For years Beirut Lebanon has been blighted with internal strifes that have made war and conflict a part of everyday life. Yet amidst the conflict and violence, Billy Karam has managed to find a piece of serenity in his own world. For decades, Karam has collected almost 300,000 model cars and about 400 dioramas – a Guinness World Record in both categories. Two things have influenced him to build the collection he has today: his love for cars, as well as the theft of his first car collection during the Lebanese Civil War. At a very early age, his older brother instilled in him a love for cars. Growing up he and his older brother both collected cars, creating their first collection. Unfortunately for them, their collection would be maliciously stolen during the Lebanese Civil War, stirring in him an even greater need to recover his collection. Not knowing it at the time, this event was probably one of the most influential reasons he has broken two Guinness World Records today.
What makes Billy Karam’s car collection so much more special is what he creates with it. His dioramas not only showcase his toy car collection in fun and creative ways, they also document very important historic and personal events in his life. As a racer, he and his brother raced in countless events which Karam documents in his dioramas. Many of his pieces show moments of triumph and excitement that he immortalizes.
Even more impactful are his dioramas documenting the Lebanese Civil War, a long and bloody conflict that lasted fifteen difficult years. “ We are showing what happened in Lebanon, without taking sides, to show the new generation what happened, but without commenting… We are not proud of these wars, but is there a Lebanese who was not affected?”
Now much older, he and his brother still both share a love for racing cars, as well as collecting them. He races frequently abroad, while overseeing his Museum during his free time. “I don’t want to get old, I want to stay young, and this is a way of staying young. It’s a part of me that I don’t want to lose, so I can get the best of the whole world and put it in one place.” Don’t we all.