Museum shines a light on auto history
Updated: 2015-05-06


Li Yi has collected more than 1,400 model commercial vehicles over the past two decades and built the China Commercial Vehicle Models Museum in Jiading district. [Photo by]

Li Yi, an entrepreneur in Shanghai, has built a museum for his collection of more than 1,400 commercial model vehicles in Jiading district.

Li, 55, adored model cars and trucks since he was a child. While working in a company supplying van hardware, he sometimes received custom-made van models as gifts and has been collecting model commercial vehicles for more than two decades.

"I dreamed of building such a museum since 1996, since I attended auto shows around the world and was fascinated with trucks made in different countries," Li said.

Last August, the private China Commercial Vehicle Models Museum opened to the public. The 2,000-square-meter museum is in a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) style building with a large lotus pond in front of the house.

Entering the museum, visitors are first faced with a long-head semi-trailer model branded "King" made in the US. Li spent 4,000 yuan purchasing it at a flea market in Japan in 2011. It was made according to the original vehicle with a proportion of 1:14. With batteries, the trailer could run like a real truck, its headlights lit and its diesel engine roared.

"Though it is a model, it has impressive power and torque. It can even withstand the weight of an adult man," Li said.


The major exhibition hall occupies about 200 sq m, with vehicle models in different categories: trailers, fire engines, military vehicles and others. Li said that it is quite difficult to collect truck models, which are normally made in small scale as gifts and seldom sold in the market. In recent years, he regularly went abroad to search for van models in flea markets to add to his collection.

In the museum’s interaction area, visitors can learn how the tower crane, pile driver, concrete pump truck and concrete mixer cooperate to build high-rises. Visitors can also operate fire engines by remote control to finish some basic tasks, such as spraying water on the target.

"I am very happy to show the collection with other auto fans---it is the fans’ fascination that makes the models invaluable," Li said, adding that the museum is also a venue to spread vehicle knowledge to youngsters. More than 500 teenagers have visited the museum since it opened.

Li is planning to enlarge the main exhibition hall to 500 square meters to showcase more models.


12 Dazhi Road, Malu town, Jiading New City 嘉定新城(马陆镇)大治路12号


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