Automotive scale models have existed for as long as the full-size vehicles they’re based on have. These diminutive replicas can range massively in both price and detail, with the two largely proportionate. Hundreds of pounds for a model with incredible amounts of detail is not uncommon, right down to Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars costing pocket change.
A distinction needs to be made between toys and models: Toys are for playing with and models are for collecting and display. But that doesn’t mean toys can’t be collected. Hot Wheels are some of the most collectible automotive memorabilia around.
The Autojumble at the 2022 NEC Classic Motor Show last weekend had an incredible array of both of both model types. Let’s take a quick look…
With insurance, maintenance and fuel requirements, cars can quickly become a costly endeavour. And that’s if you can even buy one in the first place; with most competition or historic cars it’s out of the question. While you can’t drive these models (RC cars are another story entirely), a huge part of what attracts an individual to a car is its outward appearance. This is where scale models come in. You have something you can admire, and being so small you can fit quite a few on a shelf.
I was surprised not only by the age of model cars on display at the Classic Motor Show, with some Dinky and Corgi models many decades old, but also the variety.
The older model cars generally lacked detail, which can be attributed to the manufacturing processes of their time. All these models were hand modelled for a mould before being cast in zamac zinc alloy, then painted by hand.
As technology has advanced and allowed for automation and mass production, so have the models. Most modern releases have incredible detail, such as spoked wheels with period-correct tyre treads. Some even feature wear and tear, as if they have just finished a race or rally stage.
New manufacturing processes have also allowed for highly-detailed, smaller-scale models to be produced, down to 1:64 and even less in some cases.
I could almost guarantee that if you’re into some weird, obscure car, at some point a company has made a model of it.
Citroën DS car transporter with an Austin Healy Bugeye Sprite onboard? Check.
Alpina E30 B3 2.7? Right here. What about a late-’90s British ice cream truck? I can almost hear the music playing now…
A rise in tuner car culture has meant scale models have shifted to follow the latest trends too.
More and more cars are not only modified, they’re done well. Arch gap, tyre and wheel sizes, all accurate.
If you prefer the do-it-yourself approach, some Classic Motor Show vendors offered a huge selection of kits, again ranging from totally obscure to all the popular models.
Unless your tastes lean more towards bigger and more detailed models, you don’t necessarily need deep pockets to start collecting. That’s the great thing about the hobby; it’s incredibly inclusive and there’s something for everyone at all price points.
Be warned though, scale model collecting is a very slippery slope and another automotive rabbit hole that’s all too easy to go down. So I’ll close off with the following: I don’t know anyone with just a single model in their collection…
Feel free to share your most prized model – or perhaps the size of your entire collection – in the comments below.