MTAI Apprentice living the dream

MTAI apprentice Callum McDougall is a lucky bloke. He says so himself. And it’s easy to agree with him. A couple of years ago, the then 18-year-old hit the jackpot when he walked into the office of Automotion – a workshop in Enoggera on Brisbane’s north side – to ask the owners, Cameron Wright and Chris Jordan, for a job.

He got it, and the very next day began his career in a place that would surely be nudging the #1 spot on any young mechanical apprentice’s ‘Places I’d Most Like To Work’ wish list.

And the reason? Automotion specialises in, well, the ‘special’.

From servicing new models from Ferrari, Lotus, Porsche and Alfa Romeo, to the repair and restoration of classic vehicles, Automotion focuses on the exotic and the exceptional.

“I looked at their website before coming out to see them and, to be honest, I thought there was no way they were going to hire me,” said Callum. “There were Ferraris and Lotuses everywhere!”

But employ him they did, and he is now getting the chance to work on a range of vehicles that represent more than 70 years of automotive evolution. It’s a fantastic educational opportunity, and working on the wide range of vehicles that straddles that era is something Callum enjoys.

“The older cars are easier to work on – they are a lot simpler – but what I really like about working here is that there is no repetition. No car is the same and I am challenged every day.”

Callum’s boss, Cameron Wright, is pleased with how he is coming along.

“He’s keen to learn, he tries really hard and he is a quick learner,” he said. “And he turns up to work on time and makes us coffee!

“Actually, we weren’t thinking about taking on an apprentice, but we decided to give him a go, and he is doing really well. We get him to work on everything, which means the Ferraris and the other exotic cars. That’s a pretty good apprenticeship.”

And that is a sentiment shared by Callum’s MTAI trainer Roger West, who also sees the value in working for a business with such a diverse range of vehicles coming through its doors.

“Callum is a very switched on and smart kid,” he said. “And he is lucky to be here. With the range of work that they get, Automotion is sort of unique. And that is the sort of thing that makes really good technicians.”

Founded by Cameron and Chris in 2007, the former Ferrari mechanics never intended Automotion to be involved in classic car restoration.

“When we started out we really wanted to specialise in the Ferraris, Alfas and the more exotic Italian cars,” said Cameron.

“But a lot of our customers have car collections and they started to bring in their classics. Then, word began to get around.

“We don’t take on restorations all the time but there are usually one or two jobs in the shop.”

One of those jobs is the restoration of an an E-type Jaguar. Recently arrived, and sharing the workshop floor with a Series I Sunbeam Rapier and an S Series Valiant, the iconic car is in a sorry state and the team have been tasked with getting it in tip-top shape mechanically.

“This is an interesting job because the engine is cast the same as an original E-type but it has modern internals,” said Cameron. “It’s essentially a custom engine that will look the same as a Jag original from the outside. It will be very fast and exotic.”

For Callum it will be another great learning experience. However, though he likes the Jag, it’s clear his heart lies with the prancing horse of Ferrari.

“I work with Chris mostly” he said. “That means I work a lot with Ferraris and Lotuses. And if I HAD to take one home, it would be the Ferrari 550.”