Classic Car Lover Sydney Sweeney Reveals the Ritual Pit Stop She Shares with Her Dog Tank
The Euphoria star, who's headlining Ford's new "Built Ford Proud" campaign, tells PEOPLE her not-so-hidden talent for auto restoration stems back to her childhood days watching her family in the garage
Sydney Sweeney is shifting things into high gear!
The Emmy-nominated actress, who is best known for her roles on HBOMax's Euphoria and The White Lotus, enjoys fixing up fast cars in her free time — and now, she's made the hobby official.
As part of Ford Motor Company's new "Built Ford Proud" campaign, Sweeney (and her adorable dog, Tank) are telling all when it comes to their love for cruising down the Pacific California Highway and making a very important pit-stop along the way.
"What we did in the campaign is actually what I do on a daily basis with Tank," Sweeney, 25, exclusively tells PEOPLE. "We stop, we get ice cream."
Sweeney, a native of Spokane, Washington, was raised around cars, to the point where she says Ford is in her "DNA."
"My great grandpa's truck, his farm truck, was an old F100, and that's the car that I actually learned how to drive on. My mom would not let me drive an automatic until I turned 16!" she shares. "And my uncles and my cousins are all mechanics, and my mom is a huge car enthusiast, so I grew up watching them work on cars, seeing them in the shop."
"I never saw a girl do it, but I always was like, 'I want to do this,'" she adds.
Sweeney proves she's equal parts talk and action — her TikTok account Syd's Garage is where she chronicles herself actually doing the work on various vehicles (namely, her red 1969 Bronco, Cherry, and blue Mustang, Britney.)
The idea for the account, which has over 1.5 million followers, first struck Sweeney during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she says she became "obsessed" with car auction sites.
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She'd always wanted a Ford Bronco — her dream car — so eventually, she "pulled the trigger." As the actress recalls, "I was like, 'I'm going to do it. I am going to teach myself how to work on this car.'"
With Cherry secured, Sweeney needed a favor.
"My best friend's dad has a beautiful shop in California. And so I called him up and said, 'Hey, I want to work on this car. Can I have some space in your garage, and you teach me how to do everything?'" she explains.
The rest, says Sweeney, is history. Her friend's dad cleared out part of his shop for her and she started learning how to remodel and rebuild the Bronco — all while chronicling the experience for TikTok, of course.
"I feel like I have a special language with the car. I know what the different sounds are, if I need to check this or put a little gas here. You feel a connection to the car and to the vehicle," Sweeney says. "I think that knowledge is power and knowing how to work on your car is super empowering as a female driver, or just a young driver in general."
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Her success in refurbishing the Bronco has given her an immense sense of pride, she adds, and being able to "to drive [Cherry] down the PCH or even drive her in this campaign, I was really happy. It's a beautiful moment."
As part of the Ford campaign, which also features professional Stunt Driver Dee Bryant and Big Wave Surfer Kai Lenny, Sweeney will be kicking off an Auto 101 series on her TikTok to help demonstrate fundamental vehicle maintenance. She'll even be doing it in style: a female-forward workwear collection produced with Dickies is now for sale.
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And, as Sweeney literally sails down the road in the video, she shows no figurative signs of slowing down, either. She hopes her passion for cars and her work with Ford will inspire other women to pursue their own passions, no matter what they may be.
"I just hope that they're empowered to want to follow their dreams. If they want to learn how to work on a car, you can," she says. "And I'm hoping that other girls are encouraged to want to learn and want to just try things in what may feel like a male dominated space — and then take over."
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