Charleston, SC, and hasn’t looked back. Other than giving her the opportunity to do what she loves on a daily basis, the company benefits package conveniently included wrench time on her own ’65 Pony.
With the help of shop owner Dave Mahan, who Courtney said acted as wonderful mentor, she got started on some of the more complicated upgrades, the first being an A/C compressor. Courtney was quick to point out that he only showed her the way with her doing the actual work, and having the ability to tinker and toy and learn along the way has done wonders for her skill set.
A few mechanical upgrades on her Mustang and a pink engine-block paint-job later, Courtney has turned her love of cars into a moving symbol for all female automotive enthusiasts. She has started “Team Mustang Girls,” which has quickly gained quite the following on Twitter, Facebook, and car blogs everywhere.
Team Mustang Girls has grown larger and more quickly than Courtney ever could have imagined. Being on the humble side, Courtney laughs and tries to downplay her role when people mention that she is starting a car-girl “movement” or that she is a role model for female car enthusiasts everywhere – yet she fully embraces the role.
Looking to destroy the automotive world’s car-guy stereotypes, she is now working hard to expand awareness of Team Mustang Girls. Some possibilities she is considering include moving from an internet-based presence to an actual car club, complete with shows, drive events and cruise-in’s; she is looking to give women gearheads an identity to rally behind.
Her Facebook page had garnered 5,000 “likes” in a short amount of time, and the group is quickly gaining traction as an active online community for female fans of the Mustang. To highlight some of the female owners in her group, Team Mustang Girls showcases one of these fans at the beginning of each week with a “Mustang Girl Monday” feature, which has been picked up by StangTV. Each post is packed with photos and a write-up of a female Mustang fan, highlighting the automotive passion that all types of women experience every day.
We got to meet up with Courtney in Nashville, TN, before she took off on another of her automotive rally adventures. We sat down at the hotel bar to discuss what type of trouble she and her honorary “Team Mustang Girl” and good friend, Sally, were looking to get into this time around. The journey at hand was The American Adventure, which was three-day rally from Nashville to Savannah.
Arriving at their hotel in the Country Music Capital of the world, the group had no clue what is in store for them. Their only knowledge is they would be leaving in the morning and ending up in Savannah on Sunday. The anticipation and excitement of what was in store for them was the major appeal, plus the format: A scavenger hunt/race based on points accumulated by solving clues, competing missions, and entering the most Facebook and Twitter posts.
The “missions” could be as simple as taking a picture in front of a famous landmark along the way, or as difficult as coming up with the most creative Halloween costume to wear out at the bar.
With close to 20 teams competing, the American Adventure featured an impressive mix of makes and models, and as you might imagine, even a variety of energetic personalities, which only added to the fun. Along with Courtney’s ’65 Mustang, the classics on hand ranged from her boss’s custom Rat Rod to a Range Rover, and all the way up to a Bentley.
Courtney had a good idea of what she was getting herself into with these kinds of events, having competed in several other similar outings. Her first big trip had her competing in the world-famous Bullrun Rally. Making the hike from South Carolina to the Pacific Coast and on up to Oregon, Courtney and her Mustang made friends along the way, even among the high-end supercar owners, over the 9,000 miles that she logged on her car’s inaugural rally.
When we asked her about the appeal of rally type events versus the standard Mustang shows, she was adamant that cars are meant to be driven and the United States has far too many scenic and historic roads that no one should miss out on. She admitted she enters these rallies without caring much about scoring points. To her, it is all about seeing the sights and making memories with friends. Often chastised form other BullRun participants for pulling over and taking photos of the views, landmarks or with friends, she quickly changed the minds of many and even convinced them that there is much joy in stopping every once and a while to enjoy the moment.
Courtney has leveraged her outgoing and fun-loving personality, along with her car knowledge, to turn her Mustang and Team Mustang Girls into a symbol for female enthusiasts everywhere. Planning to make the trip to Charlotte for the Mustang 50th Celebration to further promote Team Mustang Girls, Courtney is looking to help make 2014 the year of the “Mustang Girl.”
PHOTOS COURTESY COURTNEY BARBER / TEAM MUSTANG GIRLS