Elise got her Rover for $2,000 cash just after her 16th
birthday—despite her parents hoping she’d buy something more
practical. But the fact that it needed serious work was part of
the draw. For nearly a decade, Elise has painstakingly restored
every inch of the car. There isn’t a single system, feature or
corner she hasn’t tinkered with or upgraded.
Through hours of intense and intimate work, Elise has formed a
bond with her Rover. When she’s not fixing it up, she’s taking
it out to explore California’s mountains, beaches and deserts.
To most, a car is just a car, but for Elise, it’s her personal
obsession, source of community, daily driver and adventure
companion. She keeps it alive, and in turn, it takes her where
she wants to go.
Broken gaskets, aging braking systems, busted transmissions.
These are promises of genuine fun to be had. For as long as she
can remember, she’s loved fixing old things. The satisfaction
comes from figuring out a problem and solving it with her hands.
As a kid, that meant dismantling and rebuilding rotary phones or
typewriters she’d beg her mom to buy her from local antique
shops. After high school, it meant working as a restoration
mechanic on other people’s classic cars. Now, in her day job,
she’s moved from cars to rockets as an engineer at
SpaceX. On nights and weekends, it’s back to the
Whether she’s disassembling the engine to make repairs or
completely re-doing her gas tank, she relies on advice from an
extensive community: YouTube videos, online forums, real-life
advice from fellow auto enthusiasts and work sessions with
friends. Often, she’ll head to her friend’s shop to be around
others fixing up Porsches, Ferraris or race cars.
The group of people who revive classic cars is strong and
diverse. She connects with them daily on Instagram and goes to
car meet-ups at least once a month. These events come together
organically: one person posts a date and place, and the crowd
forms. People who have never met, instantly connected and bonded
over their shared love for breathing new life into old machines.
The projects never end, and that’s a good thing. Elise says she
craves the burst of satisfaction and confidence that comes with
a completed job. Currently, she’s in the process of re-doing the
interior, including the leather seat upholstery, removing and
cleaning the carpet, soundproofing and re-veneering the wood
Elise sees her Range Rover as a lifelong project. She has no
plans to give it up. Instead, she will continue to care for it
as needed: fixing, rebuilding and enjoying as she goes.