Some people are lucky enough to have a collection of classic cars. But, this is an unaffordable hobby for most people. Collecting die cast cars is a way for anyone to have a collection of their most loved, most desired cars or other vehicles.
The first die cast vehicles began appearing in 1934. Originally they were additions to model train layouts to add more realism to the tiny towns they created. They weren’t designed to replicate real cars in the beginning. The first to appear were Dinky models, called Meccano Modeled Miniatures, six vehicles were included in a train set.
The materials used to make the first die cast vehicles contained a lot of lead and were very easily broken. For this reason, manufacturers couldn’t incorporate a lot of small details into the vehicles, they just had basic body style with empty interiors.
Realizing the market demand for such vehicles, Dinky soon began to produce more life like die cast cars. They began producing more realistic replicas and eventually added rubber tires and other items such as drivers!
Due to the fragile state caused by the high lead content, few die cast cars from that period survived. And, if you find one in good condition, pre-war era Dinky’s can be worth $1,000 or more. Although, demand will increase value and if someone wants something bad enough, the value can be unlimited.
The Matchbox 1-75 series cars were first manufactured in 1947 by Lesney. The name derived from the fact that there was always 75 vehicles in each line and they were packaged in small boxes that resembled a match box. These vehicles became so popular that the name matchbox became a generic reference to any brand of die cast car.
As the quality and small details increased in the 50’s, popularity increased. And, more companies produced their own lines of die cast cars. The first vehicles to appear with plastic windows, were from Mettoy. The Corgi brand of die cast even had more realistic interiors.
Mattel was sort of pressured into releasing Hot Wheels in 1968. They’d received complaints that they didn’t have a toy for boys that balanced with the enormously popular line of Barbie’s for girls! Hot Wheels were designed to look fast and with the low friction axle assemblies they had, they were fast.
Hot Wheels has became one of the most popular, top selling die cast cars world wide and has proved to be high competition for Matchbox. And, although there are numerous companies that manufacturer die cast cars, Hot Wheels and Matchbox continue to be some of the most desirable to collect.
Die cast vehicles became mini advertisements for companies during the 60’s as they saw them as great promotional tools. And, many well known companies such as McDonald’s and Texaco began using them as promotional items during the 80’s when they realized that most purchases were made by adults to add to collections.
NASCAR became increasingly popular in the 90’s and an entire line of Nascar cars and trucks hit the market. Through the years die cast vehicles have greatly improved in both quality and details. Many are identical in every way to the real thing.
Not all collections of die cast cars are collected for their value. In fact, most die cast car collectors just have a love for cars! Often, the value isn’t in the piece itself, but in the childhood memories the piece brings back for the owner. But, no matter what the reason for collecting them, it’s going to always be a popular toy to collect!
Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2008 TLCollectables.com