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]

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    

Ltd Toy Stamp & Red Line 1975 Toy Fair Rare Super Van Flying Colors Near MintVery Rare-1927 Buddy L Pressed Steel Lumber Truck-ex & Complete--nr-wow Antique Smith Miller Doepke Crane Mack Pressed Steel Toy Truck Buddy L Vtg TonkaLtd Toy Stamp & Red Line 1973 Mattel Salesmans Display CaseUntouched Ultra Rare C.1926 Gendron Sampson Pressed Steel Toy Truck Toledo Usa 1930 Buddy L Jr.delivery Truck Pressed SteelSmith Miller Lucy Trailer And Lincoln CarLtd Toy Stamp & Red Line Toy Fair Rare Gold Porsche P-911 Mint ConditionLtd Toy Stamp & Red Line 1973 Enamel Light Green Superfine Turbine Mint UnusedHot Wheels Red Line, Rl, Us, Blue Custom Camaro, Black Roof, White Int Near MintRailway Express Agency Buddy L 1930's Truck Wrigley's Spearmint Gum Advertising1920's Vintage Buddy L Pressed Steel Toy Aerial Ladder Fire Truck1955 Tonka Gambles Pickup Truck - All OriginalVtg Tonka Fisherman Pressed Steel Toy Pickup Truck Boat Trailer Motor Buddy LVintage Antique Keystone Packard Water Tower Toy Fire Truck Pumper Nice OriginalLtd Toy Stamp & Red Line 1973 Enamel Pink Street Snorter Near Mint Condition1969 Mattel Redline Hot Wheel "custom Mustang" Ice Blue Excellent Cond.Rare 1924 Buddy L International Harvester "red Baby" Express Truck 100% OriginalVintage Tonka Truck Old Red 1958 Steel Flatbed Metal Semi Cab ToyEstate Find Lqqk Buddy-l Service Truck With Ladder & Opening Tool Boxes & ToolsAntique/vintage Buddy L Metal Ice Delivery Truck 1920's Original Look!!!Turner Lincoln Sedan, 1920's Pressed Steel, Barn Find OriginalAntique Smith Miller Bekins Mack Pressed Steel Toy Semi Moving Truck Buddy L VtgAntique Dayton Pressed Steel Coupe Roadster Toy Friction Car Truck Buddy L VtgLtd Toy Stamp & Red Line 1973 Enamel Blue Mongoose 6969 Chassis C9 Dealer SampleLtd Toy Stamp & Red Line 1973 Enamel Pink Ferrari 312p C9 ConditionLtd Toy Stamp & Red Line Mongoose & Snake Wild Wheelie Set In Box W InsertsBuddy L Firestone Service TruckBuddy "l" Trencher Toy Original ConditionVintage 1966 Husky Extra #1201 James Bond 007 Aston Martin €Turner Packard Pressed Steel Early 20's 30's Made In UsaSmith Miller P.i.e. Express Truck And TrailerVintage Tonka Cattle Stake Truck 1958 Metal ToyVintage Tonka Truck Old Yellow 1958 Steel Flatbed Metal Semi Cab Trailer ToyAntique 1933-34 'a' Series Buddy L #12 Pressed Steel Pure Ice Truck 26" RestoredVintage 1920' Pressed Steel Keystone Sprinkler Tanker TruckLtd Toy Stamp & Red Line 1973 Enamel Porsche 917 Light Green Near Mint ConditionOriginal Buddy L Express Line Toy Truck Moline Pressed Steel 204 Moving Van1920's Vintage Buddy L Pressed Steel Toy Aerial Ladder Fire TruckVtg Johnny Lightning Cadillac Eldorado Jl Topper Redline Sealed Door Holy GrailTonka Ford Sportsman Pick-up Truck W/ Cap & Boat V Rare 50's Nmint Original BoxRare 1928 Buddy L Wrecker- Huge 28" LongNice Vintage Corgi Toys Gift Set No. 23 Chipperfields Circus Models - 1 MissingAntique Buddy L Pressed Steel Flivver Model T Roadster Car Toy Ford Truck VtgAntique Dayton Son-ny Moving Van Pressed Steel Toy Truck Sonny Buddy L Dump VtgVintage 50s Buddy L Toy Ford Hydraulic Dump Truck & Trailer Pressed Steel TonkaLtd Toy Stamp & Red Line 1973 Enamel Pink Dune Daddy Near Mint ConditionEstate Find Lqqk Buddy-l Milk Truck With All 14 Undamaged Milk Bottles Awesome !Ltd Toy Stamp & Red Line 1973 Enamel Light Blue Show Off Dealer Sample MintAntique 1927 Keystone Water Tower Fire Truck - Steel Toy Great ConditionMib Early 1950s Tootsietoy Diecast Pan Am Airport Toy Set W 12pcs-airplanes +Antique/vintage Buddy L Metal Tankline Truck 1920's Original Look!!!Ltd Toy Stamp & Rrumblers Bold Eagle Rare Blue Mint Salesman SampleRedline Hotwheels MustangHot Wheels Red Line, Rl, Hk, Shiny Aqua Bye Focal, Very Rare, Near Mint !!!.Antique Tonka Marshall Field Co Pressed Steel Toy Semi Trailer Truck Buddy L VtgBuddy "l" Aerial Ladder Truck, No.:27, Cfd: Chicago Fire DepartmentVintage 60s Lesney Matchbox Case W 65 Vehicles Die Cast Cars Trucks Farm Bus Nr1930's / 40's Wyandotte Sedan 9" - Beautiful 100% Original No Reserve!Smith Miller All Original Coke Truck And Box