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Selection Committee – Bruce Meyer and his Dream Material

In the digital age, it seems we’ve entered another golden era for cars. It’s easier than ever for your average guy to find and appreciate the aesthetic appeal of a whole range of cars from all around the world, not just what’s at their local used car lot or cruise night. A big reason for this renaissance: some decidedly un-average car guys, who’ve opened up their collections and knowledge to be appreciated by the latest generations of enthusiast. Bruce Meyer is one of these enthusiasts and we’re happy to have his talent on the Selection Committee.

Bruce’s contributions to automotive culture build a long list. Of course, there’s his personal collection, a physical manifestation of the years Bruce has spent racing and touring around the world in events like the Mille Miglia and Goodwood. The 4 1/2 Litre Bentley, the Bonneville Belly Tanker, the 356 outlaw with the 912 motor; most of Bruce’s cars have participated or continue to participate in motorsport. Many now reside in Bruce’s Beverly Hills Garage, a tasteful, moderately sized space which also houses Bruce’s collection of model cars, automotive literature and memorabilia. Far from some cloistered, vacuum sealed museum, Bruce has allowed many guests, including automotive media guys like Adam Corolla, to film the space for years.

His collection has made such an impression that it inspired a few model cars, such as the Hot Wheels Pop’s Garage, Designer Dreamz and the Bruce Meyer’s Gallery sets.

Then there’s the other collections Bruce has started or championed, including the world-renowned Petersen Museum, the Nethercutt Collection, the Mullin Automotive Museum and the LeMay Museum.

Bruce has won numerous awards for his work, among them an induction to the Model Car Hall of Fame. We’re sure he’ll continue to make a lasting impression on the automotive scene, and we’re happy to have his input in the Model Car Hall of Fame. Check out the video below for a closer look at Bruce’s collection.


A New Selection Committee Member and his Amazing Automotive Books

One of the best things about racing is its ability to make what otherwise appears as a collection of metal, rubber and oil into legend, and few have earned that legend as well as Lotus. It’s through the publishing company of our newest Selection Committee member, William Taylor’s Coterie Press, that some of the best of these stories get told through great automotive books.

William Taylor Automotive Books
William Taylor and a few of his books.

William started Coterie in 1996, shortly releasing its first work, “The Lotus Book“, documenting the automakers storied history with a huge array of photographs. In subsequent years, Coterie has released works covering vintage racing, famous drivers, and other storied automakers, but Lotus remains a favorite, with William owning and racing a few himself. Another of his ventures, Auto Archives, based for now primarily in his own home, seeks to document every piece of automotive literature, automotive books and other memorabilia ever (you should go and see their model racing car collection!). We’re happy to welcome such talented and passionate publisher into our ranks.

John Player Special Automotive BooksCoterie’s latest work demonstrates William’s commitment to great automotive literature and examines what’s probably the most famous Lotus-engineered racer: The John Player Specials. Solid black with delicate gold accents and understated script, the cars exuded an unmistakable sense of class. Once the national flag of the host country dropped at the start of a Grand Prix, these Lotus-engineered cars performed in historic fashion as well. 

John Player Special Automotive Books“Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials,” features storytelling straight from the source: prolific automotive journalist and writer Johnny Tipler. Tipler spent time as the team’s own Press Officer in the 1970’s and has written 15 books on Lotus cars so far. New and vintage images come from Ian Catt, the team’s official photographer. 

John Player Special Automotive BooksBeyond Formula 1 fans, there’s something for everybody here. Though best known for their Formula 1 cars from 1972 to 1986, JPS also sponsored Trans Am Mustangs, Formula 3 cars, and even powerboat racing. All of these are covered. Fans of a few particular racing drivers will also find something special. 

John Player Special Automotive BooksTwo different limited, leather-bound “Special” editions of the book have been autographed by one of two racing legends. You can get one of 72 copies autographed by Emerson Fittipaldi, who won the Formula 1 title in 1972, the first year of the JPS program. (His version of the car was the Lotus 72.) Or you can order one of 79 copies signed by Mario Andretti, who won the F1 title in the Lotus 79 in 1978. The “Special” Edition comes in a clamshell case with JPS badging on the front.

John Player Special Automotive BooksIn addition to Fittipaldi and Andretti, the book features interviews from JPS drivers such as Nigel Mansell and Johnny Dumfries. Several of the original engineers and mechanics offer up their recollections, as does JPS Project Manager George Hadfield.

John Player Special Automotive BooksThe Standard edition will sell for $64.95, and the Special Editions will be $250.00. The book will be available in September, but you can preorder it at www.coteriepress.com. While you’re at it, check out the rest of Coterie’s work. If you’re a car person, there’s definitely something there for you. 


