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    

Hot Wheels Super Charger Sprint Set Custom Camaro Mustang+60s Red Line Car Lot Antique Marke Lehmann Tin Plate Lithograph Also Wind-up Automobile Car Toy NrVintage 60's Dinky 782 Shell Petrol Pump Station Set Gorgeous Mint/boxed1956 Tonka No.880-6 Pickup Truck W/box ~all Original & Beutiful Condition~Antique Buddy L Passenger Bus, Large Pressed Steel Toy, Original Paint. Noresrv1957 Tonka State Hi Way Dept Steam Shovel & Lowboy Truck Hood Scoop Great OrigGroup Lot 32 Vintage Matchbox Lesney Toy Car Boxes Empty 1950s 1960s MokoAntique 1920's Buddy L Catapult Monocoupe Airplane & Hanger Tin-metalTonka Toys 1957 "big Mike" 10 Wheel Dump Truck With PlowTonka Ramp Hoist No. 640 Mint With Original Box. Unplayed Original Truck.Vintage Tonka Toy No. 18 Wrecker Tow Truck Ex+++ W/ Nice BoxVintage Diecast Pressed Steel Doepke Caterpillar Tractor Dozer Truck Cat Toy OldVintage Husky #1202 Batmobile - Made In Great Britain - Mip Moc - 1960sBuddy L Large International Dump Truck Ride On 1934Redline Paddy Wagon Hot Wheels Rare! Black Canadian Blisterpack No Reserve Vintage Large Pressed Steel 1920's Toy Dump Truck Keystone Packard Sturditoy Very Rare 1937 Steelcraft Junior Streamliner Pedal Car1969 Hot Wheels "olds 442" Lime Green Free ShippingVintage 1956 Tonka Toy No.575-6 Logger Log Tractor Trailer Truck Ex++ W/ BoxVintage 1955 Tonka Toys 0875-5 Builders Supply Fleet Lumber & Stake Bed Truck 1920's Kelmet Dump TruckFranklin Mint Discontinued 1911 Mercedes Skiff W Labourdette Coach Work Car 1:24Vintage Buddy L Ford Station Wagon With Tee Pee Camper W Original Boat & TrailerLtd Toy Stamp & Red Line Barracuda Aqua Us W White Int With Cheetah Card Schieble Roadster 16" Large Antique Pressed Steel Toy Car 1928 Custom Cougar In Broken Redline Blister Pack Orange 1958-59 Tonka White Stock Farm Stake Truck Mound, Minn Tonka Toys DecalLot Of 24 Vintage 1960's Lesney Matchbox Cars W Carrying CaseHot Wheels Redline Custom Mustang 1968 Htf Aqua Hk, NiceKelmet Pressed Steel Toy TruckHot Wheels Red Line Era, France, Gloss Red Vega Bomb, Very Rare, Near Mint !!!.Vintage Smith Miller Pressed Steel Mack Us Army Troop Carrier Truck 19 Inch NiceVintage Doepke Model Toy Jaguar Convertible Car Diecast Pressed Steel Coupe Toys60s Lesney Matchbox Huge Lot 36 Mib + 100 Total Very RareHot Wheels Red Line, Rl, Hk, Gloss Olive King Kuda, Black Roof, Near Mint !!!.Hot Wheels Redline Custom Volkswagen 1968 Vhtf Creamy Pink Us, Very NiceRare Vintage Large Marx Lumar Contractors Flatbed Truck & Shovel Buddy L StructoVintage 1930's Marx Dairy Tanker Truck WyandotteVintage Husky #1204 Monkeemobile - Great Britain - Mip Moc - 1960sLot Of 5 Vintage Mattel 1968 And 1969 Hot Wheels Red Line Series Cars - Mattel Mattel Hot Wheels 1967 Redline Metallic Purple Custom MustangHot Wheels Redline Snake Yellow BpTonka 1960 Power Boom TruckMatchbox Vintage Regular Wheel Vr75 Plastic Revolving Dealer Display - 1968Vintage Mattel Hot Wheels Redline Custom Cougar Green On Card 1967Vintage Buddy L Texaco Gas & Oil Pressed Steel Tanker Truck CleanStructo Vintage Wind-up Roadster1950s Lumar Marx Pressed Steel 17” Coca-cola Delivery Truck W 18 Cases Of CokeLtd Toy Stamp & 1950s Smith Miller Unusual Early Issue Yellow Semi TruckBuddy-l International Custom Tow TruckAntique 1930's Hubley Cast Iron Woody Station Wagon Toy Yellow & Blue Orig PaintBuddy L Four Stall Roundhouse For The Outdoor Railroad W/train - Very NiceKelmet Pressed Steel Toy TruckAntique 1927 Keystone Water Tower Fire Truck - Steel Toy Great ConditionHot Wheels Toy Redline Cars Lot Of 24 Cars All For One Money Group Usa MadeStructo International Flatbed Tt Truck W/steam Shovel V Rare Nice 100% OriginalModel Toys Doepke Rossmoyne American Lafrance Fire Pumper Truck V Rare Nmint WowRedline Hot Wheels 1971 Double Header No. 5880 Blue Mint In Original Packaging ~*~estate Find~*~ Antique Pressed Steel Truck Tractor StructoCorgi Whizzwheels No. 391 James Bond 007 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Nm To Mint In Box