HARRISON, ARKANSAS – Okay. Show of hands. How many of you out there can visualize a hedgehog? No? Don’t worry. Neither could I. Here. Check out this adorable little thing. That, my friends, is a baby hedgehog.
So what do hedgehogs have to do with our featured Motor Doll?
A lot actually. Chris Gibbany rescues them, raises them, adores them. At one point she had thirty, although now she’s down to a mere thirteen.
[quote]My kitchen is decorated in hedgehogs and I even had a motorcycle tank airbrushed with hedgehogs by the talented Dessa Blackthorn from Tattooz by Sassy.[/quote]
But raising hedgehogs isn’t the only thing that sets this car and motorcycle girl apart. There are tons of interesting facts about Chris, like she spends less than a hundred bucks a year on clothes, was the best extreme couponer in the nation, has no television, makes her own cleaning products, doesn’t have kids by choice, gardens and–as an avid hunter–only eats meat from her kills. Chris even bucks the norm by steering clear of Facebook (and all social media for that matter). I could go on and on about her unique qualities.
But let’s get to what we all came for.
The Motor Doll stuff.
I started the Featured Motor Doll segment as a way to expand my horizons beyond the SoCal Car and Motorcycle Scene and see what girls around the world are doing. Thanks to a friend on the Motor Dolls Facebook Page, I learned about Chris, and had to know more.
You can’t miss Chris. She stands out in a sea of sameness, a pink and purple haired girl with a “beefy, bad-ass” taste in cars and motorcycles and a fashion sense all her own. The Motor Passion started as a kid, when her parents asked her Secret Santa to give her Hot Wheels instead of dolls–Camaros and Corvettes specifically–toys she still has to this day. Funny how when she grew up, the Hot Wheels grew up too.
While she’s owned three Corvettes and five Camaros, this ’78 Camaro Z28 is her passion car. How many people can say they still have a car they bought when they were 19? Chris can.
[quote]It has seen quite the transition in the 20+ years I have owned it. I started out wanting to take it to car shows but realized when you only make minimum wage, you really can’t compete against people who are rich.[/quote]
[quote]I then started drag racing it, mainly because a lot of people are scared to race, so that gave us the upper hand and the mechanical abilities of my husband allowed me to have a pretty quick car at the track. We have made the car into everything I have ever wanted. (Well, I mean it could NEVER be fast enough).[/quote]
Chris started a Camaro club in 2005…
…and was president through the entire run. She also became the Arkansas State Representative for the Worldwide Camaro Club, one of only five women. Currently, she is the State Representative of Chevy Classics.
Recently, though, Chris decided to branch out. In her first 40 years, she’d owned only Corvettes and Camaros. Not any more. She sold the Vette to her friend Dessa, and bought a Mopar, a 1974 Dodge Charger to be exact, which is currently being painted Plum Crazy Purple.
Clearly, cars have been a huge part of Chris’s life, but something else has stolen her heart as well.
[quote]My true love has always been the Camaro. Now it is hard to believe that my love for the bikes has pretty much taken over my life. I can say there is no greater feeling of freedom than when you ride… I think when I am driving I am able to look at how people are reacting to my car pounding the pavement but when I ride, I only care about the feeling I am getting, and how empowering that is.[/quote]
Chris has an impressive corral of bikes, all designed by her, and built with the help of her husband, like her 1981 Ironhead (recently featured in American Iron Magazine)…
… and her 1956 Panhead also built from Chris’s vision…
… and her latest, a 1939 Knucklehead she’s building in her living room, bought with the down-payment she’d saved for a bigger, better house. I think she made a wise choice, don’t you?
Chris doesn’t consider herself a mechanic, but her skills are impressive and still growing, fueled by a passion for learning.
[quote]”Although I built my 383 for my ’78 Z-28, and have hours upon hours working on the car–from sanding the body prepping it for paint, to installing almost everything on it–I still feel very amateur-ish and am only an apprentice… especially compared to my husband, who is an ASE master mechanic.”[/quote]
Certainly one way to push her wrenching skills to the next level, is to build a bike, something I’ve been messing around with myself with my Triumph project (although mine is more assembling than building). It may take a while for her to finish, but in the end, Chris will have an amazing machine she can proudly say she built with her own two hands, another fine addition to her fleet. And yes… all of these are her cars and motorcycles, not her husbands, not theirs. These are Chris’s babies. But that isn’t to say she and her husband Gabe don’t share the passion.
Working out of an old rabbit shack with a Home Depot jack holding up the roof, Chris and her husband Gabe create works of art out of vintage iron. They’ve dubbed this addiction “Boneyard Choppers,” and while they’re building motorcycles only for themselves at this point, they hope to someday build for others as well.
Riding vintage bikes, though, can be a challenge. I asked Chris about the difficulties kick-starting a big twin, since I’ve been slammed by that myself trying to start my ’77 Bonneville. There’s this whole romantic, bad-ass thing associated with kick starting a bike, but it’s pretty darn frustrating when you’re an independent girl, and a crowd gathers around to watch you kick your bike, and it doesn’t fire to life. I wanted to know Chris’s secret. While, she’s kick-started dirt bikes her whole life, she agrees kicking a big twin isn’t quite the same.
[quote]I built this bike [the Pan] not knowing how to kick start a big twin but it is not much different than when I bought my second Corvette. I couldn’t drive a standard so I bought a 4 speed Stingray so I would HAVE to learn, and guess what….I did![/quote]
She can kick-start Gabe’s ’49, but admits the freshly built ’56 Pan is a little tighter and she hasn’t yet perfected it. But she will. Her plan? Lots of core work, supplements, and determination. I have no doubt she’ll nail it.
You’ve heard the phrase you only live once, and that’s a truth Chris lives by. Worrying about what others think simply doesn’t matter.
[quote]”As long as you can fully OWN what you do, you will always be able to get away with it!”[/quote]
Chris is most definitely, getting away with it.
Keeping up with Chris:
- Chris is now the Arkansas representative for Global women who ride! Congrats Chris!
- If you’d like to learn more about her, check out her blog, “Amazing Cheap Life” where she chronicles living an awesome life with virtually no money.
- Want to know more about how motorcycles came into her life? Read it in her own words on Women Riders Now.
- How about a great 2014 Calendar for your wall? Check out Throttle Gals! Chris is Miss October!
- You can also keep up with her adventures on the website for her club, “Old Iron Never Dies,” a 25/25 club–meaning you have to be at least 25 to join and ride/drive anything 25 years or older to be eligible. Their motto: “Drive ’em, Don’t hide ’em” and “Ride ’em, Don’t hide ’em.” Her goal is to get the old iron out of people’s garages and onto the roads.
As you probably noticed, Chris has several tattoos–all motor-related–and all done by another fine Motor Doll, Dessa Blackthorn, owner of Tattooz by Sassy!
If you know of someone who would be great to feature, please drop me a line! And if you never want to miss a post, look over to the right column, and subscribe to the blog!
Until next time…