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    

Original 1968 First 16 Hotwheels Redline Display W/painted Motor Camaro~~look~~Antique Vintage 1932 Keystone Pressed Steel Coast To Coast Toy Ride On BusAntique Marke Lehmann Tin Plate Lithograph Also Wind-up Automobile Car Toy NrVintage 1930’s Kingsbury Pressed Steel Windup 4 Door Sedan Toy CarHot Wheels Super Charger Sprint Set Custom Camaro Mustang+60s Red Line Car Lot Antique Buddy L Passenger Bus, Large Pressed Steel Toy, Original Paint. NoresrvHot Wheels Redline 1974 Heavy Chevy Camaro Alternate Color Light Green - NmRare Hot Wheels Army Staff Car Olds 442 Redline Orig. Excellent Condition 19761956 Tonka No.880-6 Pickup Truck W/box ~all Original & Beutiful Condition~1957 Tonka State Hi Way Dept Steam Shovel & Lowboy Truck Hood Scoop Great OrigAntique Smith Miller Materials Mack Pressed Steel Toy Dump Log Truck Buddy L VtgVintage 60's, 70's Redline Hot Wheels Lot ~ 47 Cars One Bid Most Excellent C8-c9Group Lot 32 Vintage Matchbox Lesney Toy Car Boxes Empty 1950s 1960s MokoTonka Toys 1957 "big Mike" 10 Wheel Dump Truck With PlowAntique 1920's Buddy L Catapult Monocoupe Airplane & Hanger Tin-metal1957 Tonka Toys Blue Pickup Truck - All OriginalHot Wheels Redlines Flying Colors Letter Getter 1977 Excellent Condition!! Rare!Tonka Semi "7 Up" Tractor TrailerRare Antique Steelcraft Keystone Green Train Car Oil Tanker Chesapeake & Ohio1920s Dayton/schieble/turner Car & Truck & Garage Pressed Steel Hill ClimbersVintage Diecast Pressed Steel Doepke Caterpillar Tractor Dozer Truck Cat Toy OldVintage 1955 Tonka Toys 0875-5 Builders Supply Fleet Lumber & Stake Bed Truck 1956 Tonka Custom Ramp TruckFranklin Mint Discontinued 1911 Mercedes Skiff W Labourdette Coach Work Car 1:24Hot Wheels Redline Custom Mustang 1968 Blue Us W/badge, Extremely NiceVintage 1967 Mattel Hot Wheels Custom T Bird Metallic Lime Green Rare Toy CarDon Desalle 1990's Tonka Toys Collectors 1956 Red Pickup TruckTonka Ramp Hoist No. 640 Mint With Original Box. Unplayed Original Truck.1969 Hot Wheels "olds 442" Lime Green Free ShippingVintage 60's, 70's Redline Hot Wheels Lot ~ 12 Cars One Bid Most Excellent C8-c9 Custom Cougar In Broken Redline Blister Pack Orange Buddy L Large International Dump Truck Ride On 1934Vintage Tonka Toy No. 18 Wrecker Tow Truck Ex+++ W/ Nice BoxRedline Paddy Wagon Hot Wheels Rare! Black Canadian Blisterpack No Reserve Vintage Buddy L Ford Station Wagon With Tee Pee Camper W Original Boat & TrailerVintage 60's Rare Dinky Nicky Bentley Coupe Gorgeous NmibVintage Large Pressed Steel 1920's Toy Dump Truck Keystone Packard Sturditoy 1920's Buddy L Model T Flivver Toy Truck Estate Buy No ReserveVery Rare 1937 Steelcraft Junior Streamliner Pedal CarVintage 1956 Tonka Toy No.575-6 Logger Log Tractor Trailer Truck Ex++ W/ Box1950's Tonka Suburban Pumper White Fire Truck With Hydrant And WrenchVintage Husky #1202 Batmobile - Made In Great Britain - Mip Moc - 1960sDoepke Metal 1953 Mg Td Beautiful Restoration 15.5" Excellent ConditionRare Antique Champion Cast Iron Panel Delivery Toy Truck Van Original Red Paint Hot Wheels Red Line Era, France, Gloss Red Vega Bomb, Very Rare, Near Mint !!!.60s Lesney Matchbox Huge Lot 36 Mib + 100 Total Very RareVintage Buddy L Hydraulic Dump Truck 1920's(?) 24"; WorksVintage Smith Miller Pressed Steel Mack Us Army Troop Carrier Truck 19 Inch Nice1958-59 Tonka White Stock Farm Stake Truck Mound, Minn Tonka Toys Decal Schieble Roadster 16" Large Antique Pressed Steel Toy Car 1928Hot Wheels Redline Rrrumblers Bone ShakerVintage Early 1900’s Kenton 8” Cast Iron Toy Crank Dump TruckVintage Doepke Model Toy Jaguar Convertible Car Diecast Pressed Steel Coupe ToysHot Wheels Red Line, Rl, Hk, Gloss Olive King Kuda, Black Roof, Near Mint !!!.Rare Vintage Large Marx Lumar Contractors Flatbed Truck & Shovel Buddy L StructoVintage Super Van Redline 1976 Super Chromes 9205 1:64 Hot Wheels Redlines Mattel Hot Wheels 1967 Redline Metallic Purple Custom MustangHot Wheels Redline Custom Volkswagen 1968 Vhtf Creamy Pink Us, Very NiceVintage Distler Electromatic 7500 Porsche Toy CarAntique 1930's Hubley Cast Iron Woody Station Wagon Toy Yellow & Blue Orig Paint