Lahore: Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Fiat, Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, MG, Austin Martin, Land Rover, Range Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Morgan, Jaguar, Mini Cooper, Morris, Ford, Datsun, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Isuzu, Mazda, Toyota, Lexus, Subaru, Hyundai, Bugatti, Holden, Hummer, Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Pontiac, Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge. You name the car and the model and this guy would bring the Dinky toy car in front of you.
This guy is no ordinary person. He is Aamir Ashfaq, the owner of almost 5,554 Dinky toy cars — a record that he holds at least in South Asia. His passion for four-wheeled playthings knows no bounds. The 45-year-old hopes to break the record of Lebanese collector Billy Karam, who has more than 25,000 different toy cars. Prior to him, Sergio Goldberg of the USA (originally from Argentina) was the record holder with more than 12,000.
The collector lives in Allama Iqbal Town area of Lahore. Parked outside in the garage was his Suzuki Mehran car. The real treasure was, however, in the study room on the first floor. He has converted the room into a toy car museum. Besides the toy cars, the museum also houses hundreds of magazines about cars which, Ashfaq said, had helped him know about the qualities of cars in his collection.
“Collecting model cars has been my passion since childhood. My love for cars started when I was in the first grade. There was a shop in Commercial Building near Anarkali Bazar on Mall Road. It was called Toyland. Whenever my family visited Anarkali Bazar for shopping, I always insisted on visiting this shop where all kinds of toys were sold. What always fascinated me were these Dinky toys. I never wanted to buy big toy cars or other toys. These small Dinky toys had something special about them. They carry all the details of real cars. Many of them have doors that open and the bonnets of some cars open too with details of engines showing beneath.
“I love the sound, speed and especially the colours of these rolling masterpieces. Love for Dinky cars will never end. Of course, I don’t play with them but buying new toy cars to add to my collection is my hobby that I will never give up,” Ashfaq told this scribe.
He works in a private organisation. He works from nine to five and is very busy throughout the week.
“Whenever some colleague or friend goes abroad, I request them to buy me some toy car that is not in my collection. So the collection comes from across Pakistan and many other places like Cape Town, Dubai, London and Bangkok.
“My pursuit may not have gone far enough to earn a world record, but no doubt such a collection is still unique in Pakistan. Over the years, I have managed to collect model cars linked to famous personalities — I have cars modelled after the wheels that James Bond, Mr Bean, Michael Knight and Batman would choose to drive. I also have models of luxury cars, antique cars, vintage cars, sports cars, muscle cars, formula 1 cars, NASCAR and cars in movies like Knight Rider, Back to the Future, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Italian Job, Fast & Furious Series etc.
“I possess cars of numerous brands, including Matchbox, Hot Wheels, Majorette, Corgi, Johnny Lightening, Burago, Tomica, Jada Toys, Real Toy, Norev, Maisto, Welly, Siku, Kinsmart etc.
“Each of my cars has a history. Memories may fade with time but these cars take me back to moments in the past. When I hold a car in the palm of my hand, I remember things I had forgotten about the past, and this gives me immense joy. In fact, I can’t explain it in words,” he said.
He said his favourite car was a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am, which appeared in the Hollywood TV series Knight Rider. This car was used as K.I.T.T. (Knight Industries Two Thousand) in the series.
Ashfaq lives with his wife Saira and three daughters 17-year-old Iman, 15-year-old Rimsha and eight-year-old Asma. Saira said her husband was very loving and caring. “His passion for these toy cars has not disturbed the family life. He is a good husband and a responsible father. Aamir never imposes his own hobby on children. They play with their dolls,” Saira said.