Boy Genius: 18-year-old engineer defies the odds to build his own car from scratch

From a young age Kelvin Odartei Cruickshank had been a huge fan of cars

In fact, before he turned one, a Christian prophet told his parents he would grow to be an engineer.

BORN ENGINEER: Despite growing up in a low income family, Kelvin was determined to make a name for himself

His mother, however, strongly opposed that destiny for her son and insisted he would be a doctor instead. 

Years later, she has come to realise engineering was Kelvin’s calling all along. 

After all, how many 18-year-olds who have just completed junior high school can emphatically say they have been able to build their own cars from scratch?

Kelvin was born in Accra, Ghana to a family who did not earn much income. 

His mother was a trader, while his father ran a local bar. 

INCREDIBLE: Kelvin’s feat has been applauded by many in Ghana

Global recognition

In pursuing his dream of becoming an engineer with global recognition, Kelvin begun working on the car when he was 15 after making remote controlled prototypes from age seven. 

“It was really difficult at first because my mother initially would get mad when she saw me working with metals as she thought I was just playing in the dirt,” said Kelvin. 

He added: “She would sometimes come take the metals and throw them away out of anger.

“She wanted me to focus more on my education, but I knew if I had the practical knowledge and education, I would have a great balance.

“As a result of the many quarrels we had, most of the people in the area thought I was a stubborn boy, but little did she know I was building my own car.”

HOW IT BEGUN: Kelvin started working on the car at the age of 15
ASSEMBLY: This is the ‘warehouse’ he put together to assemble the vehicle

Doubt and ridicule

To fund his project, he began doing menial jobs and even became a street hawker, selling drinks by the roadside. 

Opposition from his mother was not the only stumbling block in his way, however. 

He was constantly met with doubt and ridicule whenever he explained his plans to people.

Kelvin recalls an encounter with a neighbour which almost made him abandon his plans. 

His confidence was briefly crushed when he disclosed his intentions to the woman after he was seen working on the vehicle.

LAST LAUGH: Most people ridiculed him when he said he told them he had plans to manufacture his own car

Last laugh

His clothes had become dirty from rolling in the red Ghanaian sand while putting the car together. 

He explained: “My neighbour asked what I was doing, and I told her I was building a car. 

“After that, she said ‘who do you think you are? Building a car? Oh, I have heard people say you are going mad’.”

People in his neighbourhood had come to that conclusion after seeing him pick scrap metals and other materials for his car from rubbish dumps. 

Undeterred, he was determined to carry on knowing very well that when his goal was complete, he would have the last laugh. 

PROJECT: Kelvin with his finished and working car

He said: “I was not going to give up on my dreams, no matter what people said about me. 

“I persevered and now, I have been able to show people in my neighbourhood that I was not crazy, but rather passionate and determined.

“There were times where I would try to assemble the car and it just wouldn’t work out, and meant I had to spend more money and effort to start all over again, but quitting was never an option.”

Kelvin recollects times where he would make huge sacrifices to ensure his vision materialised. 

“Sometimes I would starve and just use all my money to buy metals for the body of the car.”

‘Hard work and tears’

HAPPIEST DAY OF HIS LIFE: Kelvin’s hard work finally paid off

He said the day he finally saw the car move was one of the happiest of his life. 

“The day the engine started; I was so happy. I even had an accident but that did not bother me because all my hard work and tears had finally paid off,” he added. 

News of Kelvin’s achievement spread across the country with many applauding him for the feat. 

He says the purpose of the car was to show his talent and attract investors to help him further educate himself and advance on his skills. 

“Don’t be swayed by societal opinions.”

Kelvin Odartei
THE DREAM TEAM: Kelvin with friends Adnane, Eben, Felix, Timothy, Isaac, Kenneth, Josua and Bentil, who he credits for helping him through his struggles

He attributes his success to a group of friends who were there to lend a helping hand since he started the project and never gave up on him.

Kelvin, who plans to hold an exhibition to encourage young people like him advised: “When you have a dream, follow it and see it through till the end.

“Don’t be swayed by societal opinions. You never know where it could land you.

“Little drops of water make a mighty ocean.”

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