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The Brotherhood of Model Car Collectors

Henk Koop and Mark Wegh
Porsche Collectors’ Day 2023, Heteren, Netherlands

2,000 visitors in one weekend? The numbers speak for themselves: visitors come from all over Europe and from many other parts of the world besides. It’s a full house, as Henk Koop, organizer and President of the Porsche Model Club Europe, tells us. "100 exhibitors and 400 meters full of model cars, literature, stickers, and everything else there is to collect around Porsche."

The international swap has developed into an early season highlight, and that’s not only due to the ever-increasing passion for Porsche model cars – in fact, the venue itself has its own fans.

Mark Wegh, owner of the Porsche Center and Classic Center Gelderland, is himself a passionate model car collector. His specialty? The most extensive 356 model collection in the world. Visitors, customers and Club members are all invited to view his collection of Porsche vehicles, Volkswagens and Jagd- und Kübelwagen. After all, he’s not just a collector, but a Porsche Club enthusiast through and through.

So the almost inevitable combination of these two enthusiasts results in a community hotspot of a special kind: many Clubs use the Collectors’ Day as a destination point for their first seasonal outing. "We had Club teams here from Germany and even from France," Henk tells us. The Federations sent their delegations. As a result, the swap popped up in stories on Instagram and YouTube. "Outside in the car park were hundreds of cars with number plates from all over Europe. From 356s to GT2s, there was just about everything." Inside, of course, it was all about the smaller scales.

Henk and Mark met in 2007, when Henk was looking for a Cayenne. Mark had just opened his center a year earlier. To help Henk with his decision, he personally brought a 6-cylinder and an 8-cylinder version to his door for a test drive. "Yes – and as he was already at my house, I also showed him my miniature collection right away." It turned out that they both share the same passion – model cars. "That was the beginning of our friendship," Mark recalls. "After that, we talked about model cars for two hours and completely forgot about the two Cayennes outdoors.” Henk eventually took the 6-cylinder; since then the two have been a team when it comes to their passion for model cars.

Mark Wegh and Henk Koop

After that, Henk takes Mark to the international swaps in Los Angeles, and Mark knows that Henk has been organizing the Porsche swap meet in Stuttgart since 1997. Inevitably, he asks: "Can't we do something like that in my Porsche Center? In 2015, the time came. First at the Porsche Center and then, a year later, at the world's first newly opened Porsche Classic Center Gelderland in Heteren, near Arnhem. Since then, it has been the epicenter of miniature car collectors, interrupted only by one exception in 2017, when Henk promised Hans-Peter Porsche to bring the Porsche Collectors’ Day to Ammer – in the opening year of the Traumwerk.

"The connection with Mark Wegh is unique," Henk enthuses. "Mark is a collector and Porsche enthusiast through and through … He's not only a super businessman, but also a real Porsche guy." This is also evident in the hospitality experienced at the center, in the way Mark guides tours, provides food and drinks, and looks after and accompanies guests and Porsche fans. His center is a living room of Porsche passion.

While Henk is the proud owner of the most extensive Porsche book and literature collection, Mark specialises in 356 models – and the most extensive Porsche sheet metal collection. "So models from the 50s and 60s – Schuko and JNF models, I have almost everything there." It’s a charming sight to see all these models standing among the originals in his Classic Centre. "Having Collectors’ Day and Henk here is also a fulfilment of being a collector for me."

Time and again, Henk and Mark wander together through the overflowing rows of treasures and collectibles. Are they on the lookout for the ultimate barn find en miniature? What does someone who already has almost everything – who has seen everything – buy? "There was nothing left for me in the books, of course – I actually have everything. But I did find a few Japanese model cars from the 1980s. That made me happy," Henk tells us about his little collector's luck. And Mark? "At some point, it's no longer just about the collectibles, but about the friendship," Mark muses. "Passion is friendship," Henk adds. "We cultivate our brotherhood collecting model cars."