The classic cars also known as muscle cars were cars of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
If you couldn’t afford or were too young to buy a muscle car back then, what could you do?
For many, the next best thing was to buy, collect and build a muscle car from a variety of model car kits.
Hundreds of different kits of molded plastic were made and many of these have become collectible today, especially in original, un-assembled form.
Some companies started selling large scale die-cast cars pre-assembled, made of metal and factory produced. These are highly collectible in mint condition in their original boxes. We are not talking about the Matchbox cars or Hot Wheel cars here.
American demand for power, speed
After World War II, muscle cars were introduced by many American car manufacturers to meet the demands for speed and power.
Most cars were modeled after customized and fast cars used by the bootleggers during Prohibition. It wasn’t until the mid-1950s that “muscle cars” became popular, but it was during the 1960s when they grew more in number and became a contributing automobile style for American automakers Chevy, Pontiac, Dodge, Plymouth and Ford.
These same cars became NASCAR’s need-for-speed race cars.
Model car and die cast models were soon on the market.
Do research before buying
Collectors today of these model car kits and die-cast cars have many venues available to buy and sell, including Facebook and other online sites, swap meets, flea-markets and toy shows such as the Big Antique & Toy Show, March 13 at Graham Park in Rochester.
Do your research before you head on out to purchase cars. It is not always buy it because you like it, but buy it if it fits into your collection and if you can afford it. This can be a costly hobby.
Always refer to a collectible pricing guide for die-cast cars. These guides usually include the current market value of the die-cast car in various sizes. Make sure the price guide is not out of date since the current market value of a particular car is not the same as it was five years ago. Many price guides can be found online.
New Generations of Harmony has a large selection of collectible classic cars, trucks, and race cars, manager Erica Thilges said, and most are in their original boxes. Classic cars range in price from $22 to $50, trucks from $20 to $155 and race cars from $10 to $18.
“They’re among the most sought-after items in our shop and selections vary day-to-day. In other words, if you like it, buy it,” Thilges said. “I can’t tell you how many folks come back for a collectible car they saw, but it sold since they were in.”
The die-cast metal cars at Sarah’s Uniques & Jim’s “Man”tiques in St. Charles are predominently the Ertl brand and priced from $8 to $40, said owner Sarah Kieffer.
At the Old Rooster Antiques in Rochester has die-cast cars as well as trucks, mostly with advertising, and made by various companies including Ertl, Nylint, Gear Box and SpecCast, mostly in the $20-$35 range. Some small sized Buddy L vehicles from the 1980s sell in the $18–$28 range, said vendor/manager Paul Larsen.
The Old River Valley Antique Mall in Stewartille also has die-cast cars made by Greenlight, Maista and Motor Max and prices are in the $10 to $45 range, owner Chris Rand Kujath said.
Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at
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