“Ever since I can remember I have loved cars. When I was 13 my parents bought me a 1969 Toyota Land Cruiser that was a project car. The feeling you get when you bring an engine to life after being broken is incredible,” says Colin Northup, a senior at West Sound Technical Skills Center in Bremerton, Washington. “That rush is what sparked my interest in automotive mechanics.”
Northup’s passion for repair has propelled him through many projects and training opportunities. As an aspiring performance shop owner, Northup has been busy preparing himself for a future in automotive repair, while still having fun along the way.
Getting the Land Cruiser up and running was just the start. He later sold the car for a profit and bought his current project: a 1978 MG MGB.
“My ‘69 Land Cruiser didn’t have a carburetor so I had to buy one and rebuild it, along with fixing the engine timing. My ‘78 MGB has needed a lot of work. I have replaced the wiring harness in it as well as pulling apart the head to readjust a push rod. The biggest project I’ve done so far was rebuilding an engine for a ‘55 Chevy Bel Air.”
“I love working on classic cars. Anything from the ‘30s all the way through the ‘50s because of the simplicity of the vehicle,” he adds.
This hands-on experience is what he enjoys the most. From busting tires to replacing timing belts, it’s all about troubleshooting.
“When you work in the auto industry, anything can go wrong and there is no better skill than to be able to assess a problem quickly and efficiently,” he notes.
Northup has been attending several after-hours ASA training seminars, and he recently attended the GM Technical Training for Diesel Emissions and Exhaust After-Treatment. He says the often business-oriented seminars also give him good preparation for owning his own shop one day.
In West Sound Technical Skills Center’s auto technology program, Northup has also taken on leadership roles to boost his skills. As the shop foreman, he acts as instructor Mark Franklin’s No. 1, carrying out orders and assigning projects to teams. He also walks the shop to monitor current problems and teach other students new concepts.
“I love the experience that I get from learning and the leadership skills I develop from teaching the other students,” he says.
Northup’s future career goal is to move to California and open his own performance shop.