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    

Keystone--packard--fire Truck--all Original With Hose& Ladders - No ReserveTonka Toys Terrific 1958 Number 33 Gasoline TruckTonka Toys 1956 0850-6 Lumber Truck Terrific Original Truck In The Box 1957 Tonka State Hi-way Dept Custom Tandem Axle Ramp Hoist Roll Back Truck-nr1960s Nylint Ford Truck+mobile Home Camper Pressed Steel No 6600 Aqua Blue 1950sVintage Metalcraft Art Deco New England Stores Food Market Toy Delivery TruckHot Wheels Red Line, Rl, Us, Light Blue Custom Corvette, White Int, Near Mint!. Rare 1921 Buddy L Express Truck W/ Cast Iron Spoke Wheels1929 Steelcraft Mack Dump Truck Pressed Steel Original Truck 24" 1920s Steelcraft Ac Mack Fire Truck Mint Original Pressed Steel Trucks1956 Tonka Toys Minute Maid Box Van Truck 100% Outstanding OriginalVintage 1928 Structo Pressed Steel Water Tanker Truck 19" Long No ReerveTonka Toys Terrific Original 1956 State Hi-way Dept Pickup 975 1967 Mattel Red Line Hot Wheels Mustang Car W/collector's Button ~ New 1960's Tonka #516 Jeep Runabout And Boat And Trailer ~ Mint In Box1956 Tonka Toys Semi Truck Indianapolis Kansas City Motor Express Old Custom1925 Kingsbury Passenger Bus Pressed Steel Toy W Working Wind-up Parts/repair NrEarly Buddy L Construction Co. Gmc 550 Cab Dump Truck 50's Nmint 100% OriginalFab 50's Vtg Tonka Toys State Hi-way Dept Semi Truck Lowboy Trailer & Bulldozer1961 Buddy L Texaco Gas Station Playset No 5301-w Box-1/24-gas & Oil Vintage Toy1959 Tonka Toys No. 18 100% Original Wrecker Truck Near Mint In The Box Vintage Tonka Pressed Steel State Hi-way Dept. Truck With Optional Plow Blade.Tonka Big Mike Dump Truck 19571950's Tonka Toys Metro Van Custom Painted For The 1982 Fat Albert's Toy ShowHot Wheels Redline Custom Camaro - Original Us Model 1968 ChevyRare Boxed Mighty Tonka Construction Set No. 4006 Dump Loadmaster Helmet LoaderSteelcraft? Turner? Truck Crane Steam Shovel 1920's? Antique Vintage Look WowVintage 1950's Smith Miller Socony Mobil Gas Tank Truck-mobiloil/mobilgas Tanker1967 Mattel Red Line Hot Wheels Red Mustang Car W/collector's Button ~ New Smith Miller B Mack P I E Tractor Trailer--exc Original--no Reserve--Tonka Carnation Milk Metro Delivery Van 1955 Complete Original Vg/exHot Wheels Redline Lime Custom Amx Moc Shell Case FindDoepke Model Toys Aerial Ladder--excellent Original--box---look Book--no ReserveHot Wheels Redline Aqua Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Moc Shell Case Find No RsveKingsbury Style Crane Truck, Like KelmetHot Wheels Flying Colors Heavy Chevy1967 Mattel Red Line Hot Wheels Bluegreen Deora Car W/collector's Button ~ New Louis Marx & Co. G-man Persuit CarVintage Buddy L Riding Academy Horse Truck #5455 With Box & Horses 1964Dayton Toy And Specialty Co. Son-ny Railway Express Co Truck 1920'sVintage 60's, 70's Redline Hot Wheels Lot 22 Cars And Collector's Case 4976Rare! Mattel Redline Hot Wheels Noodlehead Canadian Blisterpack No Reserve Redline The Hood Hot Wheels Black Canadian Blisterpak RareVintage Pressed Steel Buddy-l Ride On Wrecker Tow Truck 1940's-50's All OriginalVintage Lot Of 61 Red Line 1968-1974 Mattel Hot Wheels And Collector's Race CaseSmith-miller Smitty Mobil Oil Mobilgas Mack Tanker Truck & Trailer - 1950sHot Wheels Redline Custom Cougar In Original Unopened Blister Pack. U.s. Bp. Vintage 1920s Buddy L Flivver Coupe Pressed Steel Original Paint AntiqueBuddy-l Gmc 550 Tractor W/mps Box Trailer Vintage Pressed Steel ToyHubley #2278 5 Inch Cast Iron Travel Trailer All Original Combine Shipping Antique Buddy L Cfd Aerial Ladder Fire Truck Best Original Unmolested ExampleDoepke Model Toys Caterpillar D-6 Bulldozer--exc Original--no Reserve--Buddy "l" Trencher Toy Original ConditionSmith Miller B Mack Hollywood Film Ad Searchlight Truck--orig Box--exc ConditionDoepke Model Toys American Lafrance Pumper--exc Condition--box--no Reserve--Mattel Vintage Hot Wheels Redline Blister Bp *custom Volkswagen Vw Bug *gold*Pre-war Wyandotte Airflow Sedan Car & Travel Trailer Green W/ Rubber Wheels1920 Pressed Steel Keystone Packard Coast To Coast BusVintage Buddy L Tank Line Truck Vintage Hot Wheels Redline Blister Bp *custom Volkswagen Beetle* Vw Bug* Blue!