I fondly remember visiting the local toy shop as a car-crazy schoolboy to collect every Matchbox and Tomica die-cast car available. Not a lot has changed, however, as I still collect cars and scale models with even more enthusiasm.
Over the last 100 years of motoring, there have been numerous brands and models on sale, but few have kept their DNA intact. Many collectors today not only collect specific cars but generations of the same model that make an incredible lineage.
Much like most of us upgrade our iPhones regularly, I often meet car enthusiasts who are loyalists of a particular brand and model and have used almost every generation of their favourite cars – the most common being Mercedes E-class and S-class loyalists in India. Not all of them have kept their older cars though; something they regret after having a chat with me on how good they were as cars and how valuable they are today as classics.
BMW traditionally launches every new model with a display of its entire model lineage. I have always been fascinated with the idea of owning an entire collection of a particular model, something renowned collector Viveck Goenka has been doing for years with his outstanding collection of every generation of Land Rovers, right from the Series I to the Defender, and Mercedes S-classes.
Come to think of it, it is the same as a complete collection of stamps, coins or even music albums of your favourite rock band. Personally, I would love to complete my BMW 3-series collection and have an air-cooled Porsche 911 collection too. The Porsche collection though would be unaffordable, and so I’m trying to collect every generation of the 911 in scale models which should also appreciate in value. Of course, another great collection I would like to see in India is every generation of the Mercedes SL. With only a single 300 SL known to exist here, it would have to start with the 190 SL up to the fabled R129 SL for now.
Let’s not forget Indian cars. Most Indian heritage car collectors, especially Fiat collectors, try to get a complete collection starting with the Millicento to the Premier Padmini. The idea being, the value of a collection or entire line-up of models would always be more valuable than every model sold individually.
If you want to start your collection today, I suggest you start with the car that literally put the country on wheels, the Maruti 800. Imagine owning a garage-full of every generation of Maruti hatches starting with the SS80, the second-generation 800, Zen, Alto and A-Star to the current Alto. It won’t break the bank to acquire (if you start collecting them now) or to maintain and restore with their bulletproof reliability. What a cheerful and pocket friendly collection it would be!