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Model car

A model vehicle or toy vehicle is a miniature representation of an automobile. Other miniature motor vehicles, such as trucks, buses, or even ATVs, etc. are often included in this general category. Because many miniature vehicles were originally aimed at children as playthings, there is no precise difference between a model car and a toy car, yet the word 'model' implies either assembly required or the accurate rendering of an actual vehicle at smaller scale. The kit building hobby became popular through the 1950s, while the collecting of miniatures by adults started to pick up momentum around 1970. Precision-detailed miniatures made specifically for adults are a significant part of the market since the mid-1980s (Gibson 1970, p. 9; Harvey 1974; Johnson 1998, p. 5).

Miniature models of automobiles first appeared in Europe around the time real automobiles did. Then, shortly after, they appeared in the United States (Harvey 1974, p. 1995-1996). These were toys and replicas often made of lead and brass (Harvey 1974, p. 1995). Later models made in the early twentieth century were slush cast plaster or iron. Tin and pressed steel cars, trucks, and military vehicles, like those made by Bing of Germany, were introduced in the 1920s through the 1940s, but period models rarely copied actual vehicles, likely because of the crudeness of early casting and metal shaping techniques (Harvey 1974, p. 1995, 1997). Casting vehicles in various alloys, usually zinc (called zamac or mazac), became popular in the late 1930s and remained prominent after World War II (Earle 2009).

Post-war, pressed tin and diecast zinc were the most popular materials used in Europe and Japan. Mass-produced diecast metal toys appeared in America as well, but unlike those in Europe, they were often cruder and less detailed. Meanwhile, the use of plastics surged and became popular by the mid-1950s. During the 1950s and 1960s, tin and pressed steel were seen broadly Japan, which dominantly used diecast into the 1970s. By 2000, China and other countries of Southeast Asia became the main producers of diecast metal companies headquartered in Europe, the United States and Japan. Generally, as of 2015, only specialty models for collectors are still made in Europe or the United States.

  • Clor, John M. 1990. Squeeze Play, AutoWeek, December 3, pp. 17–19.
  • Consumer Guide. 1979. Model Cars. New York: Beekman House. .
  • Donnelly, Jim. 2012. Dave Sinclair. Personality Profile. Hemmings Classic Car, #88, January, vol. 8, no. 4 pp. 54–57.
  • Doty, Dennis. 2000a. Cabs Forward. Collectible Scale Automobile section. Collectible Automobile, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 88–90.
  • Doty, Dennis. 2000b. 1965: The Year in Miniature. Collectible Scale Automobile section. Collectible Automobile, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 87–90.
  • Doty, Dennis. 2000c. Shades of Difference. Collectible Scale Automobile section. Collectible Automobile, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 87–89.
  • Earle, Joe. 2009. Buriki. Japanese Tin Toys from the Golden Age of the American Automobile: The Yoku Tanaka Collection. New York, New York: The Japan Society. Distributed by Yale University Press.
  • Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild. 1956. How to Build a Model Car. Pamphlet published by General Motors Corporation.
  • Force, Dr. Edward. 1991. Classic Miniature Vehicles Made in France with price guide and variations list. West Chester, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing.
  • Ford Motor Company. 1953. Ford at Fifty. Simon & Schuster.
  • Funding Universe webpage. No date. Company history of Revell-Monogram. [1]
  • Gibson, Cecil. 1962. Plastic Model Cars. Watford, Hertfordshire, England: Model Aeronautical Press.
  • Gibson, Cecil. 1970. Commercial Vehicles. Troy Model Club Series. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons.
  • Gowland & Gowland webpage. 2007. Scale Auto Magazine website forum. Posted January 10. [2]
  • Harvey, Brian. 1974. Motoring in Miniature. The World of Automobiles: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Motor Car, Vol. 17, pp. 1995–1998. London: Orbis Publishing, distributed by Columbia House.
  • Hudson "Display Models". Viewed 2010. 1932 1/4 scale Hudsons and text on display. Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum. Ypsilanti, Michigan.
  • Jewell, Brian F. 1963. Model Car Collecting. Temple Press Books Ltd.
  • Johnson, Dana. 1998. Collector's Guide to Diecast Toys & Scale Models, Second Edition. Padukah, KY: Collector Books, a Division of Schroeder Publishing.
  • King, Constance Eileen. The Encyclopedia of Toys. Secaucus, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, A Division of Book Sales, Inc.
  • Lehto, Steve. 2010. Chrysler's Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Coolest Creation. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press.
  • Miller, Chuck. 2011. Revell: After 60 Years Still Building the Future. Toy Collector Magazine on-line. [3]
  • Olson, Randall. 2008. GM in Miniature. Dorchester, England: Veloce Publishing.
  • Parker, Bob. 1993. Hot Wheels: A Collector's Guide. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing.
  • Purdy, Steve. 2004. Recaptured Youth: A Reunion of the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild, Collectible Automobile, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 64–73 (December).
  • Quinn, Richard. 2004. Life and Death of a Giant, Turning Wheels Almanac (a publication dedicated to Studebaker history). September.
  • Ragan, Mac. 2000. Diecast Cars of the 1960s. Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing.
  • Ralston, Andrew. 2007. Plastic Toy Cars of the 1950s & 1960s. Dorset, England: Veloce Publishing. .
  • Rixon, Peter. 2005. Miller's Collecting Diecast Vehicles. London: Miller's, a division of Mitchell Beazley. .
  • Seeley, Clint. No Date. 1933-1941 Tootsietoy Models. Found on Toy Museum at Home. Website of the De Lespinay Collection. [4]
  • Stambler, Irwin. 1966. Automobiles of the Future. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. ASIN: B0007DTJH0.
  • Stoneback, Bruce and Diane. 2002. Matchbox Toys, The Collector's Guide. London: Eagle Editions, A Quantum Book.


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