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The 40-year-old who never grew up

Ashfaq has a collection if 4,500 toy cars ‘orderly parked' in his study and is eyeing a world record

Image Credit: Courtesy: Aamir Ashfaq
Aamir Ashfaq has nurtured a love for toy cars from when he was in the second grade.Now at 40, he yearns for the real thing — a real car of his own.
Gulf News

Karachi Meet Aamir Ashfaq, Pakistan's unique toy collector. Residing in the country's historical city of Lahore, this 40-year-old enthusiast has the dubious distinction of collecting nearly 4,500 toy cars that are "orderly parked" in his family's study.

When Gulf News spoke to Ashfaq about his passion, he said it had all started many years ago when he was out with his parents in Anarkali Bazaar of Lahore.

“During my childhood, toy cars were available for Rs10. Now they cost between Rs150 to Rs200”
-Aamir Ashfaq, Pakistani toy collector
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Having spotted an orange coloured toy car, the then Grade Two Ashfaq pressed his parents into buying him the toy he wanted, even though his parents wanted a much fancier and costlier toy train for him instead.

"I rolled on the floor in that shop and even threw a tantrum [for them] to buy me that car," he said.

According to him, it was that day that his passion for buying and collecting toy cars was born. Ashfaq aspires one day to enter the Guinness World Records by being the individual with the most number of toy cars.

Pleasant shock

At present, the record is held by a Lebanese, Billy Karam, who has more than 27,000 toy cars.

Karam was amazed to learn that Ashfaq also shares his passion for toy cars.

"He was amazed to know that I [harbour a desire] to become the world's largest collector of toy cars one day," Ashfaq said.

However, the pursuit of his ambitions has come at a high price. Ashfaq, who earns Rs30,000 (Dh1,215) a month, sets aside Rs2,000 to finance his hobby. The most expensive toy car, Ashfaq ever bought cost Rs1,000.

"During my childhood, toy cars were available for Rs10. Now they cost between Rs150 to Rs200," he said.

Though he wants to buy only original models, the price tags on these have proved prohibitive.

His collection includes the eye-catching Trans Am and the Pontiac, which achieved worldwide fame in the famous TV series Knight Rider. Though the Pontiac model has been Ashfaq's all time favourite, his collection includes numerous English, French, and German toy cars.

Many of them are rare now as over the years Chinese toy cars have flooded the market, leaving fewer demand for the old brands.

"Now the Chinese [toy] cars are all around, but they are no match for old models from the European countries," he said.

When it comes to his wife Saaira, Ashfaq has distinct tale to tell. Married for 14 years, Saaira has had to share her space with her husband's toy cars.

Initially, she was worried about Ashfaq's passion since the cars were kept on display in their bedroom.

Wife comes first

To please his wife, Ashfaq dismantled the shelf and moved it to the study.

Despite having a huge collection of toy cars, Ashfaq and Saaira wish to have a car of their own one day.

"We don't want an expensive car, even a small car will do," Saaira said.

The orange car triggers special memories for Ashqaf, reminding him of his mother who he misses.

"Whenever I look at my car collection — and especially the orange one, it takes me back in time."

Costly passion

Rs2,000: Amount Ashfaq sets aside monthly to buy toy cars

27,000: Record for the most toy cars held by an individual