A good die-cast car will look exactly the same as the original model, according to Omar Faruq Tipu, who can say this with some authority as he has over 100 scale cars in his collection – and is very particular about them. characteristics of each one.
But even if his cars aren’t 200-mile-per-hour highway missiles or multimillion-dollar restorations of a Mercedes or Ford version, he’s demanding about the quality of their construction and the precision of their details.
“The scale car’s engine, steering, seat belts, wipers, grille, hood, doors and door handles will look the same as the real thing,” Tipu noted.
“These are not toys, nor replicas. They are called scales because of their size,” Tipu said.
He explained that the scale of a die-cast vehicle is an indication of its size compared to the actual car it is modeled on. This means that a 1/24 scale diecast toy car is one 24th the size of the actual car.
The collector said most of his cars were 1/18 scale, one-18th the size of the actual car.
Scale model companies must obtain permission from original car manufacturers, such as Mercedes, Ford or Fiat, for a fee. They must be licensed companies and must state the number of scale models the model will be made of.
“And cars with history and fame also fascinate me,” he smirked, as his collection includes Elvis Presley’s 1968 Cadillac Eldorado, Eric Clapton’s Ferrari 250 GT and Eleanor – the Custom 1971 Ford Mustang Sportsroof featured in the 1974 film Gone in 60 Seconds.
Die-cast model makers such as Maisto, Wiley, Hot Wheels Elite, Bburago and Auto Art are some of the scale makers. Cars made by Maisto or Bburago are comparatively cheaper – 4000-5000 Tk per piece. However, models made by CMC can cost several hundred thousand euros.
Besides the cost, some models are very rare.
For example, Tipu said that only five scales of Silver Arrow – America’s first futuristic concept car – were made by a Japanese company. Three of the cars were destroyed in World War II and the other two are now owned by two American collectors.
Following a running passion in analog time
This was before the 1971 liberation war. Tipu was a third-grade student at Narinda School in Old Dhaka.
One day, while returning from school, he saw a red hooded car near the Narinda police station. An image of a galloping horse was painted on the car. Child Tipu described the car to his elder brother after returning home.
After a hectic two-week search, the brother told Tipu that it might be a 1965 Ford Mustang. He was told that the mustang is an American wild horse that is usually small and light.
Later, Tipu learned that the car belonged to the family of Humayun Saheb, owners of the famous former residence in Dhaka Rose Garden.
Tipu said his interest in cars developed in childhood like other children.
In 1975, during the Eid holidays, Tipu was visiting his aunt in Dhanmondi. There was a store named “Sagar Sambhar” behind Almas Super Shop. In addition to books, toy cars were available at the store.
There Tipu found a toy box with six vintage cars – some made by Ford, others by Peugeot or Austin. Each car was priced at 35 Tk. Tipu said he had money to buy only three cars.
“Uncle, I’ll pay you three cars. I’ll come after a month and pay the rest. Please don’t sell them to anyone until then,” he told the shopkeeper.
After Eid he went to the store with Tk12 which he got as Eidi. He gave it to the shopkeeper and said he would give more next month.
“You better take all the cars now and come later once you have the money,” the shopkeeper insisted.
During the first stage of the collection, he received a scale Lamborghini – purchased in Thailand – as a gift. In 2000s, Tipu used to go to a store named Et Cetera near Gulshan Shooting Club and other toy stores at Gulshan DCC Market.
Scale cars – mostly Mercedes, Ferrari or Lamborghini – were available on the DCC market, but there was not too much variety as there was no importer of these cars. The models were transported with luggage from neighboring India.
Et Cetera’s models were better, but were comparatively more expensive.
At first, Tipu said he was interested in sports cars or supercars. But after watching the Transformers movie, he started to feel more for these role models. However, his interest in sedans or family cars remained as before.
He made a cabinet for his collection. The collector said he now receives more cars as gifts than he buys. His friends staying abroad bring him the gifts when they visit home. Relatives also offer him cars or planes for his birthdays.
“Now there is a lot of news on the internet. Collectors all over the world are exchanging information through social media groups. There is also a Facebook group in our country called ‘Bangladesh Model Collectors,'” Tipu said. .
He said he was now actively connected to the group and relied heavily on it for information on new cars.
“But at the very beginning, I mean in the 2000s, you had to find out, browse the shops and put together your own collection,” he recalls.
An addiction without return
A preview of Tipu’s collection would show 1954 Packard Executive Sedan – featured in the 1972 film Godfather.
Then the Mercedes-Benz 500 – nicknamed Maharaja as the original car was custom-built for a king of British-ruled India – would come out of the closet.
The collection includes the Mercedes CLK GTR, whose doors resemble a butterfly after opening.
Next is the Porsche 550A Spyder. The series was first introduced in 1953, when Hollywood icon and racing driver James Dean purchased one of the first batches of 90 Spyders.
The Fiat 600, which hit Dhaka’s roads in the 1980s and 1990s and is often referred to as a “posh car for the poor”, also adorns Tipu’s collection. Tipu owns a 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster. Its doors and panels were made of wood.
“Looks like there’s no end to your collection,” Tipu said. “It’s an addiction that has no return, no end. At this point in retirement life, I have more time to spend with cars.”
“Does that sound crazy,” the collector asked, adding, “More cars are coming. Come see them once you have time.”