I love doll houses. I love dioramas. I love model train layouts…and toy airports. I love miniature villages. And I love scale model garages.
We had them as a kid – Sears, Eatons, Hudson’s Bay, Montgomery Ward – they all sold tinplate model garages that had brightly coloured lithography on the walls and a variety of ramps, lifts and spirals to park your Dinky Toy or Matchbox models on top. The best ones had working gas pumps and signs that lit up and a variety of accessories for the workshop or forecourt – all made in the sort of brittle 1950’s Hong Kong plastic that never lasted more than a month. They all gradually disappeared and I’ll bet they would be worth hundreds of dollars to collectors now.
Imagine my pleasure at seeing the annual efforts of the die cast modellers at the Model Car Sunday. Not only are there more cars, but they are bigger and more detailed and the garage scenes go all the way inside the buildings, rather than just being tin boxes.
Here is the major work of the day – a garage and dealership on one level with workshop out the back, sales counter, clients lounge, and managers’s office. With the roof left off on purpose, we get to participate in the life of the building.
Waiting, waiting, waiting. To see the manager, to see one of the salesmen, to go for a test-drive, to get the car back from the service. A coffee table full of old magazines and a machine that makes coffee that tastes like old magazines…
The accessory counter. This is where the agency makes back the money that it loses on price bargaining for the actual vehicle. Of course it also makes a tidy sum on extended warrantees and expensive undercoating – not to mention special paint coatings and sealers. They’d sell raccoon tails for the aerials if they could get away with it.
If all else fails, sell them plastic model kits of the cars that the agency deals in. This is the shelf that you steer the kids to while Dad is trying to bargain down for a sedan. The pestering cuts short his arguments and you can frequently slip a couple of $ 40 plastic kits onto the final bill.
Of course someone has to work here sometime. Check out the hoist for the service bay. The floor is the cleanest it has been for three years as the Boss’s brother-in-law bought a Karcher franchise and traded a floor cleaning weekend for a new head on his car. It will look like a bomb site inside a month. They had to take all the porn off the wall as the Boss’s sister came along to help out. It’ll be back in a week.
Les the Master Mechanic is trying to force Doug and Ricky to keep the shelves clean and tidy as he is getting flak from the storeman. Last week they spent an hour trying to find a simple set of calipers that were new and still in the packet. It didn’t help that the wholesaler had changed the colour of the packaging. Les is suspicious that they have brought in knock-off parts from China instead of the genuine ones. Note: there are no more small bandaids in the first aid box.
Operating on the principle that if you keep them waiting long enough, they’ll buy something, the Boss is going through the entire option range with the client. He’s already sunk, as he has had a test drive and talked cars for two hours, but the Boss still wants to make him anxious enough to pop for the super premium mags. There is a discount back on these from the wholesaler and he just needs to sell one more set to get another 7% off the shipment. If the Boss can shift the interior sports pack and the ski rack options he’ll take the wife out to tea. The computer is down again, though.
Now the charming part about a model garage is that anyone can make one. I started one six years ago but I am trying to get rid of the shell of it as it is too big to store or display. I intend to do a smaller one, though.