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Small-Scale Race Cars

Inside Marco Laviola’s Model Car Shop

If you appreciate vehicles as a form of art, which we suspect you do, then you will no doubt also appreciate what Marco Laviola is able to create. Marco, better known as marlinlav on Instagram, lives in Southern Italy in Puglia, which is located in the ‘heel’ of Italy. Ever since he was a child, Marco took a great interest in cars and engines, particularly super cars, and today, he’s transformed that passion into building scale models of historic race cars and motorcycles.

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It’s not surprising Marco ended up with a hobby of building scale models. What is surprising is the level of detail he can achieve, making you feel as if you’re looking at the real thing.

“When I was a kid, my favorite amusement was playing with Lego,” Laviola says. “Step by step, I built my skills up to work with wood and fretwork. I became more and more interested in building objects with my hands, therefore I improved my techniques and started making model kits. My father, Antonio, is a sculptor and he introduced me to the world of materials such as resins, varnishes and molds.”

It was at this point that Marco took an interest in RC car model making, where, besides the design of the body, there was also the mechanics of the internal combustion engine, which made these small, radio-controlled race cars go fast.

“I started entering into competitions,” Laviola says. “You had to take great care not only in driving, but also in the many controls of trim and the motor. I did this for several years and it gave me the opportunity to study the model racing world. After that experience, I concentrated on building static race cars. I wanted to catch the smallest details and reproduce these cars in scale. I wanted my models to have the illusion of looking at a real car.”

Today, Marco does a lot of F1 race cars such as Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren, a 1988 McLaren MP4/4, a Ferrari F2000, a Williams FW14, Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari 312T4. He does super cars such as Ferrari’s 250 GTO, the LaFerrari, the Testarossa, the Modena, Alfa Romeos, and Mercedes-Benz 300 SLs. He also builds motorcycles such as infamous Harley-Davidsons, Hondas, Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha YZR-M1, and even Vespas. But, he doesn’t just build cars and motorcycles. Marco has been known to dabble in models of boats, airplanes, trucks, and tractors, too.

The builds feature every detail of the real vehicle both inside and out. According to Marco, building scale models at a 1:18 or 1:24 scale is not his favorite. He prefers the larger 1:5 or 1:8 scale models, however, those larger models are more demanding, and he says 1:18 scale models tend to have the best dimensions. 

“You can appreciate all the details and you can have a remarkable visual effect,” he says. “I always feel excited when I make models. Before making a model, I search images, descriptions, videos, and above all, texts describing the real car, the driver, stories about it, etc. I do all of that because the refined scale model must have this effect of giving the same emotions of the real car and the illusion that you are watching a real car thanks to all those details.” 

The time needed to make a scale model depends on the model itself, the level of difficulty, if Marco already has spare parts or ready material, and if he’s made a certain model before or not. 

“There are many factors which influence the length of the work, but in general, it covers a range of a minimum of one or two months to a maximum of six months,” he says.

While Marco has been making models for a long time, he recently joined Instagram a few years ago as a way to show off his builds and interact with potential customers. You can find him on Instagram at @marlinlav and see plenty of photos and videos of his impeccable work. 

“My only social media is Instagram,” he says. “That’s where I started posting photos and videos of the various stages of my model making for fun. Thanks to this channel, I am now well-known almost internationally. I can interface with all sorts of people, which is an even greater stimulus to keep building and improve what I am making.” 

Since joining Instagram in 2018, Marco now has more than 40,000 followers and climbing. His global follower base comes from every part of the world, particularly the Emirates, United States, Australia, Asia (especially Japan), Europe, and Brazil. He can also count some well-known people among his followers such as race car drivers Nelson Piquet Jr., Mika Salo, Eddie Irvine, and Antonio Pizzonia, as well as personalities such as Paul Teutul, Wayne Carini and Jimmy Diresta.

When Marco first started his hobby, he made what cars he personally liked best. However, as his popularity and skills have grown, the requests to build specific cars has grown along with that. 

“Now, I exclusively make models as customer requests,” Laviola says. “I always show every single phase of the model making on my Instagram channel, but even more, I show a private customer particular details about assembling and finishing the model using photos and videos. When I am at a crucial point, I set a date with my customer to show them live the way I am working in that exact moment, so they get involved. This way, my customer has the sensation of making the model together with me.”

Just as the time it takes Marco to finish a particular model depends on many factors, so too does the price of his builds. Price depends on the type of model, the time needed to make it, the parts and components involved, and the difficulty level. 

The market for his small-scale models primarily includes car and super car collectors, enthusiasts and race fans who want to display a perfect reproduction dream car. According to Marco, his followers and customers regularly give him favorable remarks, even as Marco continues to broaden the kinds of models he creates.

“There are a lot of models I’d still like to build,” he says. “I love race cars of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. I am crazy for the cars driven by Fangio, Farina, Campari, and above all, the ‘Flying Modenese’ Tazio Nuvolari.”

With a never-ending supply of cool cars, motorcycles, boats, and airplanes to recreate on a smaller scale, Marco has plenty of opportunity to keep wowing people with his craft. EB

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