Speed Reads

it wasn't all bad

South Carolina mechanic gives new life to clunkers, then donates them to people in need

Eliot Middleton has never met a car he can't fix.

It doesn't matter how many miles or dents it may have — this certified mechanic can take any vehicle bound for the junkyard and get it up and running. He lives in South Carolina's Lowcountry, and knows that when people in rural communities don't have their own cars, they usually have to walk to where they need to go. "There's no public transportation," Middleton told CBS News in June. "There's no Ubers, there's no taxis, or nothing like that."

That's why he started fixing up old cars in his spare time and donating them to people in need, like single mom Jessica Litchfield. Last December, she received a 2004 Suzuki, which has been "a lifesaver," she told CBS News. That was one of 32 cars he has given away since starting his project. 

Middleton, who also owns a barbecue restaurant, said people can't believe it when they find out they've been nominated to receive one of the restored cars. After his story aired on CBS News, it was Middleton's turn to be shocked — his phone "started exploding all over the place," he said during a follow-up interview last week. Thanks to viewers, nearly 800 cars have been donated to his cause, in addition to $100,000 in cash to cover new parts and repair work. Middleton has a message for everyone who has stepped up to help. "Thank you all for the support," he said. "You've got my back and I'm going to make sure to show you guys we can do this."