Automotive Renaissance Man Philippe de Lespinay joins the Selection Committee

Model cars are a unique hobby. The number of different ways to express these cars in model form often goes way beyond variations of the real thing. This can lead collectors down some very unique paths. The Journey of Philippe de Lespinay, our newest Selection Committee member, certainly represents an example. Throughout his career in the automotive and model car world Philippe has moved between continents as well as from diecast, to slot cars, to real race teams and back again.

As an 18-year-old in France collecting Dinky Toys and other 1/43 diecast, Philippe was hired by Heller as a designer. Despite lacking any design experience at first, his creations eventually won widespread praise, attracting the notice of another big player in the model kit world: Revell.

The early days of Philippes career

After meeting executives from Revell at a trade show, Philippe was offered a job in the States and decided to make the move.  Rather than heading straight to LA, Philippe wound up first in Bangor, Maine, where he saved up to hitchhike the remainder of the journey.

By the time he reached the West Coast, Revell was in trouble and his job offer had evaporated, but the sixties was a heady time for models, particularly slot cars. Within a day, Philippe had found another job, this time with a consulting company, Innova Inc., designing a set of HO scale slot cars for Matchbox.

It was here that a long relationship with slot cars began. Beyond just designing, his bright idea for magnets to improve rear-wheel traction was purchased by Matchbox. Although the initial explosion in popularity that slot cars enjoyed was waning, Philippe continued to design and to race semi-professionally, winning the ’72 USRA Championship.

The ’72 Western States Championship winner

In the wake of slot cars’ decline, Innova went bankrupt and Philippe moved on to Cox Hobbies, where he was finally able to see his magnet traction design used in production.

A Cox Hobbies SuperScale car, with a traction magnet

Philippe’s life remains firmly in a slot car orbit. The TSR slot car company, which he started on a bet, continues to serve the true enthusiast with cars built right here in the states, many based on designs he worked with decades earlier. His collection of 1/24 and 1/32 scale slot cars, some of which are the very same cars he raced back in the seventies, now resides at the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum, for which he works as a consultant. He has written a book on vintage slot cars and is now working on another which he hopes will be the go-to for racing enthusiasts.

Showing off some models at the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum

Although slot cars became one of the most steadfast of Philippe’s automotive passions, it certainly didn’t remain the only one. From ‘71 through ‘98 he worked with Dan Gurney to design race cars, one of which he currently owns and races himself. His current diecast collection of about 1000 cars contains prewar Tootsietoys, French lead-cast toys from the thirties, Dinkies, rare tinplate cars and more. 

A sampling of Philippe’s Tootsietoys

Philippe still hasn’t finished traversing the Automotive world. He also plans to write a book on prewar Tootsietoys and an illustrated tale on the rise of rear-engined cars in F1. Clearly, Philippe knows what he’s about when it comes to cars. We plan to make use of every bit of that knowledge here at the Hall.


Dean Milano, Model Kit Master, joins the Selection Committee

As we welcome the addition of model kits to our categories, we also welcome a Selection Committee member who stands as one of the world authorities on the subject: Dean Milano, a former employee at Revell-Monogram as well as a lifelong collector and kit builder.

Dean fell in love with cars early on, as a front seat passenger in his family’s ‘48 Plymouth. From there, he moved on to model cars after convincing his parents to buy the Jewel Tea Company delivery truck sticking out of a delivery man’s basket. From ‘59 on, Dean was beginning to build 1/25th scale cars and various others. In 1965, he won the second place in a contest at a local hobby shop for his Custom ‘56 Ford, the first of several such wins.

A young Dean after his podium finish.

For years afterwards, models took a backseat while Dean channeled his passion into music, leading to a long and successful career with bands like the New Seekers, although a love for models remained.  Later, In the early 90’s, he began working at what was then Revell-Monogram, where he spent the next 12 years. During those years, Dean’s influence could be felt throughout the Revell range and he naturally amassed a keen knowledge of all things model kits.  

Dean at the Des Plaines, IL office of Revell-Monogram

Beginning in customer service, he eventually moved into Product Development, writing all sorts of copy that anyone who has ever built a Revell kit has probably seen, including instructions, advertising and kit descriptions. He also built many models, designed a few kits, such as the Highway Scenes and Blacktop Warrior series, and worked to sort out which new ideas might make it into production.

 

A few of Dean’s models, making onto the front page.

Dean’s love of model kits did not stop at Revell’s door, of course. His own collection now stands at around 2,500 models, a mixture of finished kits, as-yet-to-be-built kits, diecast, resin and plastic cars, as well as pretty much every other form of transportation and even H.O. scale buildings. 

In recognition of his immense model kit knowledge, Dean has been recognized in publications such as Scale Auto Enthusiast and books like Arthur Ward’s Classic Kits, among many other articles. His very own toy museum, open from 2001 to 2004, saw more than 4 thousand visitors. 

