The late Manuel Olive Sans was, and still is the master of scratch built models, he was the best of the best. We don’t say that lightly. There are many factors as to why we are certain of this, and while all scratch built models are true works of art….. well there is something about an Olive piece that makes it stand out above all others. His art can be found in the private collections of some of the most notable collectors in the world including captains of industry and Royalty.
Olive’s college education was in mechanical engineering, and he was initially following the same path as his father, building model trains, but during his time in the Military (mid 1940s) he built his first model car, and that was a turning point for him, thus began his career building mostly model cars. He also built some fabulous Motorcycle, Truck, and Gramophone models. He made patterns/masters for several model companies, some went into production, and some never came to be. The smallest models he made were in 1:43 scale, and the largest was a huge 1:5 Fiat, for the Fiat museum, which was personally commissioned by Giovanni “Gianni” Agnelli.
Over his career it is estimated that Olive made approximately 400 models; that estimate includes patterns for model companies, and his limited edition runs of Gramophone models. The majority of his automobile models were made in 1:20 scale, and most of those were curb side only (no opening panels). Motorcycles were another passion; each being very highly detailed and made in 1:15 scale. His larger 1:12 and 1:10 scale models started being built around 1962/64. Those were all very time consuming, and each one of those took 12 to 18 months to complete – working 7 days per week, 8-12 hours per day. Various models by Olive have been featured in numerous international publications over several decades.
Many of Olive’s 1:20 models were one of one, each built one at a time, though he did make a few of the Mercer Raceabout as well as a few of the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing. It should be noted that all of his large scale (1:12 – 1:10) models are one-of-a-kind works of art, staying true to his self imposed edict that each piece must be unique – the only one.