Youngsters give a battered MG Midget a new lease of life

Restoring a classic car can be a challenge too far for even some of the most practical enthusiasts and technicians out there, so when the second Mechanix course announced its plan to revive a tired old MG Midget, it would be an experience they would never forget, which you can see in our gallery here.

Cue Autumn 2015, and the original Mechanix club run by Prospex Youth Club in North London, with the support of Hyde Housing Association, Haynes Manuals and Draper Tools, unveiled their finished article.

The 1969 MG originally arrived in British Racing Green and left the workshop adjoined to Ringcross Community Centre in Islington in Prospex Orange. It was just an inkling of the work, dedication and of course surprises this small sports car held for the seven young people.

J Haynes, Chairman of Haynes Publishing and Patron of the youth club, said: “It is a fabulous achievement and it takes dedication and commitment, and all the participants should be really proud of themselves. Whether or not they go on to be a mechanic or not, the experience, the dedication and the hard work that will stand them in good stead.”

The young people faced a number of challenges including restoring and servicing the engine, removing, welding and fabricating new panels and finishing off with priming and painting the Midget. In return, the youngsters managed to give this classic car a new lease of life and picked up a couple of qualifications in recognition for their endeavours.

The seven participants received a certificate for their personal and social development and an EdExcel BTEC unit for Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Operations, while two more young people undertook a four-week intensive course bringing a R-reg Ford Fiesta up to MOT standard.

Adam Ziani, one of the latest participants, said: “It was a good experience for me as I want to drive a car in the future and if anything was to go wrong I would know how to address that. The first time we saw the car we couldn’t believe it. We were thinking how are we going to finish it, but we said yes we are going to finish this, we have to finish this and see it as a finished product.”

Ubaida Ahmed said that it was a ‘disturbing’ sight seeing the car in the workshop the first time, but actually found the whole process enjoyable, adding:

“It was amazing, working with my friends on a car, and coming two to three times a week was fun. We have nothing to do, so coming to Mechanix was good fun after we got in it.”

When CAT attended the grand unveiling of the MG Midget, there have been several bids for the car at around £2500, with Prospex keen to sell the car to fund future projects and equipment, while charity CEO Richard Frankland explained that the MG Midget had a closer affinity to him and the club than just a classic restoration.

“I was given the Midget by a friend who emigrated to Canada seven or eight years ago and it was sat in somebody’s garage rusting away. After the success of the first project, we thought why don’t we step it up and try something more difficult. We got the car here and it was a challenge, we thought it was never going to happen, especially within the ten weeks, but it offered everything we needed.

“You can do a complete service on the car, and you can take the whole bonnet off and get a whole group around the car so everyone can see what is going on, so for teaching it was really good.

“The bodywork was not so good, but it taught other skills, so they all had a go at welding and it really inspired them. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on it, even making the cardboard templates and transferring that to the metal for cutting out, they enjoyed all of it. Some of the bits were quite complex, the bits we had to fabricate and weld, but they absolutely loved it. From putting the mask on and going for it and having a go and seeing the end result was fantastic.”

For Lucy Abbott one of the first participants it was an opportunity to mentor the next group, and gain her Peer Mentoring ASDAN qualification, while Frankland is hoping to recruit another mentor from the current crop of trainees as well.

The Mechanix course, originally the brainchild of Haynes, is now entering its third iteration through Prospex, and there are plans to roll out the scheme nationwide with interest from Doncaster, the Midlands and Hampshire.

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