Restoration of an iconic 1960s Chrysler Valiant at Charles Darwin University (CDU) in Alice Springs is underway and in the hands of First Nations students at Yirara College. The 10 students, with support of CDU staff and apprentices, have not only transformed the car, but also their automotive skills and workplace credentials as well. CDU lecturer and mentor, Shane Gaghan, joins Andy’s Big Brekky show to take a look under the hood.
The ‘Cuz Congress’ Aboriginal superhero car is well known across Central Australia where it starred in a documentary and featured in town parades 25 years ago. Due to the age of the vehicle the restoration takes time; parts are not readily available and need to be manufactured, and the engine rebuilt. But this is all bonus skills for students along the way. The Valiant’s revival will culminate in its display at the Pavilion at the Red Centre Nats in September 2023. “Strict deadline!” notes Andy.
This project is made possible through the Right Tracks program, a Central Australian Aboriginal Congress initiative, and Rusted Gems Project, assisting young people to engage in what they love and turn it into a profession, becoming leaders and role models in the process. The skills learned during the Valiant restoration have contributed to building pathways from school to Vocational Education & Training programs to the national workforce, with a few students already lined up for local apprenticeships.