Nabil Karam Museum, car paradise
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Nabil Karam Museum, car paradise

In Zouk Mosbeh, there are many miniature cars that fill the museum of Nabil Karam, eight-time Lebanese rally and hillclimb champion. And that’s not all: you can also find the real helmets in the museum that belonged to great racing drivers, such as Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher. Photos of the collector, nicknamed “Billy”, with rally, endurance and F1 champions, there is no shortage of them either. But where did this idea come from?

A sibling story

Nabil Karam’s passion for small cars began some 35 years ago when he saw a miniature Rothmans Porsche, the same one he won rally champion in Lebanon in 1986. He says: “It started when I was at the Paris Motor Show. I tried to buy small cars when I couldn’t buy big ones. Eventually I got all the cars I drove. Then all the Porsches I wish I had and all the race cars I wanted to drive but couldn’t buy, and so on. »

In 1997, the collector took over the representation for Lebanon of the German company Minichamps, which makes miniature racing cars. “Billy” then decides to buy 1000 at once. But by collecting them, he soon has no more space in the cupboards in his house and therefore has to find a place to store all his small items. His brother is also on the adventure, but thinks bigger, by collecting “real” cars, “Classic Cars”, old cars over 30 years old. In order to dispose of them, the two brothers agree and share a corner of their warehouse, each having their own room to store their collection. With the help of storage, they enlarge the small space which, 30 years later, is almost 1600 m².

“Billy” holds three Guinness World Records. Photo DR

“The museum is the mirror of what has influenced my life”

This museum is overflowing with objects of all kinds, therefore, such as models related to the war, trains, planes, boats and many cars and illustrated. Enough to allow Nabil Karam to accumulate three Guinness World Records: he actually has the largest number of miniature cars, models and stamps representing cars in the world.

Real racing driver helmets, such as Ayrton Senna’s, are on display in the museum. Photo DR

The Billy Karam Museum is full of fascinating stories and anecdotes. Also, some important people from the community had the opportunity to travel there. Frenchman Jean Todt, for example, former president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), who came there three times. It is also with him that Nabil Karam (Vice President of the Automobile and Touring Club of Lebanon, ATCL) felt the need to convey a road safety message to young Lebanese. Since the entrance to the museum is actually free, many school classes come to visit it. “Put on your seat belt, be careful, don’t use your mobile phone when driving,” says the owner. The “Safety On the Road” initiative has also won him the Humanitarian Sports Icon award for the year 2017-2018 at the God Awards in the United Nations.

Nabil Karam also had the crazy opportunity to house two Formula 1 cars in his museum when in 2018 the Red Bull Racing team and racing driver Carlos Sainz performed a demonstration in the heart of Beirut.

Nabil Karam (r.) and Carlos Sainz (f.) together with the Spanish driver’s Red Bull RB13. Photo DR

If the severe economic crisis that has ravaged Lebanon since 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic have dampened the zeal of the collector, racing car fans of all ages will not be disappointed in the Billy Karam Museum.

In Zouk Mosbeh, there are many miniature cars that fill the museum of Nabil Karam, eight-time Lebanese rally and hillclimb champion. And that’s not all: you can also find the real helmets in the museum that belonged to great racing drivers, such as Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher. Pictures of the collector with the nickname…

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