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Needle in a haystack: A Porsche collector’s dream come true

Monday, April 10, 2017

Article and photos by Jim Hemig
Lead photo: The author's bookshelf filled with collectible Porsche models
All other photos: Pictures taken inside Flashback Toys and Collectibles, where the author found some rare Porsche scale models

“Do you have any Porsche cars?” I asked the grizzly old-timer behind the counter. “I have most of them, but I’m always looking for something rare.”

You see, I am a collector of Porsche vehicles. Sports cars, race cars, sports utility vehicles, anything with the name Porsche on it.

Crazy as it might sound, my first Porsche was a 917/10. The 917/10 Can-Am racer that set course records all over North America in the mid 1970s. Well, a 1:64-scale slot car version of it.

I initially became interested in Porsche sports and racing cars as a preteen racing AFX 1:64-scale Porsche slot cars. And my first one, that 12-cylinder, turbocharged beast with an open cockpit, cow-catcher front spoiler, and oversized rear wing, was just the beginning. My stable grew to include 911, 934, and 935 slot cars. Then I transitioned to 1:64-scale Hot Wheels and Match Box cars. All Porsches, of course.

Few toys — or collectibles as we adults call them — survived my youth, but the collection of small Porsches did. Not only did it survive, it grew. With easily more than 100 1:64-scale cars now on my Porsche-only bookshelf in the living room, I feel I have most of them. Even diligent searches of eBay show I’m only missing a select few.

Some might call this an obsession. I won’t argue. While grocery shopping I might see a display of Hot Wheels cars, and I have to stop and look. Maybe a new Porsche has been released. Sometimes that’s actually the case. but usually it’s an unnecessary pit stop in the gathering of the week’s groceries.

I know I’m not the only one with this interest. My friend John Strom has an extensive collection of 1:18-scale Porsche cars, currently 35 of them ranging from 356-001 to a Carrera GT  — all in silver. John worked for Porsche Cars North America from 1985-1991 in the marketing department and is a Past President of the Sierra Nevada Region of the PCA, a serious Porsche enthusiast who also enjoys collecting scale models.

I often hang out at EBS Racing in Reno (EBS is a worldwide Porsche-exclusive parts supplier), and Sales Manager and Project Consultant Don Weaver has so many scale Porsche cars in his office I wasn’t sure if I was at an auto parts store or a collectible toy store.

After admiring John’s and Don’s collections, I was glad to know I wasn’t alone. My meager collection doesn’t stand up to theirs, but I still happily have them all on display.
Which brings me back to the grizzly old-timer. When I’m out and about, I keep an eye open for hobby, toy, and collectible stores, and while killing time in Reno recently, I found one I hadn’t visited before.

My cell phone map showed a collectible store in a small mall in the center of town. This mall was a mix of nail salons and secondhand stores. I figured this stop would be a bust, since I couldn’t even find the store at first.

Then I noticed signs pointing upstairs. Finally tracking down the front door, I walked into a small room with literally thousands of scale cars — mostly Hot Wheels and Matchbox in 1:64-scale. I had stumbled upon the motherlode.

The old-timer, Arthur LeVesque, not only owns this little piece of paradise, he knows where every car is. When I asked for “any Porsche cars” he quickly started pulling miniature versions of 911s, 930s, and 959s from the shelves, sometimes several deep behind Chevys, BMWs, and Ferraris. 

Without hesitation I’d say, “I have that” or “I don’t, add it to the pile, I’m buying” — until I realized how quickly it was adding up.

He even had a rare 928 for which Hot Wheels literally broke the 1:64 scale mold some years ago. One little car I’ve been searching for a long time. Finding the rare 928 in a sea of thousands of cars was like finding a needle in a haystack.

What’s with this obsession anyway? I already have a couple of full-scale Porsches in my garage, so why the need for another collection?

I’m convinced there is a connection between Porsche ownership and scale car collecting. Look at eBay or Amazon for yourself sometime and you’ll find hundreds of scale Porsches for sale. Some are only a few bucks and others go for hundreds of dollars.

Could it be possible scale car collecting gives us an opportunity to own a particular Porsche model that is financially or historically out of reach? Or maybe a chance to display a car we used to own and had to sell?

Some may sarcastically say, “Big kids and their toys,” but scale cars don’t accumulate miles or need costly repairs. And we can display them and admire them for years on end.

Next time you’re in a toy or collectibles store, look at the scale cars. You may see that Porsche you have always wanted. Or a Porsche you used to own.

If you’re in Reno, stop by Flashback Toys and Collectibles and say hi to my new friend Arthur LeVesque. Arthur has a website, too. But he’ll tell you he’s not much of an Internet guy. Call him and ask what you’re looking for. I’ll bet he even has a scale version of your Porsche. 

Buy it. Display it. Next thing you know you’ll end up like John, Don, and me, with a small collection of amazing replicas that represent your obsession with Porsche automobiles.

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