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]

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]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Hot Wheels Revvers Chopcycles Truckin' TrikeHot Wheels Redline Olds 442 Apple Green / Emerald Green All Original Very Clean!Louvered Window Custom Mustang Very Rare Excellent Con. 1967 Hot Wheels RedlineAntique Carette Clockwork Limousine German Tin Toy Car-circa 1910-partsNmib Masudaya Fire Patrol Motorcycle - Rarest Of The Series - Worldwide ShippingMatchbox Lesney Rw Vintage 1960's Mg-1 Bp Service Station Garage BoxedMatchbox Lesney Rw Vintage 1960's G-6 Commercial Truck Gift Set - BoxedCorgi Gift Set 38; Monte Carlo Rally Toy Cars; Mini Cooper, Rover 2000 & Citroen1:18 Cmc 1935 Bugatti Type 35 Blue Discontinued M063V-rare Minichamps Marlbor0 Ferrari F310-2 M.schumacher Belgian Gp 1996 1/181:18 Exoto 1975 Ferrari 312t2 World Champion F1 Niki Lauda 97050Vintage Smith Miller Large Scale Diecast Mack Truck For Repair Parts Restoration1953 Pontiac Sedan 14” Japanese Tin Car W/driver By Ichiko NrVintage Marx Tin Litho Windup Motorcycle Policeman Works Well Nice ConditionHot Wheels Redline Copper Boss Hoss Mustang Blister Pack CardedPagani Zonda R Carbon Fibre 1/18 Scale By Autoart #78261 Very RareVintage Tru Scale Toys International Metal Truck A Solid Utility/mechanics Truck28" Pressed Steel Buddy L Sit 'n Ride Tow TruckHot Wheels Redline Olds 442 Magenta1:12 Gmp 1963 Shelby Cobra 289 Sebring Gurney Hill Limited 350 Pc. 12026111970 Hot Wheels Redline Green Porsche 917 *unopened And Unpunched*1958 Buick Century 2-door 14 1/2” Japanese Tin Car By Atc Nr Big 13" Welby Pre War Japan Wind-up 3-wheel Motorcycle By CkRedline Hotwheels Blue Amx2 BpGmp 1970 Plymouth Gtx Le # 1803119 Sand Pebble Beige 1:18 Scale No Box Jm 62fHot Wheels * Rlc * Series 11 * '66 Super Nova * Vhtf * Awesome *Two Vintage Wyandotte Sedans 6 Inch - Pressed SteelVintage Lesney Matchbox Superfast Boxed Ford Mustang Piston Popper Rolamatics1960s Tonka Metal #b-225 Fire Department Rescue Squad Truck Ambulance1954 Chevrolet Belair 11” Japanese Tin Car By Linemar NrErtl 1:18 Diecast The Fast And The Furious 1969 Yenko Camaro - Mib RareVintage Wyandotte Large Roadster Sedan And TrailerDanbury Mint Die-cast 1:24 Scale 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline Aerosedan Ln/boxNice Tippco T-586 Us Zone Windup Motorcycle - Worldwide ShippingVintage Tin Friction 1958 - 59 Edsel Toy Car 1/24 ScaleCmc Ferrari 1961 Diecast Shark Mouth Germany Scale 1:18Vintage Buddy L Colt Bronco Desert Rats Army Jeep Toy Truck NibBing Ford-t 1920's "very Rare" In Blue!, Wind-up, Tin All Original, No Reserve!Rare 1930s Marx Pressed Steel Toy Coupe...electric Motor Driven!!M2 Machines Auto Mods Series 4 1969 Chevy Camaro Ss/rs 396 Super Chase RawTrue Scale Old John Deere Tractor And Pull Combine Set (original ) 1940's / 1950's Marx Hi- Way Express Cross Country Service TruckDinky 935 Leyland Octopus Flat Truck With Chains Boxed Atlas Editions3 Vintage 1960's Die Cast Tractors Incl Oliver 1800+ 2 John Deere & Corn PickerSmith-miller M.i.c Mack Cab L.a.f.d. Aerial Ladder Fire Truck 50s Super Rare Mib2 Allis Chalmers 7040's 1/16 Marron Belly Tractor's Autoart 1/18 Pagani Zonda R White Italian Stripes Mega Rare! Empire Turbine Steam Engine B-35Vintage Lincoln Toys Canada Coca Cola Truck With BoxesDanbury Mint 1947 1:24 Scale Die Cast Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon Ln/boxVintage Aurora Ho Slot Car Lot ThunderjetsVintage Stuart 10h Steam Engine Casting Kit (1959) With Valve Kit AccessoryVintage 1957 Tonka Stepside Pickup Truck1958 Mercury Montclair 2-door Hardtop Japanese Tin Car By Yonezawa NrTonka Toy Truck Gasoline Truck 1957Vintage Smith Miller Pacific Intermountain Express Toy Truck 26" Long Rg3Vintage 1967 Hot Wheels Redline Custom Volkswagen Red Usa Base% 1950's American Flyer Train Illuminated Set W/ Engine Rocket 474 In Boxes A6Nice Boxed Marx Motorcycle Delivery 1930's - Worldwide ShippingVintage 1970 - Mattel - Hot Wheels - 21 Redlines Lot