11-year-old saves up own money to buy 1975 Oshkosh E-Series

Most 11-year-olds save up for toys, but Leon Carter saved up for a truck

Children’s goals usually involve purchasing a video game, stuffed toy or snack; undoubtedly juvenile.

It’s not often you come across a child with clear cut dreams and a plan of action.

However, after meeting 11-year-old Leon Carter, it’s clear that there are exceptions.

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Attending truck shows with his father Les for years, it was at the age of four and a half that Leon declared his goal in life.

To buy a truck.

Leon saved over $8,000 for the truck

It was made clear early on however, that any regular truck would not suffice for the ambitious youngster.

“When he first asked if we could buy a truck and fix it up, I told him we probably could, but he would have to find one he likes first,” Les says.

Wandering around the truck show, Leon’s eyes quickly set upon an old R-Series Oshkosh.

“It was love at first sight,” Les says. “He told me that was the one he wanted.”

Quick to action, Les informed his son that he would have to start earning and saving his money if he wanted to buy one.

“He knew from a young age that you have to work before you get any money and if you sit on your ass and do nothing, you’ll get nothing.”

“Honestly I thought he would just get over it, and we would probably revisit this when he’s 14 or 15 or something.”

“But he was just so persistent.”

Leon immediately started collecting cans and bottles, recycling them at a Return & Earn.

Slowly growing his stash, Leon was so fixated on the goal that he would turn down other toys and experiences to save.

“I would joke around with him a lot. If he wanted some Lego or something I would tell him it would have to come out of his bank,” Les says.

“Immediately he would say, I can’t spend that it’s Oshkosh money.”

The fascination with the American brand only grew stronger, his bedroom slowly turning into an Oshkosh Museum.

“I’ve got an Oshkosh hat, shirt, bedspread, posters,” Leon says.

“Everything is Oshkosh.”

Leon plans on driving trucks as a career when he gets a little bit older

After recycling for a period, Leon realised he would need to up his game plan if he was going to get the money as soon as possible.

Luckily for him, a family friend gave him a box trailer to fix up and sell for profit.

“Then that started a long line of box trailers that we would fix up together and sell,” Les says.

“Honestly he started making quite a lot of money.”

Leon says he enjoys fixing up the trailers with his dad, “it’s not hard, but it’s fun”.

Loading up the Oshkosh to take it to its new home – the rig is going to need a lot of TLC

When Les had slowed down helping Leon with the trailers, focusing a bit more attention on fixing them up to build up his daughter’s moneybox, Leon was left in a predicament.

“I told him he would have to work something out for himself to get more money.”

With the itch to buy steadily increasing, Leon took to following in his father’s footsteps and cutting firewood.

“He said it’s not happening fast enough, that he needed to make more money,” Les says.

“We’ve got a wood paddock with good wood in it, and off he went.”

Over time, Leon had built himself a nice little nest egg to play with, now eagerly waiting for an Oshkosh to appear for sale.

“I was just scrolling on Facebook one day when I saw a 1975 Oshkosh E-Series show up in an auction, and those ones are pretty rare,” Les says.

Upon showing Leon the listing, he immediately declared that was the one he wanted.

“Can I buy it, can I buy it, I’ve got the money!” Leon shouted.

Following some extensive homework, phone calls and pricing for Caterpillar 1674 rebuild kits, Les gave in to the ambitious boy.

Winning the auction, Les looked at his son and says, “you better go and tell your mother you own an Oshkosh.”

Leon Carter and the original owner of the Oshkosh, Max Graham

Forking over $4,500 for the rig and another $3,500 for transport, Leon was now the only 11-year-old with his very own Oshkosh.

Waking up at 3am that Saturday, the duo and a mate set off to collect the truck from Max Graham.

“Max was actually the original owner. He told us a story about how this truck and the one at the Heritage Truck Museum in Alice Springs are sisters,” Les says.

“He said they should have consecutive numbers. They were both paid for on the same day and picked up on the same day.”

Buzzing on their newfound information, Max sweetened the deal by locating a spare cab and a spare engine that they were free to take home.

Leon is convinced the restoration will take one dedicated weekend.

Les, the realist, understands the restoration will take closer to two years to get the whole thing done.

“The goal now is to at least get it running for the Heritage Truck Association truck show in Beaudesert in October.”

“Leon is determined and told me he will pay for a float if he has to.”

Les says he is incredibly proud of all that his son has achieved and commends him for working so hard for it.

“I, of course, helped him fix up the trailers, but I never put a single cent towards the truck. That was all him.”

“People have always underestimated Leon, teachers at school laughed at his goal and he has struggled a bit. But he continues proving to them that he can do anything he puts his mind too.”

“I couldn’t have done this in my mid 20’s, and he is out here smashing goals at 11.”

The story isn’t over for Leon, with the goal of restoring the Oshkosh and purchasing a new wood truck at the forefront of his mind. 

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