MTI apprentice Callam Roberts has recently returned from a month-long trip to Japan where he worked with technicians from Red Triangle to adapt some original Alvis classic cars. Alvis manufactures its 4.3 litre in-line six-cylinder engine from the original 1936 drawing, maintaining its period character while introducing modern technology and ensuring that it is emission compliant. The Alvis engine has an overhead valve mono-block construction with a 92mm bore x 110mm stroke giving it a capacity of 4387cc delivering powerful acceleration.
Callam told us about his journey to secure his dream job in an industry he has always loved. He said, “From my earliest years, I was always interested in cars and motorbikes. I am told by my mum that my first word was ‘car’. Both my dad and grandad were keen on bikes and cars too and we have been visiting events all over the country together ever since I can remember.
“As a family, we never had much money, so have never owned a classic or collectable car. It’s my ambition to be able to build a car that I can take to shows with friends and family as often as possible.
“After leaving school, I started a Level 2 Motorcycle Maintenance apprenticeship which was great, but it was extremely hard to get work experience in the motorbike sector especially as the larger dealerships tend to want someone who is experienced. I managed to achieve my qualification by helping out in a motorbike breaker’s yard two days a week.
“I then moved on to a Level 2 course in classic car restoration. This wasn’t quite right for me because it didn’t involve enough of the mechanical aspects so I spent as much time as I could job hunting, sending off my CV to automotive companies, and looking for another apprenticeship that would take me to the next level in my career.
“My application to the Jaguar Land Rover apprenticeship programme was unsuccessful but I kept looking and after two or three months, I came across an apprenticeship with Red Triangle in Kenilworth which has provided parts and restoration to Alvis cars for over 50 years. I sent in my CV and the manager called me straight away. I knew exactly where the job was based because I go past the showroom when I visit my nan’s house. I had always wanted to look inside as there was always something interesting to see through the windows.
“I felt that the interview went well and a few days later, I was invited to go in for a tour of the showroom and workshop and to meet the team. The manager Alan had been speaking to my college tutor from when I completed the motorbike course, and a few days later, I was offered an apprenticeship.
“I asked for a couple of weeks to finish the classic car course that I had started so that I could add an extra qualification to my CV and not waste the months I had spent at college. Red Triangle were happy to wait and so I started my new apprenticeship a week after my 18th birthday. I have mild autism, ADHD and Asperger’s but this isn’t as noticeable when I am around cars and bikes because I am distracted by something I can concentrate on.
“I really enjoy working at Red Triangle. Alvis cars are brought in from all around the world to be restored and I have been learning all the traditional mechanical techniques working on cars with fantastic high torque engines and very few electrical elements.
“The work we do takes time as no two cars are the same and the bodywork is hand built which can become an issue when you are trying to access a hidden nut or bolt. It is not a simple remove and fit process because each part needs altering or machining to fit perfectly. We might have to create a copper fuel line for a 90-year old car and there is no auto data or workshop manual to help because there might be only two or three like it left in the world. Tasks can be as simple as fitting a light bulb, or as complex as removing and rebuilding an engine and gearbox, or a carrying out complete restoration starting with the frame.
“I find that learning about the cars and how to fix them is easy here as the people I work with are so knowledgeable and we have specialist equipment on hand that has been designed purely for these cars. I am continuing with my studies and attend the MIRA Technology Institute on a day release basis where we have access to state-of-the-art workshops as well as high-tech classroom spaces. I am currently completing a Level 2 Light Vehicle apprenticeship.
Callam’s assessor at the MTI, Wayne Grewal, said, “Our apprentices get to work with some fantastic companies, and this was a great opportunity for Callam. He has overcome his ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder to become a fantastic apprentice. Callam is very bright and so precise in his work. He is an asset to Alvis and looks set to progress well there.”
Alan Stote, CEO, Owner and Managing Director of Red Triangle said, “Callam has shown a real commitment to his work at Red Triangle – his positive attitude has made him popular with both management and colleagues alike.”