Standfirst Wilco Machiels’s automotive dioramas are a feast for the eyes of car enthusiasts. Once we heard that one of his creations featured a pair of classic 911s, we decided to take a (much) closer look. Body If you’re like me, then the idea of model making will bring back memories of sticking tiny plastic parts to your own fingers using impossibly stringy glue. After hours of struggling with instructions — whose pages had themselves become stuck together — while trying to prevent the whole surface of your creation becoming daubed with gluey fingerprints, you would ultimately realise that the time had come to admit defeat. What had promised to be a superbly detailed Supermarine Spitfire had ended up looking like a piece of post-dogfight shrapnel, and its one and only flight saw it hurled at the nearest wall. There was a tacit understanding between the manufacturers of those kits and the ever hopeful, yet steadfastly deluded souls who sought to assemble them that the whole exercise was a complete waste of time. Personally, I always seemed to manage to break some vital, microscopic part while trying to free it from the cellophane before assembly had even begun, and I always seemed to end up with several fragments of newspaper glued forever to the dining room table afterwards. I am convinced that no one has ever managed to coax together those fiddly little parts to resemble in any way whatsoever the picture on the lid of the box. Except for Wilco Machiels of Nuenen, in the Netherlands, that is. Wilco’s creative flair first bore fruit when he was only seven years old and, yes, he was cutting his metaphorical modelling teeth upon those very same Airfix constructions which so frustrated you and me. At first, aircraft and military vehicles were his preferred subjects, but when he joined Volvo’s (Netherlands) Development Centre as an apprentice in the Prototype department, in 1985, his interest switched to cars. His working environment featured machines and equipment of all shapes and sizes and Wilco saw a challenge in recreating all of these in miniature to enhance his finished work. As a result, he created his first diorama; a rather large affair (too big for him to store in his hobby room) which taught him a lot — not least, to make them rather smaller in future… Over the following years, the master has honed his skills and refined his art. He now builds exclusively in 1:24 scale, “It’s a scale not too big or too small, and suitable for a high degree of detail,” he says. “Every diorama that I make begins with a detailed model kit of a classic car, sometimes with further models being cannibalised for parts in the diorama’s garage. I love the nostalgic garages of the 1960s — dirty, a little cluttered and rather disorganised and untidy — I like to recreate them just the way they were.” “Each project starts with a floor and walls made from plastic/styrene. I then spray paint the floor with thin coats of grey and black. The walls are made with individual styrene bricks and are painted generally white or grey. I often use real wood for window frames and doors. For the plumbing and power cords, I use steel wire and solder, and most of my dioramas feature real 12-volt lighting systems with miniature light bulbs. A single project can take several months to complete, and it’s not unusual for me to lose my inspiration and put it to one side for a while during construction. “Over the years,” Wilco adds, “I have made dozens of dioramas and, when my hobby room becomes too crowded, I sell them. These days, I also undertake specific creations at the request of people who have seen my work and want to own an example themselves.” The basis for each of Wilco’s dioramas is usually a kit produced by the likes of Fujimi, Tamiya, Hasegawa, and Gunze — Fujimi being his favourite. Although he has completed a handful of previous Porsche projects, the one of greatest interest to us was finished as recently as September 2006 and features a pair of 911s: a 1967 2.0-litre S and the ubiquitous 1973 2.7RS. As a careful study of the accompanying pictures will show, Wilco’s attention to detail is awe-inspiring. It is impossible for a car enthusiast to look at one of his creations without becoming immersed in the atmosphere that pervades the whole scene. Before you know it, you are drawn right into the diorama and can actually experience the smells and sounds that are an integral part of the workshop. For some reason, I imagine an unanswered telephone ringing in the workshop office of this 911 diorama, while the mechanic wrestles with some oily Stuttgart engine innards elsewhere and I browse around, waiting patiently and trying to avoid standing in oil or putting my hands down on any swarf as I peruse dissembled parts of flat-six. Just like the 911 itself, Wilco’s work takes what is basically a fairly simple creation and imbues it with a unique attention to detail to create an utterly involving result. I must admit, it makes my small collection of mass-produced, starkly-mounted 911 models look distinctly sad. I wonder what it would cost me to have him create a ‘964 on the Karrussel’ diorama..?