The Volvo PV544 may not be the most recognisable of Gothenburg’s models, overshadowed by its Amazon and P1800 contemporaries as well as the boxier later models. But the ’60s fastback is being given a new lease of life thanks to Girl Gang Garage, a network of women dedicated to increasing gender diversity in the automotive industry.

The group has been working on Iron Maven, a custom 1961 PV544 due to make its debut at this year’s SEMA Show on November 2. Now, the project is kicking into a higher gear through a collaboration between Volvo Car USA and Girl Gang Garage founder and leader Bogi Lateiner – part of the former’s aim to increase its number of female technicians in its retail network through accelerated training programmes for current technicians, recent graduates and military veterans.

With the support of Volvo, the team is fitting this Phoenix, Arizona barn find with modern tech from the S60 Recharge T8 Polestar Engineered. These include the 415 hp 2.0 litre twin-charged plug-in hybrid powertrain, Öhlins suspension, vehicle control systems and even the Sensus infotainment system.

Iron Maven is the third all-female build by Girl Gang Garage and its most complex to date. The largest build of its kind, it involves more than 150 women from around the world. The group is also receiving assistance from the Volvo Cars Technical Support team in the United States and Sweden on select component and system integration. The PV544 will receive major modifications, custom 3D-printed components, by-hand fabrication and technical analyses to ensure the car carries classic, current and forward-looking elements.

Both Volvo Cars and Girl Gang Garage are hoping to spark a change for women in the automotive industry and provide real and lasting career opportunities. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, women hold just nine per cent of automotive repair and maintenance positions, compared to an average gender split of 46% women employed in other industries.

To help address this inequality, Volvo is looking to increase the number of female service technicians and is offering a series of development programmes, scholarships, partnerships and other measures at its US training centres. This includes a 50/50 Gender Neutral Leadership Commitment in recruitment and promotions and a larger focus on supporting Volvo’s transition to a fully electrified lineup.

Girl Gang Garage, on the other hand, provides a range of year-round classes and events at its primary location in Phoenix along with a number of virtual and offsite sessions for all skill levels. These programmes, as well as as the Iron Maven project, are also related to technical, vocational and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning at schools.

“As we look toward the next decade, the automotive industry will see new technologies, embrace electrification, transform its approach to manufacturing and find innovative ways to connect with customers,” said Volvo Car USA president and CEO Anders Gustafsson.

“With these advancements, one of our biggest challenges will be developing a strong, diverse talent pipeline and an inclusive culture to support this transformation. Investing in programs that grow female and minority representation in automotive is critical to the future of our business at Volvo Cars, and the future of the automotive industry at large.”

Lateiner added, “Both cars in their original form are so unique and each carry their own legacy, and the amount of skill required by our female technicians to combine these two Volvos into one as ‘Iron Maven’ is nothing short of incredible.

“There are so many incredibly talented women in the industry and there is strong interest when people are given an opportunity like this to learn. It is wonderful to work with Volvo Cars to make this build not only a reality, but also a concrete example of what the power of women working together can make possible.”