For 34-year-old Harshil Gala, the CEO of Navneet Toptech—a company making digital classrooms—cars have always been a passion. And it’s not restricted to driving—he loves to collect them as well. However, he does not have a multi-storey garage to park all his beauties, but instead shelves all over the house. Gala collects model scale cars and has nearly 600 of them divided between three scales—1:18, 1:23 and 1:43. The last category being reasonably small, almost the size of Hot Wheels, a set of cars immensely popular with children. “Like most children, I loved to collect toy cars as a child, but I got introduced to model cars at an early age,” says Gala. At that time, the only model cars available were sports cars and through them, Gala was familiarised with the world of Formula 1 and motorsports in general. “I started building a loyalty towards certain teams. I am a Ferrari fan,” says Gala.
Over the years he collected a lot of cars, anything that took his fancy. It wasn’t a structured collection. Then his wife decided to give it some sort of order and structure. She finally divided it into three scales and got rid of anything that did not fall into those categories. The collection is further divided as per kind of car—SUVs, sports cars, etc., and brands—Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Mercedes.
“I am very passionate about Ferraris. I have a model scale car of every Ferrari that has participated in Formula 1 since 1999,” says Gala, who follows his favourite team to races in Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and Singapore (and also when it was held in India).
“I got a chance to drive a Ferrari around the streets of Maranello in Italy where the Ferrari factory is located. It was definitely the highlight of my life,” says Gala, laughing. His passion is well known to his family. So much so that on his wedding day, his cousins surprised him by getting him a Ferrari to go to the venue instead of the traditional horse. “They said instead of one horse you have 430, referring to the horsepower of the Ferrari,” chuckles Gala.
While most of his collection has been bought on trips abroad, he has been buying some of them online in India in the past few years. “Earlier it was very difficult to get these model cars in India but now there are a couple of sites that sell them,” says Gala, adding that he also has dealers abroad. “There is one in Germany who keeps shipping stuff to me. He has my wishlist. If there is a price drop he will send me an email.” Most cars that Gala has bought are in the `5,000-6,000 range.
Currently, Navneet Toptech is present in seven states with 2,000 schools. It hopes to take that number to 4,000 by December and become a pan-India player in the next few years.
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