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    

Full Case Of 6 X General Lee Diecast Metal 1:18 Scale Orange 1969 Dodge ChargersAuto World Dodge Charger 1969 General Lee Dukes Of Hazzard 1:18 High DetailHot Wheels Military Rods 83 Silverado #25 Of 26 2008 W/protecto Hard To Find Tonka Marine Service Ford Cab Tt Truck W/ Boats & Motors V Rare 1960 Mint In BoxMatchbox Lesney 25 Car Counter Top Display New In Orig Fred Bronner Shipping BoxVintage Wood & Metal Tether Car Style Model 1950s Indy 500 Roadster Race CarDanbury Mint 1956 Ford Crown Fairlane Victoria Limited Edition, Mib!! Hot Wheels Redline Custom Vw Volkswagen Bug Blister Pack Bp Moc Olive* Htf 1970 Matchbox Superfast Car Revolving Dealer Display Unit Very Near Mint A 1928 Keystone AmbulanceKeystone 1920's Dump Truck - Repainted1995 Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt 3/12 67 Camaro Early Tonka Toys Ford Cab Tonka Tanker Tt Truck 60's Mint Original BoxErtl American Muscle Dukes Of Hazzard General Lee 1:18 Scale 1969 Dodge Charger 26" Buddy L Coal Truck - Expertly Restored. A Hard To Find TruckRare Tonka Red Cab 50s Interchangeable Long Stake Bed Farm Truck MudflapsMatchbox Lesney Vauxhall Cresta Rare 22 B7 ('58) Two Tone Gpw Vnm & Crafted BoxAutoart 1/18 Mercedes Benz 600 Pullman With Leather Seats Black Limited 761971968 Hot Wheels Redline Lot Of 15 Custom Dodge Charger Continental Mark Iii PinkVintage Toy Illinois Power Bucket Truck By Ertl Exoto 1/18 Porsche 934 Rsr Vaillant-kremer Champion Porsche Cup Bob Wollek #9Dukes Of Hazzard Autoworld General Lee 1/18 1969 ChargerSuper Rare Boxed Vintage 1957 Tonka No.a.c. 310 Blue Box Trailer Nice OriginalA 1926 Keystone Fire TruckVtg Smith Miller Mack Truck Mobil Oil Tanker Truck W/ Metal Wood Trailer95 Treasure Hunt Series 67 CamaroToy Stamp & 1940s Giant Buddy L Pressed Steel Ride On TruckVintage 1950s Aa Wrecker Tonka White Tow TruckOld Keystone Toy Dump Truck Pressed Steel 26" Estate Found1995 Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt '67 Camaro-bonus Store DisplayBuddy L International Ride On Dump Truck, For RestorationNew Dukes Of Hazzard General Lee Diecast 1/18 Scale Car Auto World Amm 964Matchbox Superfast 48a Dodge Dumper Truck – Rare ‘i’ Box50's All American Ford Style 10 Wheel Dump Truck Like Smith MillerHot Wheels Red Line, Rl Hk, Blister Bp, Enamel Gloss Orange Vega Bomb, Mint !!!.Tonka Red Cab 50s Diamond Plate Interchangeable Bed Log Hauler Truck MudflapsDanbury Mint 1951 Studebaker Commander Coupe Maui Blue Only Le 1000 MadeDanbury Mint 1968 Bullitt Ford Mustang 1/24Danbury Mint 1952 White 4 Car Carrier- Nmib/papers! W/accessories- Very Rare! Corgi Original Gift Set No 38 Empty Outer Box Vintage 1950s Red Tonka Pumper Fire Truck #5 With Accessories1965 Nylint 29” Pressed Steel Ford Truck #6600 & Mobile Home Set #6601 Boxed!1950s Smith Miller 35” Pressed Steel Long Nose Mack Red/black Tandem Log Truck1950s Smith Miller 20” Us Army 2.5 Ton Long Nose Mack Flatbed TruckVintage Doepke Caterpiller D6 With Original Box Nice Model Toys 1950sMint In Box 1959 Tonka No. 20 Dump Truck Wow!Vintage Smith Miller Mobilgas Mobiloil Gmc Tanker Truck 1949 Smitty Toys - MobilVintage 60's Tonka Pull Behind Boat & Trailer With MotorTonka Toys 1954 Official Service Truck Mound Minnesota Tow Wrecker Nice VintageRare 1930 Buddy L Dump Truck (jr. Series)Ltd Toy Stamp & Vintage 1960's Tonka Ser-vi-car Near Mint In Box1967 Vintage Corgi Batman Batmobile + Batboat Gift Set #31920 Turner Packard Pressed Steel Car 26"Danbury Mint 50 Years Of Corvettes Collectible 1:43 Cars & Display Rack Franklin Mint 1:24 1966 Corvette 427/425hp Convertible - Independent Le 350 Vintage Buddy L Flivver Truck1952 Tonka #500 Livestock Truck 100% Original Mint Rare BeautyLincoln Toys Of Canada Tow TruckHot Wheels Redline 1968 Usa Custom Mustang Blue W Brown Int.Rr Rumblers Gift Set Super Rare