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Hagerty Employee

Model Citizen: Paint and body man gives "dead" cars their due in 1/25 scale | Hagerty Media

The entire classic and collector car hobby is built on the concept of preservation and restoration. It's the reason many readers come to the Historic Vehicle Association website each day. It's written right into the HVA's mission: "Through the collective efforts of enthusiasts, specialists, and professionals, the HVA aims to help ensure that our automotive heritage is more broadly appreciated and carefully preserved for future generations."

Mike's realism is "unreal"!
I've seen other people doing this same thing, but none of them I've seen were this good.
I had to look at the picture of the '66 Fairlane gasser in the garage multiple times to figure out that the car and garage were not the real deal. Can't imagine the patience that goes into doing these.
Advanced Driver

I looked and looked at that '66 Fairlane a long time, too. Even the lighting is unbelievable. The light coming through the "garage door", and the light coming through eave rafters above the wall? Simply astounding!

Absolutely fabulous!!!!!

Best junkyard ever!!!
Advanced Driver

Amazing and fascinating work !
Intermediate Driver

Great work, truly an artist!

Maybe this junkyard is on the outskirts of Elgin Park?
Pit Crew

Michael Smith would have loved it! I had the privilege of writing about him, too.

This made my day - lol on the burned out Pinto
Super work!!!
Hagerty Employee
Hagerty Employee

Needs a 1/25 scale Tom Cotter figurine! 😆
Intermediate Driver

This is art in its truest form. An incredible eye for visual accuracy and authenticity....down to the tiniest detail. The photography is also a huge part of the visual experience.
If I happened upon Mike's display at a car show, I'd hover around the table as well...probably miss the rest of the show. Like all artists, I envy their ability to make a living doing something that they truly enjoy.
Pit Crew

Wow very impressive! Four grand is pretty cheap for that kind of work. I found myself duplicating mine and friends classic cars using 1:64 hot wheels cars and putting them back in the cardboard/plastic cases and giving them away. The detail is not as impressive as Mr. McGee's but always brings a smile. Favorites are a '66 Galaxy, 2012 GT500, '58 Fury (Christine), and a '57 Chevy.
New Driver

What a gift! Mike takes us all down memory lane in the finest way. My Dad took his old cars to a junkyard body guy with ratty old Saint Bernard watchdogs in Philly. I followed suit with my first beater.
Intermediate Driver

Pure artistic genius.

Ditto. I can't say it any better.
New Driver

This is some good stuff here.
Everybody should check this Kid out!
Intermediate Driver

Amazing detail!
Pit Crew

Excellent attention to details. Somebody has been picking up and sweeping, makes it easier to find your tools.
Intermediate Driver


Wonderful work! Don't stop, do a book for the rest of us!!!

Mike, you should put together a demo reel of your work. You'd be in very high demand for special effects in films.
Intermediate Driver

Incredible! Keep up the great work!
Intermediate Driver

The most incredibly done diorama I have ever seen. How did he get that so realistic burned car look. It looks all so real. I want to go to that scrap yard. FOR REAL!

This would make a great addition to a G-Scale train set.

Wow; incredible work. Love how he started with this. Usually the best comes from passion and the understanding of like- minded folks.
Intermediate Driver

I had a 1976 Chevy Caprice 2dr just like the model. Still miss that car. Got it used when I was in high school. Saw it years later at the junkyard. I had no room at the time for it so I had to let it go. Great talent to do such awesome work.
Advanced Driver

If I'd not had the lead in of "in 1/25th scale", I would have sworn that I was observing an overhead view of a REAL junkyard! In my model building days, I attempted to create one or two "wrecked" cars, but I was too much of a perfectionist who always wanted my models to look pristine. This artistry is simply astounding; it reminds me of an article that I read awhile ago about an artist (who's name can't remember) who created extremely life-like dioramas of vintage buildings and cars
as well! 🙂
Pit Crew

You may be thinking of Michael Paul Smith. I wrote about him as well.

Thank you. Wonderful creativity and skill.

