13 Questions for Frances Farnam
By Douglas McColloch
This month, a change of pace as we spotlight a newcomer to the world of custom car building. Meet Frances Farnam, age 13, who explains the origins of her upcoming project. “It started with me saving up money for my first car. I picked grapefruit and veggies from our garden and sold them through a local farmer’s market, and I saved up enough money to buy my first car, a ’76 Porsche 914.” Not content to simply build a Porsche from the ground up, she also plans to electrify it and display it at SEMA Electrified during this year’s SEMA Show. While she acknowledges the build won’t be complete by November, she aims to have it finished by the time she can legally drive it, and in the meantime her project can be followed at her You Tube channel, Tinkergineering.
Farnam recently stopped for a visit at the SEMA Garage, where Director of Vehicle Technology Luis Morales gave her a tour of the facility, which included a crash course in CAD design. With only a few minutes of instruction, she got to work creating a digital profile of her 914 using one of the Garage’s FaroArms (pictured left). We chatted with her for a few minutes, to learn more about this build and about this unique individual.
SEMA News: Describe your background. How long have you been working on cars?
Frances Farnam: This is actually the first car I’ve worked on, but I’ve been making things my entire life. I started out with wiring things, and also some craft stuff, so that’s how I got started.
SN: What inspired you to attempt an EV conversion?
FF: I knew that I wanted an electric car because gas is really expensive, and also because the future is obviously going toward EVs.
SN: Why this vehicle?
FF: I really like the 914, particularly the headlights because they pop up and when they do, they look super-funny, and that’s a great part of its appeal. Also, the 914 community is a great group of people. I’ve been lucky to be welcomed into this amazing automotive community.
SN: What do you anticipate being the most challenging part of the build?
FF: Believe it or not, the most challenging part of this is actually having to film it because filming the build will take a lot longer to do the work. When you’re turning wrenches and then you have to narrate an intro about it, the work takes twice as long to do.
SN: Which part of this process are you most looking forward to?
FF: I’m looking forward to installing the interior because it’s going to be fun to actually sit in my car in an actual seat.
SN: What would you like to have completed in time for the 2022 SEMA Show?
FF: By the time of the Show, I intend to have all of the EV components laid out for fitment. Then they’ll be removed so the car can be painted, then reinstalled afterward.
SN: If you could own any other car in the world, what would it be?
FF: The 914 would be my dream car because I think it reflects my personality really well.
SN: Why is this important to you?
FF: I really want to inspire other kids my age to get out there and do what they want to do. That’s why I’m filming the build for Tinkergineering.
SN: Looking ahead, what do you see yourself doing after you’ve graduated from high school?
FF: I’m not completely sure since I’m still so young, but I hope to keep inspiring people, whether it’s through this project or other projects like it.
SN: When you’re not building things, where can we find you?
FF: I love to read, so I’d be at the library from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. I love fiction, particularly fantasy fiction.
SN: What are your thoughts on attending the SEMA Show? What do you expect from it?
FF: I’m really excited about it. I’m expecting to meet a lot of people there, so while I’m a little nervous, I’m also looking forward to it.
SN: Who do you follow on social? Got any favorite influencers or mentors you’d like to call out?
FF: I don’t spend much time on social media, but there are a lot of people who have been mentors to me: Matt and Mark from 914 Rubber, the 914World community, Jorge and Jenna at Sierra Madre Collection, Michael Bream from EV West, John at EspoResto, who taught me how to weld, Laurina at Women In Porsche, Eric at PMB, Dave at Coast Airbrush, and Ryno @Rynotmt. All of these people are super-amazing!
SN: What’s on your playlist? What are you listening to these days?
FF: A lot of TV soundtracks. “Stranger Things,” Season 4 just came out, and volume 2 is coming out soon, so I’m very excited about that.