Neil describes himself as “a car lover since infancy.” Growing up
in the 1950s and ’60s, he had many Dinky Toys and Corgi Toys. His
father attended a car show in Buffalo, New York, each winter, and upon
his return would bring Neil a 1/25-scale promotional model of the latest
Pontiac or Oldsmobile. “I thought those were really special,” Neil
says. “I was fascinated by shiny, monstrous, noisy, grown-up cars, and
had toys to play with until I could have the real thing.
Neil built plenty of his own models as well.“In adolescence I
built many model kits in 1/25 and 1/24 scale, from Revell, Monogram, and
AMT, with spray cans and tentative ‘upgrades’ like adding thread for
spark plug wires. In the ‘3-in-1’ kits, I always favored the ‘custom’
variant, and asked my dad why we didn’t have fender skirts, a
Continental kit, and twin rear antennas on our red ’55 Buick hardtop
convertible. He snorted and said, ‘I don’t need all that junk.’ I
thought he was a philistine, but I guess he was a purist.”
As young musician touring the U.S. and Canada, too, Neil
continued his model-building. “I had a briefcase-sized road case
containing a kit or two, paints, dozens of miniature tools, and an
aerosol airbrush. On days off, my hotel room became a little workshop,
and I had the pleasure of solitary concentration on a tiny, controllable
bit of reality.”
Though he didn’t keep any of his old toys and models, Neil has
since amassed quite an impressive model collection focused primarily on
sports cars and GT cars of the 1950s and ’60s, plus a handful of pre-war
Bugattis. In the mid 1980s, Neil discovered 1/43 hand-built models, and
since then he has made a point of visiting a network of shops around
The bulk of his model collection today is in that small 1/43
scale. “I acquired a couple of genuine masterpieces of miniaturization,”
Neil says. “A Ferrari GTO with tiny sliding plastic windows, opening
doors, and perfect engine detailing, and a Bugatti Type 35 with the
piano wire attaching the bodywork rendered perfectly, as are the leather
upholstery and bonnet straps. I define these delightful creations as
expensive—and worth it.
In that rarefied environment of fine-art miniatures, Neil
eventually found his way to my own shop, Creative Miniature Associates.
“I began to commission a few particular favorite cars in my chosen
colors—a black over red [Ferrari] Lusso comes to mind, and a 289 Cobra
in the same combination.” He also owns number three of 100 Ferrari 166MM
Barchettas that I hand built.
Finally, Neil has commissioned 1/24 renderings of his personal
cars: a Porsche 911 Speedster, BMW Z8, and a pairing of the Aston Martin
DB5 and the modern DBS. Says Neil, “These tiny jewels of intricate
craftsmanship give me pleasure just in contemplating them.”
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