Model cars have been produced for almost as long as real automobiles. Built to scale in great detail out of materials like wood, resin, tin, steel, cast iron, and plastic, collectible model cars run the gamut from the commonplace to the exotic.

Tin model cars, made mostly in Germany, were popular in the early 1900s. Some were just push-toys, but others were powered by tiny clockwork (wind up) systems. They were larger than the model cars we think of today and often built at larger scales. Some of the most notable large models built were the 1/8 and 1/11 promotional models built by the French car company Citroen in the 1920s.

Cast iron model cars became popular before World War I, but gave way to pressed steel models, popularized by the American company Buddy L Toys. These cars consisted of separate pieces fastened together, as die-casting had not yet been perfected (early 1900s die-cast attempts tended to crumble).

After World War II, die-cast companies like Matchbox (originally Matchbox Lesney) made a fortune with their smaller, more-affordable models. In the 1960s, Hot Wheels greatly expanded the collectible model cars market by producing different models every year and special limited-edition runs. Diecast model cars are still hugely popular today, for example NASCAR limited editions. Most diecast model cars are 1/43 scale, although they can be found in both larger and smaller sizes.

The major difference between model cars and toy cars is that model cars are scaled and detailed meticulously, whereas pure toy cars tend to be improperly proportioned and lack attention to detail. Highly detailed models have been made for almost every type of vehicle, including buses, tractors, and trucks.

In the late 1950s and '60s, plastic models called promotionals were produced, representing cars by General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and American Motors. Promotionals were given away with the purchase of a car at a dealership or could be bought individually. Every year of Ford and Chevy was made, and new plastic models were produced as new features were added to the real cars.

Another collectible model car genre is the pedal car, essentially pedal-driven cars large enough for a child to ride in. These were produced in the 1890s but saw a surge in popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. They're still produced today in shapes ranging from classic cars to airplanes.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

DFW Elite Toy Museum

DFW Elite Toy Museum

Ron Sturgeon's excellent gallery of fancy model cars and other vehicles. Nice high resolution shots with classy mus… [read review or visit site]

Race Car Toys And Automobilia

Race Car Toys And Automobilia

Paul Chenard's impressive collection of vintage model race cars (mostly European) including Hotwheels, Dinky, Match… [read review or visit site]

The Show Room

The Show Room

This gallery at Dave's Show Rod Rally features model show rods from 1960 to 2001. Favorites include the 1958 Thunde… [read review or visit site]

VW Toys and Models

VW Toys and Models

A comprehensive site completely dedicated to miniature Volkswagen vehicles. Browse hundreds of toys by country, man… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Hot Wheels Redline Olds 442 Metalic Blue 1969/1970 Sealed In Package W/ ButtonAntique Vintage 1920s Pressed Steel Buddy L Hydraulic Aerial Ladder Fire Truck Rare Tonka Toys 1958 Holsum Bread Metro Van Tough Version! 100% Original Truck~rare~1958 Tonka Toys White Tfd Tanker Truck~rare~In Near Mint Condition Hot Wheels Redline 1967 Custom Camaro- UsaVintage 1950s Smith Miller Mic Of California 24 Hours Service Wrecker Tow Truck1958 Tonka Red Gasoline Truck No. 33 In Original Box Pressed Steel Gas Early Buddy L Volkswagen Ski Lodge Bus 60's Nice - V Rare - 100% OriginalVintage 1960 Red Tonka Tanker Fuel Truck - 28" Long - RareTonka Hi-way Pickup W/compressor TrailerSmith Miller Mack International Paper Co. Semi Truck & Trailer Original Rare1963 Tonka Toys Ramp Hoist Truck Red Vintage Pressed Steel Truck Corgi Juniors Crime Busters Gift Set Batmobile Batboat +3 Sealed 1966Antique Buddy L Toy Ice TruckHot Wheels Redline Collection Some Enamels Some Pink Awesome Vintage Lot $250.00Tonka TruckHotwheels Redlines Red Olds 442Antique Steelcraft Mack Jr Pressed Steel City Ice CoVintage Wyandotte Toy Car Pressed Steel All Metal Prod. CoVintage 1971 " Cox " .049 Gas Powered " Eliminator 2 " Dragster. Tether Car.Vintage Red Line Hot Wheels Lot Mustang Cuda Python Catalog Buttons Cougar Buddy L Burdette-murray CoVintage C.1931 Coca Cola Metalcraft Metal Toy Truck W/soda Pop Bottles SignUnfinised Project Custom Model Toys Doepke D-6 Caterpillar BulldozerEarly Tonka Toys Ford Pick-up Truck V Rare Color 60's Nice 100% OriginalHot Wheels Redline Custom Mustang In Original Unopened Blister Pack Cheetah CardBuddy L Dump TruckAntique 1920's Buddy L Pressed Steel Steam Shovel Old Edwardian Construction ToyRedline Lot Of 11 Cars Camaro, Cougar, ChargerCorgi Gift Set Three Rocket Firing Batmobile And Batboat Mint 1973 Mettoy1960 Pressed Steel Tonka Toys Blue Flatbed Power Boom Loader Pickup Truck RareVintage Ertl Truck Line Utility Service Truck Circa 1960s4 Rare Vintage Mattel Hot Wheels Rrrumblers Skeleton Bone Shaker Group Lot1930's Buddy L Shell Oil Tanker Truck All OriginalSmith & Miller Bekins Moving TruckKingsbury Original Roadster With HeadlightsRedline Hot Wheels 1971 Olds 442 Magenta All Original N/m Hot Wheels Redline Beach Bomb 1969 Olive, Very NiceHot Wheel Emerald Green 1970 Olds 442 Tonka Logging Trucks And Parts1930's Metalcraft Goodrich Silvertown Wrecker Tow Truck. All Original! Art DecoAntique Buddy L Hydraulic Dump Truck Pressed Steel Model 201-a Working1971 Hot Wheels Redline Heavyweights Racer Rig - White Enamel Up BlisterpackHotwheels Redlines Anti Freeze Custom CamaroLg A.c. Williams Cast Iron 2 Man Race Car Toy Early Indy Racer Late 1920s71 Car Lot Vintage Hot Wheels Matchbox 29 Redlines My Own From When I Was A Kid!Early Tonka Jeep Jeepster Convertible No.2245 V Rare 60's Dead Mint Original BoxKeystone Moving Van1920's Dayton Son-ny Toy U.s.a. 1120 Steel Truck W/cannonVintage Early Lesney Matchbox Dealer Round Rotating 80 Car 55 Cent Store DisplayTonka 1960 Power Boom1963 Tonka Ramp Hoist Truck1920s Dayton Clark Or Shieble Hill Climber Delivery Truck Friction Auto TruckOld Vintage Very Rare Condition 1968 Hot Wheels Redline Green Custom Cougar 62051950s Structo Garbage Truck "good One" No Reserve"Marx Big Bruiser Tow Truck With Original Box And More!Tonka Desalle - G. Fox & Co. Box Van TruckHotwheels Redlines Blue Custom CamaroModel Toys Doepke Private Label Heiliner Scraper Truck V Rare Mint 100% OriginalVintage 1970 Hot Wheels Redline Spoilers Aqua Tnt Bird Moc Bp Blister