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At just 9 years old, Sam Maynard knew exactly what he wanted to be. "I wanted to be the best mechanic in the world."

He was a farm boy growing up in Barbados when he had an epiphany.

Sam dreamed of the inside of a working car motor. "I saw everything that works in there - the valves, pistons, the crank shift, the fly wheel - everything that's inside that motor, I saw it."

Sam's parents didn't share his dream. They wanted their son to get off the farm, and grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer. Sam's dad scraped together the cash to pay for tutoring so his son could test into one of the best boys schools on the island.

Sam Maynard

Sam Maynard, DIY Auto Repair Instructor Christopher Johnson, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Christopher Johnson, NPR

Sam says he flunked the entrance exam on purpose. Twice.

"My father said, 'boy, we're gonna stop spending our money on you,'" Sam remembers. "'What trade do you need?' I said, 'mechanic.' And that was it. My dream came true."

Sam left Barbados soon after World War II, and landed in England on his 22nd birthday. He says discrimination made it tough for blacks to get good auto shop jobs in the UK.

He took jobs in factories, and with the railroad. His dream eluding him, Sam started drinking a lot. That's when he got his second calling.

"I was sitting in a London pub with a friend, drinking our beers. And he said, 'Sam, what are you doing working on London transport railways? There's no future there for you. You have a trade.' I didn't want to hear that! I just asked the barman, 'give us another pint!'"

It was just the spark Sam needed to get back to his dream. He went on to get a college degree in automotive technology.

He's been working on cars and trucks ever since. And the 70 year old mechanic says there's no place he'd rather be than under the hood.

"Oh, it's my passion, it's my passion!"

Our friends at the radio show Car Talk have a whole list of resources and other stuff that can help you become a Do It Yourself Car Mechanic.

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