Note: This feature is in the April TT&C 2018 issue.
Truck modelers often make unexpected changes with their collection or customizing. Jim Whitacre is one such builder, as he explained: “For years, I worked almost exclusively in 1/34 scale. The market for that scale seemed to be dropping off, so I’ve switched to customizing 1/16 scale trucks.”
Jim’s interest in crafting truck replicas can be traced to his youth. “Building things is something I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid. I first built trucks and dragsters from kits. I even tapped into woodworking for a period of time. Altering existing models into something not available through the commercial market held a special interest. It sets them apart—makes them unusual—and, therefore, more valuable than standard model releases,” Jim commented.
In the past, Jim focused on making custom pieces for collector friends and acquaintances. Amassing a cache of model trucks did not hold his interest, but that has changed as well.
“The 1/16 scale models I’m now building hold a new interest. My wife, Kelly, along with our two sons, Cole and Cory, are firmly planted here in Coldwater, Ohio. So, it’s time to build display cases in our basement and start my own collection,” Jim related.
Jim developed an interest in quality trucks through a sequence of events. The most significant influence was his father when he was growing up in Celina, Ohio.
“I was fortunate in spending a lot of time with my dad as he tinkered in the garage. I would help Dad repair bicycles and cars, or whatever he was working on at the time. As I grew older, Dad and I were heavily involved in the drag racing circuit. I’m fortunate to have that experience. It helped me understand the importance of detail, along with quality engineering,” he shared.
“When you’re drag racing, every detail must be in order. And, quality engineering of the engine and dragster is very important. Appreciation for these qualities have carried over into my custom work,” he emphasized.