Advisory Board Posts

Steve Volk of Shelby American Collection Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

Steve Volk Shelby American CollectionThe hobbyDB Advisory Council‘s newest member is an expert on one of our favorite subjects: Carroll Shelby and his legendary cars.

Steve Volk is President of the Shelby American Collection, a museum of everything related to Shelby. The museum, located in Boulder, Colroado, features dozens of Cobras, Shelby Mustangs, and Ford GT-40s as well as other related vehicles. As if that weren’t enough, the collection includes incredibly rare original racing artifacts and probably the biggest gathering of toys and models of these cars.

“I’ve been interested in cars my whole life,” said Steve. “I started building model cars as a kid and started collecting Ferraris and Cobras in my 30s. I read about Shelby Cobras and GT-40s as a kid but never thought I would own one let alone an entire Shelby museum.”

Shelby American Collection museum

Just a few of the GT-40s, Mustang, and Cobras, at Shelby American Collection in Boulder.

The car that started it all was a factory team car that Steve purchased in the 1980s. Rather than hiding in the garages of individual enthusiasts, it made sense to put this and other cars on public display. It helped that Steve was also knew Mr. Shelby and could get his approval and cooperation. “Carroll Shelby was a good friend,” said Steve. “I spoke with him prior to starting the museum in 1996. We wanted his support in the creation of the museum, and he told me he would be there for us for as long as he was vertical. He kept his promise until his passing in 2012.”

With that kind of official involvement, the museum has been able to attract some very rare pieces. “We have a number of original trophies such the 1964 USRRC Championship trophy on display in the museum plus lots of race records and memorabilia from the Shelby American racing years,” said Steve.

As for the cars themselves, the collection includes many permanent fixtures as well as cars that are on temporary loan.The museum or its members own some 70 percent of the vehicles on display. The balance are owned by collectors around the country such as the Larry H. Miller family.

Shelby American Collection pin hood badge doedorantIn addition to the brick and mortar museum, items from the collection are being gathered in an Official Archive on hobbyDB. It’s a monumental undertaking to document the thousands of items on display, but when complete, it will be one of the biggest archives on the site.

“It’s incredible what Carroll Shelby did for the automobile industry,” said Steve, ”and for America having ushered in the muscle car era. He put America on the map by winning the World Manufacturers Championship in 1965, winning Le Mans in the GT40 for Ford in 1966 and 1967 and the SCCA Championship in the Shelby Mustang in 1965, 1966 and 1967.”

It’s incredible what Steve Volk and the Shelby American Collection are doing to preserve that legacy, too. Next time you’re in Boulder, Colorado on a Saturday, you can visit the museum in person.

Ben van Roode, Dutch Diecast Expert, Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

Ben van Roode

The vast collection of knowledge available on hobbyDB keeps growing with yet another diecast vehicle expert. Ben van Roode, best known as an author of articles and books about model cars, has joined the Advisory Council.

“I played as a boy of course with cars,” said Ben, who lives in The Netherlands. “Then in my teens model cars disappeared into the background because other interests took over.” The lapse wasn’t for long, however, as he got his first job at the age of 16 and began collecting Dinky toys along with other brands of model cars. “There was one slight problem. Sales girls did not ask whether it was a present, but supposed right away that the guy of 18 or so was not the one that would receive the gift,” he laughed. “So they wrapped it up in nice gift paper that I removed as fast as I could.

“Dutch society is more individual than ever today, though, and people do not judge about the hobbies you have.”

In his twenties, he joined the biggest society of Dutch diecast collectors. “Rather soon, I was asked to become a member of the board,” he said. “I started a club magazine and was responsible for the contents. In the meantime the number of members rose to around 5500. We celebrated the 25th jubilee in 1990.”

For the jubilee, the club organized a large exhibition of models in 80 glass showcases that was on public display for six weeks. The event was sponsored by BMW and opened by a member of the Royal family, it was a big deal.

MAR Model Auto Review

Big Boys don't play with Dinky ToysAs an adult, Ben has written about model cars in Dutch and English. I wrote among others for a Dutch classic car magazine. I wrote for MAR (Model Auto Review), and so on. In 2004 he wrote a book called “Big Boys Do Not Play With Dinky Toys,” a celebration of 40 years NAMAC (Netherlands Association of Model Auto Collectors) in a print run of 8500 copies. “American cars in all scales were a main theme for me,” he said about his collection, “but the club included models of cars from anywhere.” Despite leaving his functions in the club, he was made a honorary member for life.

Despite many collector clubs losing membership in recent years, the NAMAC continues to thrive, with over 5000 members. “Every two months there is a large model car fair in the center of the country. With over 500 tables and around 6000 visitors, it’s the largest fair in Europe that’s organized this frequently.” Collectors and traders from Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, the U.K., and further away attend the meetings.

NAMAC meeting

The mulit-annual NAMAC diecast shows are among the largest collector events in Europe.