What else can I say but simply awesome!
Pit Crew

OK, this article was off the beaten path of reviewing actual cars and I loved it. I had hot wheels and match box cars in the day, but never in my wildest dreams had I ever thought of this. So cool!
Intermediate Driver

what a talented and creative man. Just thinking of doing this is incredible, to have the ability to do it amazes me. I would love to have a dioramas of these models in my basement. Who does'nt love junk yards!
Intermediate Driver

Coming from Windsor Ontario this guy knows RUST. I am amazed at the re-creation of the rust holes and surface rust on each particular car. Pure genius.
Pit Crew

PHENOMENAL!!! This guy is amazing!!!
Intermediate Driver

Looks like a Michael Paul Smith of "Elgin Park" fame re-incarnated! Once again I have been fooled!

Michael's real emphasis though was on building and furnishing the structures... tuned to the scale of 1:25 to match the collector series of model cars that came already assembled and true to form.

This artist is just wonderful in his own right... I could have sworn it was an aerial shot of a real junkyard! Congrats and thanks!
New Driver

Like Papa-Tony below I could have thought I was seeing an aerial view of a real junk yard. But the Ferrari 250 sitting there... That car would be worth over a million or maybe a few million since they go for 20 million in good shape. But I'm not here to nitpick. The 250's appearance involved me all the more--got me thinking this way. Then I started looking for more valuable cars. What an awesome sight. Looking at it brings up memories, and memories that I would like to have. Thanks very much for introducing it here.
Intermediate Driver

It would be so much easier to clean up my hoard at this level than what I am dealing with right now in real life. My back is killing me!
Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

Shockingly realistic models of my favorite shopping malls.
Pit Crew

Absolutely Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pit Crew

I have been building model cars in 1/24th scale for over 50 years and have never seen anything that was this great before. Using 'real rust'! I've seen people trying to duplicate rust, myself included, especially in military vehicles but nothing compares. The scrap pile is simply awesome.
Advanced Driver

If only I had kept the hundreds of 1/25 scale models I had as a kid from 1959 on. 😞
Intermediate Driver

Mike you are an awesome artist. I loved building model cars. Started a 9 years old until my 30's. If I get to old to work on my real cars I will diffidently get back into models again. IF I see a kit I like I buy it.. Just can't find the time to build them. You have inspired me.
New Driver

This is really cool!!! Check out a neighbor of yours from NJ, Manny. Here is a video:
Pit Crew

I used to steal some money out of Mom's handbag to buy my AMTs. I couldn't help myself. I got very good at putting those things together and making them look "real". Nothing like this though. This is a real talent Mike has developed, very creative, and expert. Closest I got: a friend of mine used to like to stage "accidents". So we used a single burner electric hotplate to soften our cars, bendng the "metal".
Intermediate Driver

What a "Really", "Really" - Cool hobby and the results the same. These classics show what most of those cars ended up looking like. Ok Ok, I'll admit after I read the first few paragraphs and understood what was going on I simply scrolled and looked at the pics.....but still enjoyed the article and now want to get a few models and see how bad I can make them look; although thinking back to my model making days that may not be that difficult. Anyway, cool, enjoyed it article.
New Driver

Comments before mine say it all... McGee's work is simply fantastic! I consider myself to have an eye for details but this is 'over the top'. Thank you Mike for your work -- and many thanks to Hagerty for giving it the public attention it deserves. This work needs to be in the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum or the Museum of Modern Art. More people - and not just car geeks like us - need to see this. Mike's talent goes far beyond the love of cars.
New Driver

I am so impressed at the realism of these models and grounds in which they rest.
I was a big modeler back in the day. I got my first model, A 1958 Ford Skyliner when I was 5 years old. My dad helped me glue it together. At the time I had contracted Rheumatic Fever so I needed something to keep me occupied while I was confined to my bed.
I was so excited that I could assemble these models and by the time I was better(I was in bed for 18 months straight), I had amassed a fleet of nearly 3 dozen models.
I kept modeling until I was in my early 20s' trying to make every car or truck that I owned.
It's a great hobby for concentration and coordination and self esteem.
Kudos to Mike, I am so envious of his work!!!
Pit Crew

Wow, Mike, what a wonderful gift you have! "Artistic" doesn't begin to describe what you've done. Thanks for sharing!!
New Driver

Guy at Barrett-Jackson, had similar, but were metal. These here, are great!
Pit Crew

As a kid in the 50's I built many Revell & Monogram models and loved doing it. I picked this back up in my 40's with airbrushing stripped diecast cars. Just wish I had the talent to create a display like this. Hope he considers allowing a museum to display it. That would be great.