PALM BEACH GARDENS – When Sunrise auto enthusiast Joe Collazo works on a car, he dons magnifying glasses and wields tweezers. The work is delicate and he likes to concentrate.
“I’ve built all kinds of cars, trucks, and bikes,” Collazo said proudly, as car buffs surrounded him at a recent Cars and Coffee Palm Beach to admire his handiwork. “I enjoy working with my hands putting cars together.”
But the cars he and his friends assemble aren’t for driving. They’re miniatures created by the Model Builders Mafia, a group of about 50 hobbyists who love to build and customize model vehicles.
Model Car Builders Create ‘Wow’ Factor By Customizing Kits
On this day, about 75 models were on display. And the buzz they created was impressive.
Florida Fine Cars caught up with Collazo at the Palm Beach Outlets Mall to find out more about how the detailed models are built, how much time is involved and what drives the Model Builders Mafia to create.
Collazo, a baker at a Publix store in Coconut Creek, has been building models for about seven years. So far, he’s constructed about 300 and has no plans to stop.
He’s a detail guy who loves to customize.
One of his favorites is a replica of the orange 1995 Toyota Supra from the movie, “Fast and Furious.” The sleek hotrod draws plenty of “oohs” and “ahs.”
Details Come From Discards
“When you open the hood, there are hoses and fuel lines,” Collazo said, pointing out the detail. “Usually when people throw out old appliances, I yank all the wires out.”
Those wires are reborn as engine parts for the model cars Collazo assembles. The result is incredible detail.
One of his most stunning creations is a 2010 International Pro Star tractor. The red and white model truck has a red cellphone in the front and a tiny CD on the dashboard. A pet monkey stands on the passenger seat near a minuscule and very authentic-looking McDonalds Happy Meal box.
Collazo grins when he describes how he created the Happy Meal.
First, he bought a real Happy Meal, unfolded the box and laid it out flat. Then he photographed it, shrunk the photo on a computer, printed it out and re-assembled it. The result was a perfect copy.
“It took a couple hours,” Collazo confessed. But that’s part of the fun. The way he figures, he invested at least 80 hours in the Pro Star tractor.
“It was a labor of love,” he said. “I just enjoy building them. It keeps me out of trouble.”
Boca Raton resident Gary Mitchell is another model building buff. But he’s very choosy about what type of cars he builds.
“I usually deal in Fords. I’m a one-make model builder,” he chuckled.
Mitchell drives a 2009 Ford Mustang and has been building model cars for 52 years.
He figures he’s built around 100 so far, but he’s not exactly sure. He likes customizing his models as well.
“It’s something to do on a rainy day or to kill some time,” Mitchell said. “Whatever you want you can add on to a car. Ignition wires, brake lines, detailing.”
West Palm Beach resident Julia Acosta was completely impressed. She is hoping they can build a model of her red 2013 Scion FRS.
“I think they are super cool. I asked them if they make custom replicas of cars,” Acosta said. “They have my car but they don’t have the body kit right. I’ve seen model cars but never in this detail.”
For more information about the Model Builders Mafia, go to www.modelbuildersmafia.com, or contact Adam at 954-304-5502 for more information.
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