Before I move on to what’s important, the models in this “virtual museum”, let me please share a little bit about my scale model collection.
Where is your “addiction” to model cars and bikes coming from?
I’m not professionally linked to the world of automobiles or motorbikes, just a fan. I think my interest about this world started really early: my mother told me she learnt to drive and got her license a couple months before I was born… I’m not conscious of that, but I clearly remember two “defining moments” during my childhood. One has a precise date: it was Niki Lauda’s first world F1 title, achieved with his third position in Monza on september 7th, 1975. I learnt about this a few weeks later, as at that time news spread very slowly, mainly through the specialized press.
The other memory I have must be also from around those dates: a spectacular DeTomaso Pantera in sparkling blue color, owned by a lucky neighbour, a car that made me understand there could be something very special in one thing in principle as prosaic as a transportation machine.
When did you start collecting models and why? Which was your first one?
Shortly after these first “crushes”, I began to build scale models in my spare time. I built many, the vast majority Tamiya Formula 1 at scale 1:20 and some at 1:12 scale. Also some motorcycle on the bigger scale. Very few of those models, plastic, paint, glue and decals, have survived the passage of time.
When I started not having time for modeling, I switched to already built models. I remember very well the first one I bought, and more or less when it was: a Ferrari GTO 250 red, die-cast at scale 1:18, manufactured by the Italian house BBurago. It must have been around the mid-1980s and I bought it at a train station, I suppose on one of the trips from home to college. Back then I was already very interested on cars, but only through the press, so I was very impressed to see one faithfully reproduced at that size, including opening hood and doors, a detailed engine and an operating steering. This GTO was followed by a 250 red Testarossa and then a 250 LM also red and also from BBurago. There arose a first idea for a collection, which was “red Ferrari” …
As for why I collect them, it’s simple: what I really would like is to have all the real models, but that’s impossible, so scale models is what comes closest to this dream.
Why these scales?
Back when I started collecting, there were not many options in models already built, such as the die-cast. I suppose there were already lots of models at the very popular 1:43 scale but that size didn’t call my attention: at that time I preferred to have a few large ones, rather than many small ones. There were also 1:24 models and a few at 1:12, but for me the 1:18 was perfect in terms of balance between size and level of detail.
I have been very rigorous with this criterion of the scale because I am a bit “squarehead” and it makes me uncomfortable to see two models together at scales even slightly different. My car collection is essentially 1:18, plus some very detailed models at 1:12 scale and some oddity such as 1:16. As for the bikes, they are all 1:12 (except one at 1:6 and another one at 1:10, both showcased separately from the others because otherways they break the magic of thinking they are real …)
How did you acquire the models?
I have a careful record of the source of all my models; approximately, half my collection was bought in modeling stores and half via the Internet, in some cases buying on the manufacturers’ websites, but most of them through online auctions (eBay ).
I believe that the “explosion” of Internet and the offer of scale models have coincided in time, especially in 1:18 scale, so before Internet my collection was relatively modest, simply because the offer was very limited, in terms of manufacturers , models and distribution channels. But back in the early ’90s there was a small revolution in the world of collecting, when numerous brands (such as Minichamps, AutoArt or Exoto) began to offer many 1:18 scale models of a quality and level of detail that exceeded everything that had been seen so far. This coincided in time with the expansion of Internet and online commerce, so suddenly we fans found ourselves with an increasing offer of very representative models, great quality and reachable from home.
As for the origin, I have actually bought through Internet from all over the world: Europe, the United States, Australia, Japan. The purchases from sellers from outside my country (in the EU) are very complicated because once the model arrives you have to deal with the tedious customs process, but for some special models there is no other way.
Which one was the hardest to acquire?
