With artisans across three workshops in the UK, Hungary and China, Amalgam has been offering its scale automobile model services for over a quarter of a century. Founder Sandy Copeman first approached the Jordan Grand Prix and Williams Formula 1 teams in 1995, offering meticulous renditions of their cars for display and gifting purposes. Copeman approached Ferrari in 1998, and Amalgam has since been embraced as part of ‘La Famiglia Ferrari’ (The Ferrari Family), creating beautiful scale replicas of every subsequent Ferrari Formula 1 car, and every Ferrari road car since 2006.
Amalgam’s methods have parallels with those of the finest watchmakers; in fact, Copeman has one particular inspiration in mind: “We are the only maker of model cars that can be considered alongside a maker of fine watches like Richard Mille”, explains Copeman. “Every one of the models that Amalgam make, whether it be for a private collector or a world-famous driver is the very best we can achieve with no effort or expense spared. We are continually striving to reach new levels of craftsmanship and to create masterpieces of model-making art with enduring value. In fact, Richard himself is the owner of a number of our scale models, which is probably the best testimony we could ever hope for! If you can take a high-resolution photograph and put it in front of somebody, and they have no idea whether they’re looking at a model or the real car, then we’ve done our job.”
Amalgam’s models beautifully and precisely capture the entirety of the original car, but how does a model go from concept to a finished piece? In the case of more modern cars, the Amalgam team works from original CAD drawings, supplied from the manufacturers or motorsport teams, to produce precise CAD models of each car part for the model. Regarding classics, CAD designs for each part are created from digital scans of an original car. Around 1000 reference photographs are taken, ensuring every aspect and detail of each car is captured. “We are currently developing a 1:8 scale model of the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato 1 VEV, for which we have been granted access to the original car,” Copeman says. “This is one of the most important cars in Aston Martin’s history, a stunningly beautiful design. It’s an incredibly exciting project for us.”
Once every detail of the car has been captured in miniature, patterns are created for the individual parts. 3D printing and CNC machining are combined with traditional machining and hand working techniques to create the precise master components. Moulds are made using the patterns and parts are cast in prototyping resin. The models are primarily crafted from finest quality resins rather than diecast, as resin casting delivers far superior detailing. Authentic materials are used when appropriate, but never at the expense of realism: “We use metal, carbon fibre and rubber-like synthetic in models. I’m sometimes asked about whether we use leather to recreate the seats, but it does not scale down effectively, and delivers a toy like appearance. Instead, we use artistic spray finishes and paint effects to recreate the look of the leather at scale,” states Copeman.
After the parts are cast, they are washed, cleaned and sanded, before being fettled and fitted to ensure they fit together perfectly. The parts are then primed, spray-painted and polished. Decals and printed finishes are applied, subassemblies such as engines, wheel hubs and suspensions are built, followed by final assembly.
The company’s flagship models at 1:8 scale measure roughly 60cm long (car dependent, naturally), and can potentially take between 2,500 (for a Formula 1 racer) and 5,000 hours (for ultra-detailed and complex classic cars) to develop the first prototype. Only once the manufacturer, team or client are satisfied with the accuracy of representation, does batch production commence. Each subsequent model takes between 250 and 450 hours to complete.
Amalgam’s outstanding automotive models at 1:8 scale are produced in very small numbers, in editions usually limited to a maximum of 99 or 199 of each design. Not that the offering is restricted to 1:8 scale replicas of cars; Amalgam also offers models at 1:18 and 1:12 scales, whilst Formula 1 fanatics can enjoy a model of a car’s nosecone at 1:12 scale or a steering wheel replica at life size (1:1) or 1:4 scale. The company regularly builds models at the very large scales of 1:4 and 1:5 (between 90cm and 1.2m long) particularly for motorsport teams and their sponsors. In 2020, Amalgam also introduced a range of miniature sculptures, with the aim to capture the essence of the most sculpturally interesting and outrageous designs throughout the history of the car.
As for customization, Amalgam offer a tailor-made service, creating perfect 1:8 scale replicas of cars for owners of the real thing. Due to the company’s close relationships with the automotive manufacturers, Amalgam can reproduce every aspect of a car’s specification, right down to the colour of the stitching on the seats.
Amalgam’s list of elite clientele contains not only Formula 1 teams, drivers (past and present) and managers, but also many famous names from the design, arts and entertainment worlds. The world’s leading retailers are proud to offer these extraordinary pieces of model art, including MR PORTER and the SKP store in Beijing. Ralph Lauren commissioned 1:8 models of the 17 most important cars in his collection, that were displayed at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 2011 during the exhibition ‘The Art of the Automobile: Masterpieces from the Ralph Lauren Collection’. These models, and now a collection at 1:18 scale, continue to be available to buy at the flagship Ralph Lauren stores worldwide. Watchmaker Richard Mille commissioned several 1:5 scale models of cars from his collection, which contains some of the rarest and most significant vintage race cars. He continues to commission models at 1:5 for gifting to his most important patrons.
For their wealthiest clients, Amalgam offers a Unique Commissions service, a true “if you can dream it, they can build it” service, that goes well beyond cars. Amalgam have crafted one-off models for owners and makers of private jets and yachts, replicated architecture at scale, and created special art pieces for personal and commercial projects, tapping into a deep network of skilled artisans and creatives across a broad range of disciplines to complement their own 30 years plus of experience.
“We at Amalgam recognize that climate change is the biggest threat to human health and security in the future. This is why we are acting now and taking steps to alter our business to minimize its impact on the environment at large. We are in the early stages of a sizeable program which is now core to every decision we make at Amalgam.
Whilst our obsessive approach to model building does produce waste, we are aiming to reduce our environmental impact across the organization and have already begun to phase unnecessary plastic from our product packaging. Furthermore, we have started recycling programs in each of our workshops to reuse every material we can and to ensure any waste is disposed of correctly. At a product level, all of our models are timeless; they are built to last and are designed to be enjoyed as a beautiful exhibit eternally.”
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