In the second Spotlight of the HERO2HELP StarterMotor ‘Apprentice Lifeline’ campaign, we feature an absorbing blog written by a talented apprentice who loves historic vehicles, determined to make her way in the industry; A motorcycle rider, she is restoring her own Mitsubishi – meet Ashley Carr.
My name is Ashley Carr (yes, ironic surname). I am 23 years old and have been an apprentice at Gentry Restorations for just over a year where we work on vintage/pre-war Bugatti’s.
Working at Gentry Restorations, I’m constantly learning new things and I always have guidance if asked or needed. One of my first jobs was to assess a Bugatti type 44, which is in original condition, to see what work needed doing to it. Another job was to get a type13 ready for the international rally in Ireland. Every car is unique as they were made by hand which means each car is different and a new learning curb, this also means that the parts can’t just be brought so we have to make a lot of the parts ourselves- these are some of the skills I am learning. I have learnt lots of things like doing full servicing, checking engine timing and welding.
I always get asked how I got into car as its not common for girls which is a shame. One reason is because my godmother has hot rods and was involved in shows which she would take me to at places like Silverstone, Santa pod and Old Warden. Another reason is that both my dad and my brother are into cars and they have motorbikes so as soon as I could reach the pegs I would ride pillion; my mum had no choice in the matter when I decided to get my own motorbike at 16. Mostly I love the look of older classic cars, personally I think they have so much more character then a lot of modern-day cars, everything from the curves of the body work to the smell of petrol and old leather. I love most hot rods and my favourite classic car is a Chevy impala 1967 or a Chevy Bel Air 1957 as I love wings and shape.
I would like to keep improving and expanding on everything I have and will learn. In the future I would like to expand into paint work and fabrication, I would like to stay in the car industry more so with classic cars, but I would really like to work on different types of vehicles including hot rods.
When I left school, I went to college to do art and design for 2 years I went on to do 2 years of light vehicle mechanics on modern cars where I learnt the basics this did confuse a lot of people.
In my spare time I do enjoy working on cars at home occasionally with either my brother or friends as I have a Mitsubishi GTO that I want to get on the road. I do have interests other than mechanics; I like to do dance at least twice a week to keep fit and again meet with friends. I love art and I have been doing hand glass engraving for a few years now, I give as gifts, but I do take requests from family friends most common for wedding glasses.
I have worked in retail and doing front of house at a track day driving experience venue however I always found myself wanting to work on the cars so I decided my future was going to be about cars and learning as much as I can. I must admit, I do enjoy the reactions and shock I get from people when I tell them what I do for a living.
Being in a very male dominant industry it can be intimidating, and you do feel you have to prove yourself sometimes however I have gain so much confidence and at my work everyone gets treated the same. I worked as a service advisor and even though I was a qualified mechanic some people didn’t believe what I said, and I had to get a male mechanic to say the same thing. Saying this, people are becoming so much more open minded with women becoming mechanics and engineers in all industries.
I think it’s so important that companies hire apprentices especially in the classic and vintage car world to pass down skills to new generations. With certain jobs you need to make specialist tools and need to have a clear idea of what you are doing. These things would be lost without people to pass the skills on to and if there is not, a lot of vehicles would be lost in the past as no-one would be able to fix or restore them.
I know how hard it is to get into this industry and most importantly be taken seriously but I have met lots of people that are willing to help not only me but anyone that shows real interest- with people like this, these vehicles will carry on being a part of our future. I truly recommend that more women interested in vehicles to just go for it and don’t let anyone tell you different.