I remember a very specific one: the Ferrari F310 / 2 by Michael Schumacher, the “high nose” variant of 1996, manufactured by Minichamps. It is very rare and hard to get. Back in 2002, I tried several times in different online auctions, but it was clear there were several of us looking for it because another collector was always ahead of me. Finally, I got it at an auction while spending holidays at a ski resort. At that time neither wi-fi nor mobile Internet access were widespread, so I had to go one late afternoon to a kind of Internet booth, where I could make a winning bid just before the auction ended, while begging the parlor’s clerk to wait a little longer before closing… He must have thought that I was a little bit insane (and he was possibly right…) But I got the model and now the two versions of the Ferrari from that season (the “low nose” and the “high nose”) are proudly shown in my collection.
Another rare and difficult to get model was the Benetton B192 with which Michael Schumacher won his first F1 victory at the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix. It is difficult because it was one of the first produced by Minichamps (then called Paul’s Model Art) back in 1993. Another example of rarity is the Brawner-Hawk manufactured by Ertl with which Mario Andretti won the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, and there are a few more at similar levels of difficulty.
Is there a “crown’s jewel”?
It’s hard to answer this question, as all the models in my collection have been thoughtfully selected and carefully acquired. If I must choose one, more than a specific model I would mention a series: the Porsche 917. I have 15 versions in total at 1:18 scale, from the well-known Le Mans “Kurzhecks” and “Langhecks”, the 1970 / 1971 Sport-Prototypes Championship racers in the famous Martini, Gulf or Porsche-Austria versions, to the 917/30 “Sunoco” with which Mark Donohue razed the Can-Am in 1973, going through the 917/20 “Pink Pig” of Le Mans 1971 and the 917/10 of George Follmer, Can-Am champion in 1972. I also have the curious prototype with 16-cylinder boxer engine from 1971 and the 917 PA Spyder with which Jo Siffert ran in Laguna Seca in 1969, authentic “test car” of this legendary model of the brand from Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.
In my opinion, the 917 is the “best” racing car of all time. I’m not saying the most reliable, the most beautiful, or even the most victorious one, but the one that historically could represent better what a racing car means. In terms of raw speed, I would point out that the 917 still holds the fastest lap time ever recorded on a circuit, by any type of car: Pedro Rodríguez rolled at 258 km/h average in the 1970 1,000 kms. of Spa (the Formula-1 pole-position that same year in Spa was 12″ slower than Rodriguez’s own pole in the Sport-Prototype race…)
How many “categories” are there in your collection? Why these ones?
My hobby is sports and racing cars and bikes, with a focus on models from 1950 onwards – although I also have a few “vintage” and pre-war models. As for road cars, I have a category that we could call “supercars” (grouping the pinnacle of sport cars) and then series by brands, with Porsche and Ferrari as the main ones (about 90 models each), but also Lamborghini, Jaguar, Aston Martin, BMW “M”, Mercedes-Benz AMG… I also have a series with all generations of the Chevrolet Corvette (34 models) and another with the Ford Mustang (36 models). Then a couple of racing boats, simply because they are 1:18. I would have also liked to collect a series of “concept cars”, but I guess you have to stop at some point.
In terms of competition, I have Formula 1, Rally, 24 hours of Le Mans, Indianapolis 500, GT, Sport-Prototypes, Can-Am, a curious series of Australian Bathurst 1000, a theme collection of Jägermeister decorations…
With respect to motorcycles, I have three series: road bikes, MotoGP and Superbikes, with practically everything that has been manufactured at 1:12 scale. In these collections I also include a few of the Tamiya models I built years ago, the ones that I managed to keep in good condition.
My favorite series are Porsche, 24 hours of Le Mans, Formula 1 and Rally. Motorcycles look also very attractive at the display, even more than cars from the aesthetic point of view.
How many models in total?
Around 1,600 cars at scale 1:18 (almost 300 just Formula 1, 175 Le Mans, 135 Rally…) Motorcycles, more than 200 at 1:12 scale.
Where do you keep them?
I had part of my collection displayed, for a short period of time, in a small home office. Then I realized it was only visible to a small group of people (friends and family), so I packed them back into their original boxes. This is when the idea of this “virtual museum” arose – if I can’t physically share my collection with other fans around the world, at least I’ll try to do it virtually. I know these not the real vehicles, but they are faithful representations, in a number and with a variety that no automobile or motorcycle museum in the world can afford.