The Southern Courier | Kiwi Zhou, the man with the 900 Porsches… miniatures

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For three months, the Porsche Experience Center complex in Shanghai, China, offered its visitors an impressive exhibition dedicated to the history of the brand. A few hundred cars, from the 356 “N°1” roadster to the E 99X electric single-seater in Formula E, offer a remarkable panorama of its history. But this exhibition is all the more unusual in that it is the work of a single man, the Chinese Kiwi Zhou, in addition to being composed exclusively of cars… miniatures!

Kiwi Zhou says he started collecting scale models by accident nine years ago. Recruited by the sales department of Porsche (China) Motors Limited, his entry into service coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 911. “We organized a competition for the employees whose prize was a 911 miniature edition 50 Jahre. This car that I won sparked real passion,” he says.

This passion grew gradually as Zhou collected miniatures of iconic road and racing models. Models for which he begins to devour all the information he finds in books and on the internet to better understand their role and their importance in the history of the brand.

A passion fueled by victories at Le Mans

Porsche’s victory at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans amplified its interest in the marque. As a result, his collection grew exponentially. “This victory inspired me and I started collecting all the models that had won a Le Mans victory between 1970 and 2015,” says Zhou. “That year, we were talking about 17 vehicles, but the following year it was 18 and a year later 19! »

As his collection grew, consisting of 1:43 and 1:18 scale models, Zhou began posting it on social media. He also used his miniatures to tell the story of Porsche to anyone who wanted to hear it. New reading led him to discover lesser-known parts of this story, which immediately prompted him to seek out new cars to complete his collection. It is also sometimes the discovery of a miniature of an unknown model that leads him to explore in more detail his links with the German manufacture.

In a humorous tone, he explains that there are two ways to collect figurines: “You learn the story and you buy the model, or you buy the model and you learn the story! » »

His favorite: the 917/30 Can-Am

Asked to choose his favorite miniature, Zhou does not hesitate to point the finger at the single-seater 917/30 Can-Am. “This 1:18 scale model is very detailed. You can remove the covers to see the chassis, engine and turbochargers. It represents the pinnacle of model building. And since I didn’t have the chance to study engineering, it helps me understand the mechanics of racing cars. I can watch it for half a day and discover something new every time. »

Over time, Zhou’s bosses realized that his enthusiasm and knowledge offered great potential for another line of business in their company. That’s why he was promoted to director of public relations. As such, he is now responsible for the brand’s communication on the story and the products. His vignettes serve him regularly, for example, when he has to make presentations to the media.

An exposure by the shortage of vehicles

Then, in 2021, when the supply of new cars was drastically reduced, the management of the Center had the idea of ​​carrying out the current exhibition. The director wanted visitors to have something special to see. It was then that he suggested Zhou fill the empty space with a mural showcasing his collection.

An elaborate module incorporating the Porsche name was built to accommodate seven large three-dimensional dioramas placing miniatures in different settings, from desert rallies to racetracks and cityscapes. On this long wall, 480 Zhou scale models also provide a fascinating timeline of Porsche’s journey from the humble sawmill in Gmünd, Austria, to its most recent achievements. In total, around 700 of the approximately 900 cars in his collection can be seen in this unique exhibition.

“There is no limit to such a collection,” says Zhou. He also estimates that he will add a hundred new figures this year and as many in the years to come. “After all, I regularly discover models that I don’t know or that are hard to find. This is without counting the novelties that the manufacturer launches each year. After nine years in the service of Porsche, my collection will soon number 900 miniatures. However, next year I hope to reach the magic number of 1000! »

Photos: Porsche

The text Kiwi Zhou, the man with the Porsche 900…miniatures comes from L’annuel de l’automobile

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