I'm thrilled to be here to talk cars with millions of readers - men and women.
In the coming weeks, I plan to fill you up with a wealth of valuable automotive knowledge, pique your curiosity and entertain you with informative, intriguing facts and stories fueled by lots of high-octane experience and heart. But who is Courtney Hansen?
Many of you know me from my time with Overhaulin', The Learning Channel's vehicle-makeover TV show. But for those of you who don?t know me, please allow me to introduce myself.
I grew up in a hardcore automotive family in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minn. Looking back at childhood photos the other day, I noticed that in most of them I'm driving boats, cars, trucks, motorcycles, motorhomes, golf carts, go-carts, snowmobiles and just about anything with an engine.
My dad, Jerry Hansen, owned Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway and is the winningest Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) driver in history with 27 national titles. He and my supportive mother instilled confidence in my brother Frans, sister Jordyn and I by letting us drive all sorts of vehicles very early in life . . . as kids. We all grew really passionate about cars and are pretty savvy street drivers with Jordyn and I defying the typical "women drivers" stereotype. A big part of this passion is innate. It's in the Hansen blood, for sure, but our upbringing certainly helped foster our enthusiasm.
My dad is all business with an intense drive to win at everything he does. My mom is friendly, fun and wildly creative. I?m cut right down the middle. Education and subsequent career success are important to me (I have a marketing degree) and I always devoted about half my time to modeling, acting and writing as a way of scratching my creative itch.
During my high school years in Naples, Fla., (we moved away from Minnesota when I was 12), I began merging work with the auto world as a spokeswoman for Dodge, appearing in 22 TV commercials.
Later, I moved to Los Angeles, Calif., to pursue my on-screen career . . . with no friends, family, a car or money.
A position as a spokeswoman for Rolls-Royce followed, and soon after I joined Overhaulin'. Rather than simply host the show, I dove in and learned the trade, getting dirty while working on the cars alongside all the guys. It was a blast and incredibly gratifying to be accepted and supported within this male-dominated industry where I actually discovered zero -- as in none -- chauvoinism. Additionally, I hosted "Rides" and "Million Dollar Motors," two other TLC automotive shows.
Last year, FHM Magazine agreed to feature my campy-yet-informative "Garage Girl" automotive advice column. Quickly realizing how much more I have to say about cars, coupled with the fact that there are few, if any, books geared for women, I set out to fill an obvious need. "The Garage Girl's Guide to Basic Car Ownership & Maintenance" is aimed at women and first-time car buyers and will be released this summer. And because my love of fashion is as potent as my infatuation with cars, I'm designing a clothing line of garage wear.
If that wasn't enough, every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sunday from 12 a.m. to 2 p.m., I host Spike TV's auto-related "Power Block." I really want to embrace the female viewers there as well. After all, men aren't the only ones who adore their cars, right?
Since our cars say a lot about us, let me quickly tell you about mine. They ranged from a Chevrolet Camaro to a series of sport-utility vehicles and BMWs during college. After two years with a Volkswagen Passat, I needed something that better reflected my personality. My dad proposed that he should pick my next car. I reluctantly agreed, trying to sway him in the direction of an old muscle car, maybe even a '57 Thunderbird. Of course he assured me that I needed something new, reliable and L.A. safe.
A couple of months later, after an episode of Overhaulin,' designer Chip Foose drove into the garage in a gorgeous, tricked out, black 2004 Ford Thunderbird that he said was a gift from my dad. I was in tears.
The "sexy shark" (which is exactly what she looks like) was all mine. The plan now is to someday put a '57 T-Bird alongside the '04 in my garage. And there will even more after that to be sure, not to mention many more columns a ton of topics I'm fired up to bring you.