New Zealand Classic Car
PATRICK’S MODEL COLLECTION BEGAN WITH A VW GOLF
ASK PATRICK HARLOW, WHOSE KITS AND PIECES SERIES IS A REGULAR FEATURE INN Z CC, WHY HE BEGAN COLLECTING MODEL CARS AND HE’ LL TELL YOU ,“I NEEDED A HOBBY SO PEOPLE WOULD KNOW WHAT TO BUY ME FOR A PRESENT”
And that might be the best answer yet about how to avoid receiving another bottle of aftershave at Christmas. It definitely works for Patrick.
His collection began in 1978, when he bought a metallic green Matchbox Superfast series VW Golf with surfboards (No. 7). The next model he acquired was another Matchbox toy, a magenta-painted Datsun 260Z 2+2 (No. 67).
He can confirm first-hand that in the 1960s New Zealanders did queue for Matchbox Toys when a new shipment from Britain was advertised. As a child he, his brother Paul, and his dad joined those queues in his hometown of Ashburton, waiting patiently for the shops to put the models on sale at 5pm on a Friday night. His childhood Matchbox Toys were well played with, and none form part of today’s collection.
Patrick now has nearly 2000 diecast models, mostly in 1:64 scale, or approx. 7.6cm in length. Those relating to movies and TV series are his favourites, but he finds them the hardest to come by in the preferred 1:64 scale.
Each model in the collection is catalogued by the diecast manufacturer’s name, and by the maker of the real car. He says the cataloguing is to reduce the chance of him duplicating a model. “I have so many cars it is easy to forget what I have.”
He does not usually collect the same car by different model manufacturers. The exceptions would be if the car was issued as a promotional model for different movies or TV shows.
“I collect the best quality, not necessarily the oldest, and I replace it if a better-quality model comes along. I keep the boxes for them in case I sell them.”
Patrick has all of his cars displayed out of their boxes in either his living room, or behind glass in his model room. His favourite models have their own mirror-backed glass cabinet in the living room.
But what his guests may notice first is the wall display of 1:43 scale classic 1950s American cars by Franklin Mint, which was a gift from a friend who couldn’t keep up with the dusting.
Those in his model room are arranged from A-Z, with the car’s radiator grille badging and make appearing below them on the shelves, giving the impression of a large motor show in miniature. The display makes instant impact with its wow-factor presentation.
“People who come around and visit always like to see the collection. It’s no fun if people can’t see it,” he says.
One reason he shows the cars in alphabetical order is to help visitors appreciate the collection more. Otherwise they may not know what the models are, and it also assists them to find their own cars. “Part of the fun of collecting is when people recognize a car they own or [one which] has a family history.”
What appears to be the oldest model in the collection is a Dinky Toys MG Sports car (No. 35c), probably a post-war version produced between 1946 and 1948, because of the black wheels. Patrick thinks the car is original, apart from some replacement wheels. The friend who gave him the model did so with two of the original wheels, which he displays in the MG’S cockpit.
While holidaying in Europe another friend spotted some Grell Modell limited series versions of the East German Wartburg, and brought them back as a gift for him. They were a promotion by a German beer company, Patrick says.
His only New Zealand–made model is the Fun Ho! Midget Holden Ute (No. 57), a circa 1996 Repro version with blue-tinted plastic windows fitted. He bought the ute during a holiday visit to the Fun Ho! National Toy Museum at Inglewood.
Patrick once travelled to the diecast swap meets at Palmerston North and Auckland to buy models, but now chooses to attend only those in the Greater Wellington area, where he lives.
He buys over the internet from Trademe, as well as ebay. Foreign purchases are necessary because some brands of model vehicles are not imported into New Zealand. Tomica is one no longer sold in this country’s shops. “I have a few in my collection, and they’re nice models.”
He says Tomica is one of his favourite model car manufacturers, along with the now defunct American brand, Johnny Lightning, and the TV and movie promotional models from Hot Wheels.
In 2014, Patrick fulfilled a lifelong ambition on his American holiday by driving across Route 66 from New York to California, with his wife Heather. He has built a commemorative souvenir incorporating models of the actual rental cars he drove on the journey: a grey 2014 Dodge Charger saloon by Greenlight and a red 2014 Chevrolet Camaro by Johnny Lightning.
A highlight of the holiday for him was meeting the late George Barris (1925–2015) at
Barris Kustom Industries in North Hollywood, California. Barris designed Patrick’s childhood dream car, the Batmobile from the 1960s Batman TV series and movie. In the Barris showroom, he saw the second Batmobile built for the TV series, which had just returned from a promotion launching scale-model Hot Wheels Batmobile cars. Barris’ original Batmobile was built from the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, a model Patrick has by Johnny Lightning. The current 1966 Batmobile in his collection is the Hot Wheels Redline version, which he says is the favourite model.
He does not restore any of his model cars, usually acquiring them for the collection in mint condition. One not in pristine condition is the play-worn Corgi Juniors Ironside Police Van (No. 1007), which was found in a sandpit by a friend and added in this state. Ironside was an American crime drama that ran on the NBC TV network for eight seasons, between 1967 and 1975. It starred Raymond Burr in the title role as the crippled former chief of detectives, with Don Mitchell as Mark Sanger, his personal assistant.
Despite life in the sandpit, the Ironside model still has the complete figures of Sanger pushing Ironside in his wheelchair, with the wheelchair able to be lowered and raised through the van’s rear door.
It would be back to the 1970s for the models that Patrick would most like to add to the collection. At the top of his wish list are all the cars from the 1975 film, Death Race 2000. He is hoping that this year will be the one when this collecting wish is fulfilled.