Having recently moved to a smaller apartment, he decided to sell a large part of his collection (large in number and scale). “I now collect mainly 1/64 scale,” he said. “I love Johnny Lightning and to a certain extent also Matchbox and Hot Wheels. I was positively surprised when JL and Auto World returned with their new lines in 1/64.”

Ben’s interests extend beyond model cars, of course. “In art, I especially love the photorealism but am open to all painters, including the modern ones too. Architecture is another thing that interests me,” he said.

He creates his own art as well. “I draw a little myself, but it is not very good. I love collecting drawn art of cars that are drawn, like the Pontiac ads in the sixties and many other car art people, Ken Eberts, William Motta… the list is endless..” he said. “I made a little book of ads from American cars from American magazines.” As an appropriate soundtrack for enjoying Detroit steel, his Spotify account is populated with Motown and Pennsylvania soul music.

At 70 years old, he is nowhere near slowing down For one thing, he writes for Modelauto Krant, an online diecast blog. He volunteers as a member of the board for some charity organizations and still does personal writing. “I need my diary every day. You have to stay active in your life.”

It’s a joy to know someone who enjoys his hobbies so much. Welcome aboard, Ben!

Bob Finn, Longtime Toy Executive Joins hobbyDB Advisory Board

Bob Finn

hobbyDB has a new member on our Advisory Board, Bob Finn. Finn has a long history as an executive in the toy industry, starting with Hasbro in 1976. In over a quarter century there, he saw the toy industry grow from dolls and cars board games into the digital age and beyond.

When he started, Hasbro had just discontinued one of their most popular toy lines, the G.I.Joe soldiers, so the company had some big toyboxes to fill. Joe would only be gone a few years, however; Hasbro reintroduced them as 6-inch tall “action figures,” which became wildly popular. Other major successes from his era there include My Little Pony and Transformers, the last of which Finn lists as his favorite from his tenure with the company. Hasbro also acquired Kenner, Tonka, Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers on their way to becoming the giants they are today.

Finn has since worked for other toy companies including Fantasma Toys and Master Pieces Puzzles. His interested in puzzles continues in his collecting habits. “I have over 100,000 of them,” he said. “No theme, just puzzles.” (If you conservatively averaged each one at 250 pieces, that’s over 25 million pieces.) His toy industry pedigree also extends beyond the companies he has worked for. “I’m a member of the Mensa Game selection committee that decides annually which new games should get the Mensa seal of approval,” he said. We hope to add quite a few of them to the database.

puzzle colletion

Finn’s extensive puzzle collection includes 3D wooden sculptures as well as assembled, flat, framed ones.

If that all sounds like it should keep him plenty busy, hold on… “I’m a mountain climber,” he said, “I’ve climbed over 500 mountain in Europe and Asia, as well as the United States, including The Matterhorn, Mount. Blanc, Mount Fuji, and the highest peak in Australia.” So clearly, he likes a challenge. As if that’s not enough to bring to the table, he has other collecting interests including “comics, a fairly complete matchbox diecast collection, the best collection anywhere of hand carved mechanical wine stoppers from Europe – all antique- and an extensive collection of German nutcrackers.” He currently lives in Northern California, so the wine stoppers are a natural fit.

We at hobbyDB think he’ll be a key piece in building our database into something bigger and better.

Sergio Goldvarg, Collector and Manufacturer, Hosts Archive at hobbyDB

goldvarg collection

The Goldvarg Collection of model cars is the latest addition to the official archives at hobbyDB. If that name sounds familiar, maybe it’s because you know Sergio Goldvarg as the world record holder for the biggest collection of large scale model cars. Or that he has a collection of George Barris TV Batmobiles in every scale (including a real, drivable one). Or that he is a member of the hobbyDB Advisory Board.

sergio goldvarg collection

Besides all that, however, he was the founder of a company best known for producing models of American cars from the 1940s and 50s, The Goldvarg Collection.

goldvarg collection kaiser henry j

Sergio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and fell in love with Matchbox cars at an early age. His very first one was the Matchbox Merryweather Marquis Fire Engine, which he still owns today with its original box, and in perfect shape. But when he was six years old, he received a 1/43 scale Solido Jaguar D-Type, and his fever for collecting took off. While he is best known for his large scale collection, he has countless 1/43 scale cars, and his own products favored that scale as well. By the age of ten, he was buying damaged, even nearly destroyed model cars and restoring them. “I came up with an interesting idea,” he said. “I began placing ads in the local newspapers offering to buy used miniature collections. I would restore each of the models and offer them to the shops in my neighborhood. Soon I had enough money to buy my own toys and collectibles.”

sergio goldvarg collection

Sergio with just a tiny fraction of his large scale diecast collection.

His next jobs, as an auto racing journalist (he would also later be involved in the organization of the Argentine Grand Prix), and an architect, related to his passion for cars and design as well. “I was the first journalist in South America to write weekly about diecast cars,” he said. His model car column ran in Corsa and Parabrisas, (two well-known South American motor racing magazines) and later Classic Wheels magazine. He still writes today.

goldvarg collection factory

Goldvarg Collection models required quite a bit of hand assembly.

