Caroline Kidd used to play with toy cars as a child. Now, she plays with real ones. As one of very few Irish women with a voice in the motor industry, Caroline writes about cars, reviews them and drives them on camera for her YouTube channel, ChangingLanes.ie.
Caroline remembers her own “motoring nirvana”, swinging her Peugeot 205 into fourth gear, and more recently, the excitement she got from her experience behind the wheel of an Audi R8 V10 Plus.
Kidd has a message for other women who want to be a part of the motor industry too. “Dig deep” she says, because the motor industry is “poorer without us”.
- What first sparked your love of cars?
I think I was born with a love of cars! I remember playing with toy cars when I was young. I moved onto video games like Gran Turismo and Colin McRae Rally in my early teens and around the same time I started reading car magazines, which grew my knowledge vastly. It was only in my teens that I realised that it wasn’t exactly mainstream for a girl to be into cars.
What was your first car?
A Volkswagen Golf. I’ve had this car for eight years now. We’re quite emotionally involved at this stage so goodbye would be tough.
Do you agree with modifying cars?
It’s not something I’m into myself but as long as it’s safe and legal, I’m ok with it.
What is your favourite car memory?
Learning to drive. I learnt to drive in a Peugeot 205 with no power steering, a heavy clutch and four gears. I was still too young to legally drive on the road so I did laps around a field instead. It was my first taste of being behind the wheel and I loved it. The first time I had enough speed up to swing the 205 into fourth gear, I felt like I’d landed in motoring nirvana.
Are you interested in motorsport? If so, which types?
Yes, I like Formula 1 and rallying.
What would be in your dream three car garage?
This is difficult! But if I had to make a decision today here’s what I’d go for: BMW M6 Gran Coupé because I need a big, fast, luxury car for cruising; a Ford Fiesta ST because I need something small and nimble; and an Audi R8 V10 Plus. I drove one briefly a few weeks ago and I still get shivers thinking about what happened when I gave the accelerator some welly.
What made you want to set up your own blog, talking about and reviewing cars?
My background is in journalism so writing about cars comes quite naturally to me. I looked around and I didn’t see many young female voices like mine writing about cars in Ireland so I thought there was an opportunity to set-up something a little more alternative. It’s also a serious outlet for me to express myself, something I’ve always enjoyed doing through writing and now I’m enjoying doing that in front of the camera too. At the end of the day I’m just another car fan so my biggest motivation to keep the blog going week after week is my love of cars, a desire to share that with the world, and also use the blog as a starting point to have conversations about cars with other car fans.
What do you do when you aren’t working on your blog?
Usually more writing! I do freelance writing and PR for business clients, and I also help people set up their own blogs. In my spare time I like spending time with family and friends, reading, getting outdoors to recharge, and I volunteer with an animal welfare shelter.
What is your favourite driving song?
Lana Del Rey’s ‘Ride’. The movement and cinematic highs of the song put me behind the wheel when you’re driving alone at night on the motorway and all you can hear is the hypnotic whish of the tyres against the tarmac. I like the sentiment of the song. You can interpret it in different ways but for me it’s about getting in the car, leaving your problems behind, getting ‘lost’ with your thoughts on the open road, and just going with the flow of life.
Do you think there are barriers to girls getting involved in the car industry? What are the barriers?
I think most of the barriers come from within; I don’t think the motor industry has a big guy at the door saying that we cannot enter. I think the only barriers are the ones we put on ourselves: the self-limiting beliefs and negative conversations we have internally that stop us from pursuing something we’re interested in.
At the same time, I don’t think the motor industry is exactly encouraging us to enter either. It has a pretty abysmal track record when it comes to women: the idea that a woman might want to drive something other than an MPV or small hatchback doesn’t seem to exist if you look at the way cars are advertised; there’s the archaic way some sales staff will deal with a woman when she walks into the dealership on her own; the not unfounded female mistrust of the car service industry – I still dislike trips to the garage when something goes wrong with my car.
Then there is the positioning of women by the motor industry. Women are still used as promotional tools at international motor shows in modern, cosmopolitan European cities, while the place bustles with men in suits. Along the same lines, there is a sleazy, creepy element to a lot of motorsport events – half-clothed women while the men get on with the business of cars and racing. It’s no wonder the motor industry can seem like a very inhospitable place for a young woman. Positioning of women in this way implies that cars, especially fast ones, are for men. The biggest psychological barrier to overcome is finding the motivation, confidence, self-belief and ‘no fear’ attitude to join something when you look in and you don’t see yourself reflected back. But do dig deep for it because the motor industry is poorer without us!
To read more about what Caroline likes in a car and whether she thinks supercars are worth a five figure sum, check out her blog at: http://www.changinglanes.ie/.