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]

Race Car Toys And Automobilia

Race Car Toys And Automobilia

Paul Chenard's impressive collection of vintage model race cars (mostly European) including Hotwheels, Dinky, Match… [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    

In Near Mint Condition Hot Wheels Redline 1967 Custom Camaro- UsaAntique Vintage 1920s Pressed Steel Buddy L Hydraulic Aerial Ladder Fire Truck 1958 Tonka Red Gasoline Truck No. 33 In Original Box Pressed Steel Gas Hot Wheels Redline Custom Mustang In Original Unopened Blister Pack Cheetah CardVintage 1930’s Buddy L Pressed Steel Shell Gas Toy Ih International Tanker TruckHot Wheels Redline Olds 442 -light Apple Green Spectraflame, Nice1963 Tonka Toys Ramp Hoist Truck Red Vintage Pressed Steel Truck Smith Miller Mack International Paper Co. Semi Truck & Trailer Original RareVintage Early Lesney Matchbox Dealer Round Rotating 80 Car 55 Cent Store DisplayVintage 1960 Red Tonka Tanker Fuel Truck - 28" Long - RareHot Wheels Redline Olds 4421971 Hot Wheels Redline Heavyweights Racer Rig - White Enamel Up BlisterpackAntique 1920's Buddy L Pressed Steel Steam Shovel Old Edwardian Construction ToyTonka Big Mike Dump Bed And Other State Hi-way Parts1958 Tonka Toys Nationwide Moving Semi Truck And Trailer Moving Van Number 39 Vintage Lot Of 81 Hot Wheels Redline & Case Estate Find From Original Owner!Buddy L Dump Truck1958 Tonka Farms Stock Rack Truck Number 32 Terrific Original TruckVintage C.1931 Coca Cola Metalcraft Metal Toy Truck W/soda Pop Bottles SignSmith & Miller Bekins Moving TruckAntique Buddy L Dairy Transporter - 26" LongVintage 1971 " Cox " .049 Gas Powered " Eliminator 2 " Dragster. Tether Car.Unfinised Project Custom Model Toys Doepke D-6 Caterpillar Bulldozer1930s Cor Cor Chrysler Airflow Toy Car1956 Tonka Toys Rescue Metro Van With Crosses On Back Doors Original Truck Vintage 1950's Tru Scale Parts And Service Trailer 1/18 Scale Made In U.s.a.Matchbox Lesney 22 B Vauxhall Sea Geen (turquoise) & Pink Extreme Rarity Vintage Tonka State Hi-way Orange Dump Truck W/ 2 Snow Plow Attachments NrKingsbury Original Roadster With Headlights1920s Antique Keystone Pressed Steel Steam Roller Edwardian Era Construction ToyAntique Buddy L Hydraulic Dump Truck Pressed Steel Model 201-a WorkingVintage Original Mattel 1970 Hot Wheels Redline Dark Blue Bye-focalHot Wheels Redline Ice Blue Custom Vw *rare!*4 Rare Vintage Mattel Hot Wheels Rrrumblers Skeleton Bone Shaker Group Lot1963 Tonka Ramp Hoist TruckVintage Lot Hot Wheels Redline 1967-1970 Tri Baby, Silver Shadow, Eldorado, CarsVintage 1970 Hot Wheels Redline Spoilers Aqua Tnt Bird Moc Bp BlisterKeystone Moving VanRare Vintage Redline Hot Wheels 1969 Red Olds 442 With Pin Back Badge ButtonHot Wheels Snake And Mongoose Drag Race Set Redline **rare** In Original Box1971 Hot Wheels Redline Heavyweights Moving Van - Green Unpunched Blisterpack BpLg A.c. Williams Cast Iron 2 Man Race Car Toy Early Indy Racer Late 1920sSmash Up Derby Kenner Ssp 1971Red Line Us Lime Yellow Eldorado Us W White Int Mint On Card & Ltd Toy StampVintage Nip1972 Mattel Redline Hotwheels Red Jettin Vette Revvers Car Corvette1959 Tonka Hi-way Dept Land Rover (like Big Mike)1930's Metalcraft Goodrich Silvertown Wrecker Tow Truck. All Original! Art DecoMatchbox Lesney G-6 Mail Order Gift Pack Commercial Truck Set 1964Smith Miller Custom Semi TruckRed Line Volkswagen Us Creamy Lime W White Int Mint On The Card & Ltd Toy StampMarx Big Bruiser Tow Truck With Original Box And More!Fred Thompson Smith Miller Allied Van Lines Moving Truck With Original BoxTonka 1955 Stake Truck No.0860-5 - Near MintRare Early Vintage Smith Miller U.s. Army Flat Bed Mack Truck 1920s Dayton Clark Or Shieble Hill Climber Delivery Truck Friction Auto TruckModel Toys Doepke Private Label Heiliner Scraper Truck V Rare Mint 100% OriginalMicro Machines Huge Lot Of Cars Trucks Boats Display Storage Cases Extras1968 Franklin Mint Airstream Trailer Precision Model Excellent ConditionBulk Lot 300+ Mini Car Lot - Micro Machines Galoob Road Champs & OthersOld Vintage Very Rare Condition 1968 Hot Wheels Redline Green Custom Cougar 6205