By Michael Petti

If you are reading this, then you probably have an appreciation for the fine hand craftsmanship that went into fabricating hearses and flower cars. You will also in all likelihood value the superbly crafted work Otto Vallastro has done creating hearses and flower cars into miniature.

Photos do not do Otto’s model vehicles justice. His miniatures are so realistic looking that some of them are at the Packard Museum in Youngstown, Ohio and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Museum in Beltsville, Maryland.

Otto has a God-given talent in which he takes blocks of balsa wood and transforms them into realistic miniatures. Vallastro uses no scales or templates, just pictures. Yet, his 1/25 – scale models are faithful to optical reality. The lines, shapes, and nuances are rendered with an exactitude that highlights Otto’s extraordinary sensitivity as a craftsman.

Otto began creating wooden models when he was 13. This was because the miniatures available during the early ‘40s were crude. He has crafted more than 200 vehicles from the 1900’s to the 1970’s. A small sampling of hearses include a 1961 Buick, 1957 Pontiac, 1979 Lincoln, and Cadillacs from various years. I particularly love the 1939 Caddy for its intricate floral patterns. Flower cars include Cadillacs from 1959 and 1966.

Otto’s models are overwhelmingly beautiful. People mistakenly think the models are metal or plastic. The polish paints provide a rich effect. Vallastro makes his models for display. The wheels do not move. In short, Otto’s sculptures are for those with a discerning appreciation. One can buy a model already made or have Vallastro make the professional car you desire.

Otto’s miniatures are secured to a base with a transparent cover to protect the model from dust. He also sends you a photo of the model with a personal notation. The miniature, display case, and photo make a wonderful and thoughtful gift for any professional car collector buff.

Write to Otto at 21 Ash Grove Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24502. would like to extend a special Thank you to Michael Petti for this article. If you have an idea or an article you would like to see on the site, please let us know using the “Contact Us” links at the top of the page.

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