Alhambra High School “Underdog” Team Takes Ford Design Award

A team of aspiring automotive technicians from Alhambra High School worked together to transform a 1972 Ford Maverick with assistance from world renowned actor Sung Kang. Kang created “Project Underdog” as an innovative approach to mentor students that have a passion for cars and automotive technology. The Project Underdog Team of Tony Chen, Alexis Hernandez and Christian Quiroz from Alhambra High School went on to win Ford‘s Special Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Design at the 2016 SEMA Show. 


“If I were a car, I would be the Maverick,” said Kang, who first drove the Maverick in Fast & Furious Five in Brazil. “The Maverick has always been underappreciated, overlooked and undervalued, the underdog.” But those who love her are loyal forever. This and the chance to make a difference for these students is something I can stand behind.”


“Kang’s Project Underdog is, at its heart, designed to promote youth outreach and inspire the next generation to become future enthusiasts and pursue automotive careers,” said Mike Spagnola, SEMA VP of OEM & Product Development Programs. “Our SEMA programs are simply the right fit for this team project that will prove the underdog can win big and benefit our community.”


Kang oversaw the project while students worked in tandem with industry veterans to restore and completely rebuild the vehicle and turn it into a beautiful, award-winning machine. The completed vehicle will be auctioned off to raise money for the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Foundation, which provides financial support to students pursuing careers in the automotive industry. “This amazing opportunity provided Alhambra High School students to take their technical skills learned from Automotive Technology and apply them in real-life experiences, working alongside the expertise in the automotive industry,” shares Judy Huffaker, Alhambra Unified School District Career Technical Education Specialist.


“The car community has always saved a seat for me at the table and I’ve made a lot of friends who are legends in their own right,” Kang continued. Among those friends is award-winning builder Steve Strope, also served as a mentor to the three Alhambra High School students, who were specifically selected from the Southern California area for the project. The unveiling of the re-imagined 1972 Ford Maverick at SEMA Show 2016 was a culmination of hard work, dedication and passion for automotive technology. The final build, was supported by Shell, featuring Pennzoil, Ford Motor Company, Samsung, NITTO, GReddy, Rocket Bunny and Facebook.