A NEW Brighton car fanatic is turning trash into flash with his miniature model car replicas. Leon Vaaltein, 50, started building the vehicles after he lost his job at an abattoir in Markman in 1999.
The father of three uses anything from baked bean tins to plastic cooldrink bottles to help put food on his family’s table.
Vaaltein sells a detailed toy car replica for about R1000, with each one taking three weeks to make.
“I started making model cars with wire when I was young. When I grew up I stopped. I no longer had enough time on my hands.”
But when he lost his job, Vaaltein resumed his passion after a friend suggested he turn his childhood hobby into a business.
“I never did creative art at school. I dropped out just as I was about to start high school because there was no money at home.” he said. Vaaltein said he had recently built a BMW 1 Series.
“I used cardboard boxes and masking tape for the body which I painted and then finished off with thinners.
“For tyres, I used baked bean tins and silicone. For the windows, I use plastic sheets and Twizza bottles.”
He uses old clothing and sponges for the car seats, and even manages to put in working door handles.
“The interior has to look good. Even the doors function like those of a normal car,” he said.
Vaaltein spends about R500 to build a car but lately he has been struggling to sell them.
“It has become very difficult to convince people to buy the cars.
“It is challenging because some people just don’t want to pay.”
In the past, he would model most of his cars from magazines but he is now branching out.
“I have decided to be creative and come up with my own designs. I can make anything from buses and trucks to sports cars.” – Yoliswa Sobuwa