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    

Hot Wheels Redline Hk Rare Uk Only Gloss Pink Rolls Royce Blister Bp Scarce NmAntique Vintage Pressed Steel Kelmet Big Boy White Gmc Dump Truck 26" Toy2x Hot Wheels Gas Monkey Garage 68corvette Antique 1930s Schuco Studio 1050 Mercedes Tin Wind-up Toy Race Car, Nr1940s Buick Large Heavy Childrens Pedal Car All Original ConditionEstate Found Large Vintage Collection Lot Hot Wheels Redline Redlines Cars Car Vintage 1958 Edsel Tin Litho Friction 11" Tin Toy Car Haji Mansei Japan Tin ToyBuddy L Ford Paragon Oil Tractor Trailer--mint In Original Box--Hot Wheels Redlines Purple Custom Corvette Blister PackHot Wheels Custom Gas Monkey Garage Gold Corvette Custom Card & Real Riders 56 Vintage Rare & Htf Redline Hot Wheels. Camaro Mustang Chargers Porsche 9171930s-40s Structo Antique Truck Vintage Pressed Steel Nylint International Ford?Custom 1957 Tonka Tandem Axle Hydraulic Dump Truck.Antique Carette Limousine Toy Car, Germany, C 1910, DocumentationTonka Ford Rescue Truck ----1961----new Old Stock In Box-- Mint Original--1958 Tonka B-205 Farm Set Stake Trucks With Corral In Original Box Unused?2017 Hot Wheels '68 Corvette Gas Monkey Garage * Short Card * Rare Htf1958 Buick Century 2-door 14 1/2” Japanese Tin Car By Atc Nr 1920s Buddy L Giant Pressed Steel Dump Truck Chain & Crank Dump Truck 1950s Buddy L Firestone Wrecker Tow Truck Vintage Antique Very Nice!!Tonka Farms Stake Truck ---mint Original In Box---mint Original--1957 Tonka Fire Department Truck Set No.900-6 With Box1957 Tonka State Hi-way Dept. Hydraulicdump Truck With V Plow (original Truck)Vintage Nylint Toy Street Sprinkler Pressed Steel Truck ExJohn Deere Farm Toy Vehicle 430 1958 3 Pt Hitch Used Parts Custom Extremely RareTonka 1954 Steel Carrier Semi Truck & Trailer Mound Metalcraft Pressed Steel ToyEarly Tonka Toys Ford Cab Stake Rack Pick-up Truck 60's V Rare Mint OriginalHot Wheels Speed Machines Lamborghini Gallardo/nissan Gt-r Specv/saleens7/+6moreVintage Orange Tonka Toy Dump Truck Big Mike Dual Hydraulic State Hi-way DeptVintage John Deere Pedal Tractor Dgt 70 Ertl 531-7001 UsaXrare 1/24 Richard Petty #43 Stp '75 Winston Cup Champion Vintage Diecast NascarErtl White Coe Forward-tilt Cab Box Truck Super Rare 60's Mint Original CabUnusual Vintage John Deere Model A Toy Tractor With BoxRare Original Paint Eska John Deere 130 Pedal Tractor ErtlDanbury Mint Limited Edition 1956 Ford Fairlane Victoria 1:24 Scale Die Cast Car Vintage Tin Pontiac Toy By Asahitoy Japan Original Attic Fresh In The Box L@@kVintage Tonka Toy Gasoline Tanker Truck Ex+Early Tonka Toys Ford Cab Lowboy Tt Truck & Steam Shovel Set 50's V Rare NiceVintage Smith Miller Custom Mack Truck L@@kRare Minichamps Mclaren Honda Mp4-30 J.button Usa Gp 2015 1/18 ScaleCorgi Gift Set 41 Transporter Set With 6 Cars - Excellent Example.displays Well!Hot Wheels Redline Mustang Boss Hoss Pink /rose Vintage Rare1968 Hot Wheels Redline Hk Custom Camaro - Aqua W/white Interior Blisterpack BpClassic Ship Collection “queen Mary 2” Qm2 Cunard Cruise Liner Model 1/1250 CscVintage Tonka State Hi-way Dept Big Mike Dual Hydraulic Dump TruckAllis Chalmers 190 Bar Grill Pedal Tractor Ertl 1/18 Cmc Ferrari 250 Gt Berlinetta Passo Corto Swb Competizione Red 1961 M-046Tonka 1957 Hi-way Pickup Truck - Near MintVintage Collection Of 24 Mattel Hot Wheels Redline Cars W/ Collectors Case 1960sHot Wheels Redline Custom Barracuda Unpunched Bp 1968 Purple1940's - 1950's Buddy-l International Tanker TruckAntique Buddy-l Pressed Steel Tank Line Tanker TruckFire Chief Tin Battery Operated Car Original Box NomuraVintage 1957 Ford Fairlane Ranchero Tin Friction Wks Bandai Japan / Original BoxHot Wheels Redline Custom Mustang Creamy Pink Extremely NiceVintage Deluxe Reading Topper Playmobile Dashboard Toy Car Driving SimulaterMinichamps Bmw M1 Procar #28 Clay Regazzoni - Shell - Marlboro 1:18 ScaleSmith Miller B Model Mack Blue Diamond Tandem Dump Truck-no Reserve AuctionExoto Chaparral 2e With Rolling Chassis - Phil Hill Winner Monterey Race - 1:18Vintage 1930's Metalcraft Heinz 57 Ketchup Pickles Pressed Steel Toy Truck Sign