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    

M2 Chase 1970 Dodge Challenger Ground Pounders Limited Release 4Bauer 1:12 1937 Bugatti 57sc Atalante, Black/yellow Damaged Box Hot Wheels 55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser 2017 Hot Wheels Nationals *presale*Tonka Rare Drop Back Multi Boat Trailer-single Axle Boat Trailer-blue-original1/24 Franklin Mint Richard Petty 200th Win 1984 Pontiac Grand Prix Dcp 1/64 Lefebvre Black Red Peterbilt Semi Truck Farm Toy2017 Hot Wheels 17th Nationals '55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser Presale Only 2800 PcsDcp 1/64 Custom Peterbilt 18-3616 Manatts / Iowa Speedway ~ R Mack Mixer ~ First Gear ~ Dated 1970 Hot Wheels Redline Classic Cord Toy Car Blue1974 Hot Wheels Redline Hong Kong Porsche Carrera "p-911" Herfy'sAntique English Minic Tin Car Sedan W Shell Oil Can.1/20 Reuhl Massey Harris Vintagetoy Tractor 3-bottom Plow2013 1/24 Rcca Elite Jeff Gordon #24 Imron Elite White GoldGerman Vertical Steam Engine W/ Burner And Cast Iron Base/ Falk, Bing, DollTekno Denmark No 361 Vintage 1930's Tinplate Searchlight Truck Very Rare Item VgAutographed Jeffrey Earnhardt 2016 Darlington Color Chrome PrototypeUltra Ultra Rare Gmp 1:18 1992 Mustang Gt Burgandy/silver 416 Of Only 1000!1/18 Autoart Nismo Skyline Gt-r R-tune R34 R-1 Red Bnr34 Nissan Gtr R Tune R1 Vintage Lot Of 10 Hot Wheels Cars & 1 Johnny Lightening Topper Car Late 60'sCode 3 CollectiblesVintage 1960s Tonka Allied Van Lines Tractor Trailer Semi Truck SteelBuddy L Hydraulic Mack Big Dump Truck Repaint Very Solid No Rust4 Vintage Tonka Toys Stake Bed Cattle Truck Stake Bed PanelsCode 3 Diamond Plate Fdny 1:32 Scale Seagrave Pumper E273 Mets - 12985Autographed Jeffrey Earnhardt 2016 Darlington PrototypeDale Earnhardt Sr. Action 1:24 Die Cast Bank Wheaties Autographed W/ Two Coas1/64 Dcp (die-cast Promotions) Publix Truck & TrailerJimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Platinum Elite #27 Of 36 Made 1/24 Scale Lionel RareMatchbox Superfast 28 Mack Dump Truck ** Rare Transitional** Great Blister PackDcp 1/64 Burgandy White Tri-axle Kenworth Semi Truck Farm ToyHot Wheels Redline Indy Eagle In Unopened, Unpunched Blister From 1969 H.kDinky Toys Gb Austin Mini Rac Patrol Van Ref 273 Original Nmb Very Rare!Aviation Archive 1:72 Diecast #us33308 B-17g Flying Fortress (missin Top Turret)21st Century Toys 1 32 Lot. Panzer 38t. Jagdpanzer Tank Destroyer, Stuka Db2000 Hot Wheels 100% 917 Porsche Limited Edition New In Case BoxDalia Tekno (spain) Mg 1100 Ref 832 Original Nm Ultra Rare!Vintage Tonka Hydraulic Dump Truck1st Gear 1960 Mack B-61 Tractor Trailer "stockyards Trucking " Lcs-139Vintage Toy Steam Engine Mamod Mfg Made In England Metal & Brass ConstructionAntique Toy Car-minicFranklin Mint 1979 Plymouth Hemicuda Limited Edition2 - Vintage Hot Wheels Redline." 1969 Sugar Caddy & 1970 The Hood " ShippTexaco Pipeline 1960 Mack Model B-61 Tractor W/ Lowboy Load First Gear TruckOliver 2050 MfdA.c. Gleaner Model "g" CombineCode 3 Fdny Valiant Service Mack Cf Aerialscope Ladder #33Dinky 101 Thunderbird 2 & 4 & Box - Superb!Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle's, Car, 2 Figures, Extra's Vintage 1970's1:18 Bmw M 535i 1986 Grey Metallic Norev Model Car Diecast Limited EditionDiecast&toyvehicles Farm VeVintage Marx Wagon Train Blue WagonAntique German Lehmann Tin Litho Wind Up Ito Terra Car #679 GoodColumbo Code 3 New Grey Wrecked Peugeot 403 Peter Falk With Code 3 Display Box 1968 Hot Wheels Redline - Custom Firebird - Green - With Door LinesVintage Boxed Tootsietoy Airplane United Mainliner 1938 Super Nice ConditionSteam Toy - Gear Driven Punch Press, Very NiceVintage 1930's Or 1940's Truck No Marking May Be Buddy L Ladder Truck 1935???Acme 1970 Pontiac Gto Judge Burgundy Diecast Model Car 1:18 A1801203 Brand New!Highway/61 Dcp 1:18 Scale 1968 Dodge Dart Gts 383 Green/white+black Rare!