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    

Rare Kenton 10" Double Decker City Bus +4 Passengers Original Cast-iron ArcadeHot Wheels Redline Custom Barracuda GoldLarge Jensen Steam Engine Set Up, No. 50, CompleteAutoart Pagani Zonda R Evo Carbon Fiber / White 1:18**new**last One!Vintage Arcade International Farmall A Cultivision Cast Iron Tractor With DriverOriginal Vintage 1972 Hot Wheels Rear Engine Snake #5856 Mint In Packet RedlinesHot Wheels Redline Beach Bomb Brown With Original Surf Boards1960's 1/16 International Loader For 806 1206 560 Toy Tractor Ertl Ih FarmallVintage Die Cast Novoexport Lada 2102 1/43 Scale Made Ussr BoxedVintage Evinrude "starflite" Miniature Outboard Boat Motor In Box Runs NiceRedline Stellar Yellow/gold Open Fire Bp 1972 72 Hot Wheels Unpunched Flat Card++++ Hot Wheels Mattel Redline Centurion Rrrumblers Rumblers ++++X5 Space Patrol 8” Motorcycle With Rider Japan NrYcc Grohmann Liebherr Ltm1800 1:50 Scale Model Crane Very Rare Only 180 MadeVintage Die Cast Novoexport Car 412 1/43 Scale Made Ussr BoxedFranklin Mint Easy Rider Chopper Motorcycle Bike 1:10 In BoxVintage Die Cast Novoexport Moskvich 426 1/43 Scale Made Ussr 1977 BoxedAll American Smith Miller Custom Lowbow Kw Hot Wheels 1/64 Flying Colors Redline "chief's Special" Blister #7665 From 1975 Highway 61/dcp 1:18 Scale Diecast Metal Black 1969 Baldwin Motion Camaro BlemVintage 1968 Hot Wheels Redline Custom Cougar BlueDanbury Mint 1958 Chrysler New Yorker Convertible Garnet Maroon 1:241976 Ideal Evel Knievel Die Cast Miniatures Gift Set Rare!!!1956 K & O Mercury Mark 55 Thunderbolt Outboard Toy Boat Motor Nice Tether RacerNew Minichamps Chandon Mclaren Mp4/31 J.button Austrian Gp 2016 1/43 Marx Vintage G-man Pursuit Toy Car 1930's Wind UpHot Wheels Super Treasure Hunt / Reg. Enzo Ferrari Red Interior 2007 Factory SetRedline Clean Orange 36 Ford Coupe Rare White Interior Shiny Chrome Vintage 1952 Ford 2 Door Sedan Taxi Japanese Tin Car By Marusan Kosuge Nr1950's Tru Scale International Pick Up - Rare FindAntique Buddy L Arial Ladder Pressed Steel Fire Truck Original Ladder See PicsSolido Cabriolet Puegeot 403 In Very Good Original Conditon Box Gc 1/43 France Bbr 1/18 Ferrari 330 Tri Winner 24h Le Mans 1962 Limited 600 Pcs #bbrc1803Jeff Gordon #24 2012 Aarp Drive To End Hunger Pocono Raced Win Diecast 1 Of 504Early Tonka Dragline Blue Color RareHot Wheels Ferrari Racer Enzo Ferrari Gold Chrome 2007 Vhtf Rare New 1:64Vintage Dinky Diecast 1:43 - Robertson's Golden Shred Guy Truck Scarce Large Condor 1955 Tin Friction Motorcycle By I.y. Metal Toys Worldwide1/18 Highway 61 1969 Camaro Baldwin Motion Green And WhiteVintage 1960's Tonka Pressed Steel Pickup TruckVintage 1950s Marx Wind-up Driver Training Car With Box - No ReserveVintage Set Leslie Henry Wagon Train Toy Cap Gun Pistols & Tooled Leather BeltJoal Compact Construction Equipment Lot Of 10 Toys Die-cast Metal 1/50 Scale +Hobby Master Ha1304 1/72 A-10 Thunderbolt/warthog Usaf Hoosier Hogs Grissom Afb 1956 Tonka Sand Loader & Dump Truck Immaculate Original Set No Reserve Asam Smith Kenworth K100 Cab Over Tractor With Lowboy Heavy Haul 1/48 1/50 O CatCcm Classic Construction Rogers Tandem Axle Tag Trailer Brass Red 1/48 1/50 CatCorgi - 1/72 Diecast Corgi Pby Catalina No.210 Sqd. Coastal Command W/diorama1:18 Exoto 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona "championship Coupe"First Gear International Td-25 Crawler 1/25 Scale Tractor Mint In The BoxPre Production Ex - Employee Lesney Matchbox Moy Models Of Yesteryears RileyRare 1950s-60s Ertl Super Farm Set 5 Piece Tractor & Implement Set - Mint In ObSchuco 1965 Mercedes Benz O317 Renntransporter Porsche Motorsport 1:18 Le 500pcs1/50 Drake Heavy Haulage Trailer, Twh SwordTri-ang Spot-on No.208/a Road Under Construction Set. Matchbox Lesney Rare Bedford Car Transport Red Grey Bpw A-2-a5 Vnm & Crafted BoxOliver Tractor Impliment ToyHot Wheels #9032 Flying Colors Street Machines New Old Stock Set Of 6 1974Spot On 118 Bmw Isetta Bubble Car 1960 In Good Original Box With Leaflets VgcTru-scale International Harvester Cab Pick-up Truck 50's Super Rare Nice Orig.