As his collection grew, he also served as an Advisor for Buby, an Argentine diecast manufacturer.

So all that passion and experience eventually led him to start his own model manufacturing company, Miniturbo, in the 1980s and it featured all sorts of vehicles, trucks, vans, pick-ups and buses, which he designed himself.  These were created primarily as toys for younger kids, but he decided to try his hand at something geared more for collectors.

goldvarg collection 1957 oldsmobile

Thus was born the Goldvarg Collection, the first 1/43 diecast cars produced in South America. “Back in those days I was blown away by the beauty and conceptual design of 1950s -’60s American cars,” he said. “To me the British white metal models were the best, but their line lacked some of the items I treasured the most, such as the 1957 Oldsmobile Starfire Coupe. I loved its sexy lines. So the time had come to create my own scale line of models. That Starfire was the basis the first offering in his new line, one year after he set out to start the company.

goldvarg collection packard wagon

His mission was to produce models of cars that he loved, but that had never been manufactured in any scale. In fact, the slogan for his company became, ”From a Collector, to the Collectors.” Some of his models, such as the Kaiser Henry J, and the Packard Woodie Station Wagon 1948 (with real mahogany wood in the sides!), were best sellers when compared with other well-established brands, so his hunch was correct.

He took that first model to Autofanatics, a store in Sherman Oaks, California.  The owner immediately ordered 100 units, and collectors that were in the store at that moment wanted to buy it regardless of price.

In the early 2000s, he moved to the U.S., where among his other tasks, he opened the first “scale model cars related restaurant.” Waffleworks, in Hollywood, Florida, has a permanent exhibit of nearly 900 of his model cars. His idea was to share part of his diecast collection in a place with a unique atmosphere. And serve great breakfast all day!

sergio goldvarg collection

Since 2004, Sergio Goldvarg has been the New Product Development Advisor for Sun Star, working mostly in 1/18 scale. He has helped develop such models as the 1952 Nash Ambassador, 1958 Ford Fairlane 500, 1960 Plymouth Fury, 1956 Mercury Montclair, 1955 Pontiac Star Chief, 1959 Pontiac Bonneville, 1951 Kaiser Henry J, 1959 Mercury Park Lane and 1959 Oldsmobile. Over the last decade or so, Sergio has worked with several model car companies such Sunstar.  In 2011, he wrote a history of Carlos Pairetti, a famous Argentine motor racing driver.

With all that on his plate, we’re glad and very fortunate that Sergio has the time to be on our Advisory Board as well.  While he was never able to put a complete archive of Miniturbo vehicles online before some of them were lost to history, he jumped at the opportunity to document the Goldvarg Collection. You can see the complete archive here.

Michael Knab, Diecast Dealer and Commentator, Joins Advisory Board

michael knab

hobbyDB welcomes Michael Knab to our Advisory Board to share his generous knowledge of the diecast car industry with our community. He is best known as one of the developers of the online community of collectors through the Diecast Zone. Michael also created Legacy Motors, which became a leading online retailer for scale model cars, trucks, motorcycles and military vehicles.

Michael, who lives in San Diego, also founded his own advertising agency in 1980, which grew to serve a broad range of notable companies, like Revell Monogram. Among his favorite diecast of all time, he suggests the1:20 Creative Masters line from Revell. “My agency launched that line,” he said. “To pick one, the GT-40 that won Le Mans in 1969 was especially gorgeous. Livery was iconic and garish, really radiated specialness within a collection!”

revell creative masters camaro g

As far as real cars go, if money were no object, he would love to own a Bentley Mulsanne Speed. As for actual ownership, he said, “I think the first generation of Oldsmobile Toronado and the Buick Rivieras from the 60s on are incredible. I’ve owned several Rivieras.”

His first car was was the white MGB, also a respectably cool ride. “I purchased it in 1973. I got to drive it and park it on Knob Hill and Russian Hill in San Francisco,” Michael reminisced. “To get a feel for the inclines on these two hills, re-watch ‘Bullitt.’ Parallel parking in an MGB on a 60 degree incline is… special.”

Aside from that history, he does not consider himself much of a collector. “I’m primarily a dealer and blogger and commentator. My company owns and manages a website, Automotive-Art.com – which I launched in May of 2016. I love my work.”

So with all that pedigree, he has a lot to offer. “I hope to be of value through my experience in developing online communities of collectors and resources that deepen participation,” he said. “I’ve spent almost 20 years respecting and understanding the passions of collectors. I think I can help the advisory board in a strategic manner as well: to anticipate future trends in collecting, given changing demographics and technology”

“My objective in joining the Advisory Board is to prove a valuable asset to hobbyDB. My motivation: there was a Ted speech in the last year or so where a guru spoke of defining and measuring yourself as how you share yourself to inspire others.” We’re glad to have him share those values with us.