Breaking barriers

pHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Chenee Ang CHENEE Ang is a graduate of AAP’s Motorsports Development Program.

Better known as CheeneeHazel on social media, Chenee Hazel Ang is a 27-year-old car enthusiast who runs a YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok channel where she talks about her project cars, her forays into amateur racing, and what it’s like driving and owning second-hand cars. She’s become somewhat of a regular fixture in the local car scene, what with her love of cars and her amateur racing exploits earning her recognition from within the community, painting the traditionally male-dominated hobby with a female flair.

So where did it all start? She credits her younger brother’s interest in cars as the catalyst for her own, and it’s been over a decade since her journey started.

With the condition that she choose a college in Quezon City, her parents allowed her to buy and own her first car. Her request for a manual transmission AE86 Toyota was shot down by her mom who thought that an automatic transmission would better serve her daughter.

Enter a used Mini Clubman that had 7,000 kms on the odometer, purchased through the premium used car program of Mini.

the 1979 Mitsubishi Lancer that Chenee labels as her ‘apocalypse car’.

Chenee said it didn’t make sense to have an automatic AE86, but an automatic Mini Clubman was spot-on and had enough girly charms to keep the vibe she was going for.

While studying in Ateneo de Manila, Chenee ended up joining fellow motorhead students in the Atenean Car Enthusiasts organization, where everyone’s passion for cars rubbed off on her.

Chenee’s interest in old-school rear-wheel drive cars led her to take a leap of faith and undertake the rehabilitation of a Datsun 240Z as her first proper project car.

A tall order even for capable car enthusiasts, Chenee came into the car scene as “the girl with the Z.” She acquired the help of fellow motorheads to put the custom build together and it took some time for the Datsun to resurface, but when it did, it was a proper custom car.

It was part 240Z, part Skyline GT-R, and part Nissan Silvia, but it was all style and substance.

Chenee is also a graduate of the AAP’s Motorsports Development Program and soon used the 240Z on the track. An impressive feat considering the advanced level of driving skill required to drive a high-horsepower, rear-wheeled vehicle.

Unfortunately for the Z, a rained-out race mishap a couple of years ago ended its driving and racing days.

This, however, didn’t deter Chenee from advancing her racing skills. She later acquired a semi-race-prepped EG Honda Civic hatchback which she describes as something she could thrash. She wasn’t a fan of front-wheel drive cars, but the EG Civic is still a tried and tested race platform with easily accessible parts.

She continued to race and drive the Civic, even as it underwent a couple of changes itself, including a blown engine and a switch to a Honda B18B engine. When the pandemic hit, Chenee was entrepreneurial enough to rent out the car to her network of race pals as a teaching car.

Meanwhile, she still had an itch for something old school and rear-wheel drive, so she decided to scour the Facebook marketplace.

With the savings she got from renting out the Civic, Chenee was able to acquire a 1979 Mitsubishi Lancer coupe.

Popularly called a “bar-type” Lancer, the red old-timer runs a 4G33 1400cc engine with a single Weber 40 carburetor. It only gets five kilometers to the liter, but Chenee doesn’t mind much as it currently satiates her craving for old-school metal.

She fondly calls it her “apocalypse car” as it’s proven to be very reliable, starting up right away even when it’s been parked for a good amount of time.

The downside of the 44-year-old car though is that it’s just too stiff of a ride for her mom, so Chenee was off to find something more modern and comfortable.

Fast forward to today, where we find Chenee with her 1996 EK3 Civic hatchback equipped with a D15 engine, an automatic transmission, great air conditioning, and a comfortable interior.

She acquired this with all the required left-hand drive conversion work completed by the previous owner, so aside from needing a newer set of wheels and tires (it currently wears the EG Civic’s wheels), plus some suspension replacements, it’s good to go as a daily driver.

Chenee’s inroads into being a digital content creator started innocently enough when she decided to just film one of her drives home in the Lancer. After discovering it had garnered 180,000 views in a short amount of time, friends urged her to keep producing content.

the 1979 Mitsubishi Lancer that Chenee labels as her ‘apocalypse car’.

Chenee’s YouTube channel is a great place to start if you’re interested in checking out her reviews. Her videos are well-produced and feature great footage of the cars she’s reviewing. Some of her most popular videos include tours of car shows and in-depth reviews of specific models.

She has a great ability to connect with her audience as she often shares personal anecdotes and experiences while reviewing a car, making her reviews feel more like conversations with a friend than dry technical analyses. She said that she keeps her thoughts honest, and “you find what you like and what you don’t like you just repeat it on camera.”

Although our local car scene has long been a boys club, with female interest often overlooked or dismissed, many women share an equal passion for cars and automotive culture.

Women should feel welcomed into this community, and able to express their love of automobiles without fear of being judged or excluded due to gender.

Chenee admits that there is a gender card that makes it easier in terms of marketing herself and what she does. Of course, it helps that she’s surrounded and supported by friends who are deeply involved in the scene and who are ready to provide her with a treasure chest of knowledge and experience.

She also accepts that it’s been a long road of “faking it til you make it” but admitting there are things she doesn’t know, and asking questions is indispensable in expanding one’s knowledge.

Chenee is one of those who have broken through the barriers and shown that women can be just as passionate about cars as men.

She shares her experiences on social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok but at the same time emphasizes that it’s about cars and driving and that she was never one to wave around a “girl power” flag.

Even though the street car culture is traditionally dominated by men, female participation is more essential than ever — and Chenee’s story should encourage others to take part in this vibrant culture.

Find out more about Chenee Ang through her social media accounts.

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