I’ll admit that I’m not a big collector of die cast models. But I do appreciate them and like to check them out in great detail. So when I found out that Minichamps had a museum in Aachen, Germany I hopped in the car and made the two and a half hour drive to visit the museum.
The museum is attached to the actual factory that builds the model cars. You enter through a small door and are greeted by a security officer. In the 600 square metre museum you can find more than 3000 models at any one time. They rotate the display from time to time because the museum itself is not big enough to house all their exhibits.
I was lucky as they had just installed a new display covering all the BMW Art Cars. I have never seen the BMW Art Cars in real life so this was a great opportunity to check them out. The cars on display were commissioned by BMW and encompassed the first 15 cars. The first is the Alexander Calder 3.0 CSL from 1975 and the last is the Jenny Holzer V12 LMR from 1999.
The Andy Warhol M1 and the Frank Stella 3.0 CSL, which you saw in the opening picture, were my personal favorites.
This particular Art Car made by Roy Lichtenstein had its hood and trunk removed so you could see the model’s intricate details.
Because they are made in 1/18 scale, Minichamps was able to overload the car with all sorts of detailed touches. They also made a small sheet with more info on the artist that painted the car.
Here are the other versions they had on display. If you live in the vicinity of Aachen and have never seen the BMW Art Cars, I suggest you pay them a visit. You can check their opening hours right here.
This large display housed more 1/18 scale cars ranging from old and new race cars to special one-off items. I wasn’t able to take a closer look because it was behind the counter.
The museum also had a second floor with several other displays, including ones for their 1/43 scale cars. The dominant brands were Audi and Porsche but I was told they switch them with other brands.
The main feature of the museum was the display in which Minichamps explain how the die cast models are made. It always starts with photos and detailed drawings to get the measurements right.
After that a prototype is made from plastic. As you can see it already features all of the parts and details. When the prototype is approved, it’s time for the next step.
A tool set, weighing around 300kg, is made up. This one is for the body but they also make one for all the plastic parts.
Once the tools have been constructed they are sampled for test purposes. The first undecorated models are created from these as unfinished samples.
Then it goes from an approved sample to the painted version you see on the right.
But a model isn’t finished until it had all of its decals added. The first finished models are ready approximately five weeks after the first sample.
This is how the finished Jean Alesi model looks at the end. A true masterpiece in every sense of the word.
Most of the cars Minichamps had on display were these 1/43 scale racing cars. This is the car that won the Dijon 6 hour race in 1976 with Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass behind the wheel.
I really liked this 917 Kurzheck Coupe from 1971. This particular car had a cut off tail that increased downforce, enabling Porsche to win Le Mans two years in a row.
This Porsche 911 Carrera RSR from 1974 looked exceptional.
I’m sure Rod already has this 1978 Porsche 935/78 Coupe in his collection.
Minichamps also showed a lot of numbered specials. This Mercedes for instance is a limited edition with number 001.
A few cabinets were filled with numerous rewards Minichamps has won over the years.
I spotted this rare Toyota Celica Group 5 racer on one of the top shelves.
Here is another limited edition with a run of only 1008 pieces. This is of course the McLaren MP4/7A that belonged to Gerhard Berger. He won the 1992 Suzuka F1 race in this car.
Not all the models reach the production stage. This Tyrrell P34 also known as the ‘six Wheeler’ never made it passed the prototype stage.
There is so much more to show you but I don’t want to spoil the fun of visiting this museum. If you have any interest in model cars this museum should be on your bucket list. A lot of the models you will see are limited editions that are long sold out or of race cars you never knew existed.