IPOH, Jan 7 — A decade ago, Elvin Chew had a dream to turn his lifelong passion of collecting model cars into a business.
Now, the 40-year-old bachelor runs Ipoh’s — and possibly Malaysia’s — first ever model car museum.
Located in Ipoh’s iconic Concubine Lane, the museum — aptly called Dream Big World — houses over 500 model cars, including die cast models and model kits by Bentley, Ferrari, Mercedes Benz and Rolls Royce, among others.
Among the highlights are a 7kg model of LaFerrari which changes colour and a model of the first car ever made, complete with its patent certificate.
Sitting grandly on its own shelf is an impressive collection of Formula One cars driven by the series’ greatest driver Michael Schumacher, including machines, caps, and figures from his halcyon days with Ferrari and Benetton.
There are also informative displays explaining the inner workings of motor engines and the history of car manufacturers like Daimler-Benz, Volkswagen and Bentley.
“I want to do more than just show people the cars. The point is to educate and increase the public’s interest in cars,” said Chew, who was an engineer and a school teacher before he opened the museum last month.
Since he was a schoolboy in SMK St Michael here, he loved model cars and building things.
Like many youngsters, his collection started modestly with model-kit cars he put together and painted.
“About 10 years ago, I began dreaming of setting up a model car store. But early this year, I changed track and decided to set up a museum instead,” he said.
“I looked at the museum trends in Penang and thought I could use the concept here. If anyone wants to buy the cars, I can help to order it for them.”
Sticking to the hand-crafted theme, the museum also features an “Around The World” exhibit, which displays foam board models of several iconic global structures throughout history.
The models include the Coliseum, the Taj Mahal, the Petronas Twin Towers and the Burj Khalifa.
All of the models were built by Chew, who gave great attention to the details including the decorative artwork to the information cards on each display.
Even though the cars on display only make up half of his collection, Chew hopes to add more displays to his museum.
While visitors only trickled in during the first week, he estimates the museum can attract around 20 people per day on weekends.
“In the first week, I admit I was slightly concerned whether this would succeed. But to me, it is way better than any 9-to-5 office job. I can stay here until 8 or 9pm and enjoy every minute,” he said.
“If you do something you love, it does not feel like work at all.”