With such a vast knowledge of the subject, Dean naturally caught our eye as a candidate for the selection committee. He’s the perfect guy to find the best model kits among a huge array of options. We look forward to putting his various talents to use. Model Car Hall band anyone?


The Selection Committee Heats Up: Introducing Fireball Tim Lawrence

We’re excited to announce the newest member of our Selection Committee, Fireball Tim Lawrence. Fireball is a unique talent in the automotive world, and not just for his name. Many people find their niche in one section of car culture or another, but Fireball has made an impact in all of them.

Earlier in his design career, Fireball submitted a few sketches for an as yet unnamed Batman movie with Tim Burton. After his ideas ultimately shaped the film’s Batmobile, Fireball went on to a 25-year career designing cars for hundreds of films, such as Jurassic Park, the Avengers, Gone in 60 Seconds and many, many more. A lot of these cars eventually made it into diecast.

The Batman Returns Batmobile

With so many big-name designs credited to his memorable name, Fireball soon became recognized as a figurehead in the automotive world. This led to television roles hosting shows like “World’s Most Expensive Rides” on Discovery Channel, as well as shows on Speed Channel and TLC.

Fireball in the “Monster Garage” days

As media began to shift online, Fireball used his blog, Fireball Malibu Vlog, as a launchpad to build his successful Youtube channel of the same name. The show now boasts over 760 videos with 30 million viewers across different platforms.

Before, during and after becoming such a big name in the 1:1 car world, Fireball always had a love of models. Since he was a kid, Fireball has collected Corgis, Dinkies, Hot Wheels and Matchbox, with a special emphasis on film cars. That basic theme has remained unchanged as the collection has grown. Fireball doesn’t just collect, he’s helped design models, including a special run of Johnny Lightning cars bearing his name. 

The collection

Johnny Lightning even run a popular Fireball Tim Series with many more models planned before the brand was sold to Tomy.

That’s already enough to hold a vaunted position in the car world, but Fireball’s most memorable trait is the absolute commitment to spreading positivity through car culture. For Fireball, collecting is a way to stay in the moment, and allow everyone in the community to be more creative and do more with what they love. The newest outlet for this commitment from Fireball is a series of books and coloring books, some of which are automotive themed, whose proceeds help support Hope For Paws Charity Dog Rescue. 

This prodigious passion and knowledge will be a huge asset to the Model Car Hall, and we look forward to making a even bigger, more positive impact with Fireball on board.


A Bigger Mission, a new name – Slot Cars, Model Kits and Scott Bader joining the Selection Committee

At the Hall of Fame, we’re revving higher and higher, and it’s time to upshift. We’ve been steadily adding scales, classes and dozens of new inductees, becoming one of the biggest communities of model car enthusiasts in the world. To best reflect this new status, we’re excited to announce our transition from the Diecast Hall of Fame into the Model Car Hall of Fame, now also covering Model Kits and Slot Cars.

We’re introducing a new logo this year that eagle-eyed followers may have noticed shows a particular brand of car. In fact, it’s last years inductee for Automotive Brand of the Year, BMW, but not just any BMW, the beautiful 507. Rather than have a generic silhouette, we decided to showcase the previous year’s winner because we celebrate striking, standout models in 1:1 or other scale. To show anything less in our own logo would be letting you all down.

As we have more and more brilliant models to pour over during nominations, we need keen collectors from across the industry to join our Selection Committee and help us pick the very best. This year, one of our new categories is slot cars. Who, we thought, would be a better judge than Scott Bader?

Scott not only collects the vehicles but also trade packs, prototypes and everything widely slot car related

Scott, while an enthusiast of many types of models and full size cars, has become something of a patron saint of the slot car hobby. Starting in childhood, Scott has maintained his love for slot cars to today. He has started the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum, a new home for his vast collection of everything slot car related and one of the few establishments of its kind in the world and is also at the helm of Electric Dreams, which he turned it into one of the go-to site for the slot car enthusiast, giving the community also another news source and forum to share their passion. 

Some of his 1,000s of models ready to race

The LASCM houses thousands of slot cars, including nearly all the different types of kits produced during slot cars’ first heyday, professional racing hand-built cars, motors and other parts. Beyond slot cars, Scott also has a very significant collection of rare model kits (the Museum could also be called the Los Angeles Slot Car and Model Kit Museum, but maybe that would be too long). Through these enterprises, Scott helps countless folks relive great memories and continue the hobby. Both  the LASCM and Electric Dreams continue to bring updates, memories and the cars themselves to thousands of grateful hobbyists. We have no doubt that Scott will be a great member of our Selection Committee, and continue to be a standout in the model car world. 

With these new additions, we’re excited to have our biggest year yet. Stay tuned for nominations and event information by subscribing to our email newsletter at the bottom of the page!