When most people think about carburetors, old-school technology and a declining interest among younger enthusiasts could come to mind. Some people think that if you are not over the age of 60, knowing anything about carburetors is like voodoo magic. But that's not the case for a 17-year-old girl named Riley Schlick. Riley has operated her Florida-based business, Riley's Rebuilds, since 2019 and has quickly become the go-to rebuilder for carburetors, or "Queen of Carbs" as she's commonly referred to.
ARMO had a chance to catch up with Riley a few weeks back, after she had just completed her senior year of high school. We asked her what the future holds for not only her but also for Riley's Rebuilds.
Q: How did Riley's Rebuilds get started?
A: My parents said that I had to save up to buy my first car, and working a normal job at a place like Publix (a Florida-based grocery store chain) would have taken me forever to save up. So, my dad suggested that I start rebuilding stuff like carburetors to make better money. He said that it would be the hardest Lego puzzle ever!
Q: What did you get as your first vehicle?
A: 1995 Jeep Y/J with a manual transmission. It's what I drive every day to school.
Q: Do you have any other cars or trucks besides the Jeep?
A: I have a 1966 Ford Fairlane, but my family has a bunch of other vehicles. My dad has a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad wagon that he has had forever.
Q: You just finished High School. What's next?
A: I will be going to college in Connecticut and looking at studying mechanical engineering with maybe a minor in finance. I will still be able to do Riley's Rebuilds when I am away at college, as they are going to set some things up at the school for me.
Q: Once you finish college, what would your dream job be?
A: I would like to work on the business side of the automotive industry, or maybe on the marketing side.
Q: Tell us a little about Riley's Rebuilds?
A: Riley's Rebuilds is a total four girls, including myself, rebuilding carburetors in my parents' garage. I have been doing it for a little over three years now. We rebuild about 40 carburetors a month. We have a Shopify store that allows you to send in your Edelbrock carburetor core that we will completely rebuild and send back to you.
Q: Does Riley's Rebuilds do any other type of carburetors?
A: Yes! We offer both Autolite as well as Weber rebuilds, but our main business is Edelbrock carburetors. Edelbrock is like family to us. They have been a huge help and treated me so well.
Q: How were you able to get three other girls to work with you on carburetors?
A: I was not only able to give them the opportunity to make more money than they would have working other part-time jobs, but it also allows them the flexibility to have a better social life. I guess this was a win-win for them.
Q: How has the response been to you being so young and working on something from an older generation?
A: Most tell me I am amazing, and all the comments have been super positive and supportive. I think a lot of the older generation look at me like I am their granddaughter.
Q: We noticed from your social media pages that you had the opportunity to be on the All Girls Garage TV show. How was that experience?
A: Just amazing! Being able to meet everyone and see how everything works on a show like that was truly a blessing. Meeting all the girls on the show was such an experience. They are great role models to have.
Q: Will you be going to SEMA this year?
A: Yes! SEMA 2023 is happening for sure. I am excited to see everyone!
Q: Last question. If you could say one thing to the younger generation that are thinking about getting into the automotive hobby, what would it be?
A: Do it now! Hot rods are super cheap and easy to work on, and the aftermarket support for all type of vehicles is out there. Just jump into it.
Riley's Rebuilds is doing their part to keep restoration of carburetor-equipped vehicles alive. Although some may argue that modern EFI is a better choice for both classic and modern vehicles, the appearance and design of carburetors continues to enjoy popularity. Having the next generation of automotive enthusiasts embrace this can mean more options for future builds. Whether it is a daily driver, detailed show car or anything in-between, more choices mean better chances for our hobby to survive and thrive.
If you are looking to find out more about Riley's Rebuilds or if want to have your carburetor rebuilt by this amazing girl team, check them out on Instagram (@rileysrebuilds).