Mini restoration teen up for award

Mini marvel. Teenager Josh Smith and his Mini restoration project that is proving a hit on Youtube. EMN-180320-142223001
Mini marvel. Teenager Josh Smith and his Mini restoration project that is proving a hit on Youtube. EMN-180320-142223001

A Sleaford teenager is inspiring other youngsters to get their hands dirty doing something practical thanks to his series of Youtube videos on his restoration project of a classic Mini.

Josh Smith, 15, is restoring a 1988 Mini City E which he has funded himself, recording everything he does on YouTube and sharing his learning journey with the world.

Now he has been nominated for a Young Preservationist of the Year award from the Transport Trust.

Josh, of Bristol Way, says he set his sights on owning a classic Mini on visiting Sleaford Historic Car Show aged 12. “I fell in love with it,” said the St George’s Academy student.

As a trial run he renovated the rear of end of a Mini, turning it into a trailer. He taught himself to weld, grind down rough edges and install electrics, under dad’s supervision. “I just put my mind to it and do it,” he confessed.

With the proceeds of selling that he bought a complete Mini as a project, but found bodywork issues, opting to sell it on, doubling his money while keeping the parts and buying his current body shell in better condition.

Josh has been working on it since last summer, saying: “I started doing it up every other weekend around homework and school.

“I have finished the welding, have painted the base coat of red oxide and am nearly ready to repaint it.”

His Youtube channel has attracted 1,700 subscribers with fans donating money and parts.

Last year’s young award winner was a 19-year-old who rebuilt a plane. Josh is expecting a visit from a representative of the awards to interview him and inspect the work.

If Josh wins he gets £500 prize money.

None of his family are in the motor trade and he hopes to train to be an electrician on leaving school. He said: “I have comments on Youtube from people saying I am an inspiration and wishing their grandchildren would try something like this. A 13-year-old has now got into doing cars after seeing me.”

Josh is partly doing it in honour of a family friend, Robin James, who died six years ago. Even his mum supports him. “Last summer she took me to a show and helped me carry a gearbox home,” he said.