By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
Since he was 6 years old, Garry Boros has been putting together models.
The first, a robin, was given to him by his dad, Louis Boros. The youngster put it together and painted it “exactly the way you’re supposed to,” he said. He did that with the next model, a submarine.
And that was one of the last times he did that.
“The first model car my dad bought me came with an actual rag top he had sewn on for me after I put it together.”
They moved around a lot when he was growing up, 11 different towns in West Virginia, as his father followed work in the coal mines.
“Yeah. We bounced around a lot,” he said with a laugh.
“I wish I had those models now,” he said. “But after years of moving, they got tore up or lost. If I had now what I had 51 years ago, that would be priceless.”
His father was one of the miners never recovered in the 1968 No. 9 mine disaster.
“I was 14,” he said. “I helped raise my sister and baby brother with my mom.”
Now, when he gets a model, he looks at the directions once, scraps them and paints it the way he wants, no matter how it looks on the box.
The only models he won’t customize are NASCAR models, he said.
His small apartment is practically a museum/garage filled with more than 400 model cars and trucks of all sizes, colors, makes and styles.
He’s got pop icon cars, like the Monkeemobile, the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard and the Ghostbusters van. (He doesn’t have the Batmobile. Yet.)
He’s got novelty cars.
He’s got a car he built out of scrap parts.
He’s got models he’s souped up and made his own.
He has stock cars. NASCAR models. Monster Jam models.
He likes to customize his models. He likes to attach the four-wheel-drive part from one model to another.
So what if a car is red on the box? He likes to paint models the way he sees them, not the way they look on the box, he said.
Take the model he got for Christmas. On the box, it’s white and black.
“But right there it is,” he said. “Red, white and blue with stars. I painted it and glued on the stars.
“I have this 1984 Chevy Cavalier station wagon and ’76 Nova that I painted exactly like when I had them built,” he said.
“I’ve got a NASCAR collection of drivers who aren’t driving anymore and ones who are dead,” he said. “I have the last car Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove. I’ve got cars driven by Alan Kulwicki, Davey and Bobby Allison and more.”
He put together his first fire truck about two months ago.
“I bought it at a hobby shop for nine bucks. Other places are selling it for $25. I remember, back in the ’70s, when I had $25 I could buy five models!”
He’s souped up a school bus with four-wheel drive.
He enters his models in shows and consistently comes home with ribbons and trophies, he said.
“It gives me something to do,” he said. “I have 35 years’ experience as an auto mechanic. So now I build show cars and models.
“I painted this ’56 Ford my father owned exactly like he had it. I found a picture of it and painted it.
“I enjoy doing this.
“I always take two or three models to a show, and I always walk away with blue ribbons every time,” he said.
With that many models, he’s bound to have some duplicates. He doesn’t mind.
“It’s not like it’s going to be fixed like it is on the box,” he said. “The only time I do that is if they’re famous and it’s a NASCAR or drag racing. Then I’ll fix it like it’s supposed to be.
“But if any other model comes my way, it will be done my way.
“I take one look at the directions, make sure all the parts are there, even if it’s a brand-new box and has never been opened up. After that, I trash the directions and do it my way.”
His first car was a 1964 GTO convertible.
“I gave $200 for it and sold it for $2,000,” he said. “How? I customized it. I got another transmission and fixed it up completely different than the way it was when I bought it. I stuck a ‘for sale’ sign on it and got my money.
“Another car, a Nova, I paid $1,000 for. I painted it pearl white with flames and walked away with $5,000. You can’t beat that.
“It’s something to do, a hobby,” he said of his models. “I love collecting model cars.”
He also collects stuffed animals, clocks and “anything to do” with wolves, Native Americans and tigers.
Email Debra Minor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.