Man shares his passion for car collection
Updated: March 17, 2012 8:02AM
Joe DiNovo, 84, has a small museum in the basement of his Norridge home devoted to his collection of 23,000 Matchbox cars.
Display cases and boxes are stacked from floor to ceiling featuring the small toy cars that he collected over the last 50 years. Many are still in their original boxes.
“I have more in the garage that I can’t put in,” DiNovo said. “There’s no room for anything. I need a bigger house.”
Originally a train collector, the retired mail carrier used to sell Matchbox cars at toy shows along with his trains. He would keep the remaining unsold and buy new cases of cars to sell at the next toy show and so on until the unsold cars started to stack up and become their own collection.
There’s only a small corner of the basement free of cars where the washer and dryer are. His wife, Marion, put up a sign reading, “Do not put anything in front of my cabinets,” in all caps to keep stray boxes of cars away. She calls the basement, “the dungeon” because he spends a lot of time arranging how the cars are displayed in their cases.
DiNovo’s favorite Matchbox car is a van that he got custom made eight years ago to celebrate his 52nd anniversary with his wife. It resembles a real van that he used to drive that had Chicago Bears logos on it. He just had another set of custom Matchbox cars made for their 60th anniversary in December to give to family and friends.
When asked why he has so many toy cars – as he is often asked by visitors – he replies, “I don’t drink, smoke or womanize, so that’s why I have all this stuff and I’m happy to have it.”
“I really, really enjoy the hobby,” he said. “I think everybody should have a little hobby.”
— Ryan Pagelow