Dave Burnham, Connecticut Cruise News, January/February, 2013
On February 24th, NASCAR’s Daytona 500 will roar into life both on track and on TV screens throughout the world. A new season will begin, bringing new cars, new drivers, new sponsors, new paint schemes and new car/driver combinations. A long winter of waiting will be over for race fans.
It’s not just race fans who are waiting anxiously, though. Die-cast model collectors will be scouring the Internet and hobby stores looking for the new model releases to bolster their collections of NASCAR replicas.
NASCAR die-cast collecting is a great way for fans to get deeper into the sport. As new paint schemes race each week on the track, there’s a great chance these unique cars will become a collectable. The popularity of NASCAR creates a great demand for these replicas.
The most common sizes are 1:64 scale and 1:24 scale. The most popular manufacturer is Lionel NASCAR Collectables – formerly called Motorsports Authentics – and their website can be found at http://www.lionelnascarcollectables.com.
The price of these cars depends on their size and detail. Many people collect the larger 1:24 scale NASCAR die-cast cars because of the level of detail. The up-side is that these are easily the most impressive, and most collectible of the group.
Collecting 1:24 scale is not only fun, but can also be extremely profitable. The best place that I’ve found to look for 1:24 model cars is eBay. You want to make sure that you don’t just buy every model you see though. Look for auctions that have low opening bids, end at weird hours of the night, misspelling of the drivers name or NASCAR, etc. You can get some great deals by searching out other peoples’ mistakes.
Models in 1:24 scale are great to show off. But for some collectors, that size is too big, which makes1:64 the ideal scale because you can easily fit more in a display case or on a shelf. For many, 1:64 is a better option because of the price, especially if a collector has a few favorite drivers with a lot of different paint schemes through the years.
If you’re a bargain hunter and shop for cheap NASCAR die-cast, 1:64 scale is often a great option because it balances detail and scale perfectly. Also, 1:64 scale models by NASCAR Authentics can be bought in Walmart, Toys R Us, Target, etc. You can even buy the race haulers for certain teams/cars as well. In 2012, model-car giant Hot Wheels released a set of six classic 1940s/50s/60s stock car models that included a ’40 Ford Coupe, ’56 Merc, ’57 Plymouth, ’59 Impala, ’65 Galaxie and ’66 Chevelle.
The best advice for new collectors is to collect what you love. If your favorite driver is Mark Martin, collect Mark Martin models. If you’re a Chevy fan, collect Chevy die-casts regardless of the driver. If you’re a NASCAR fan, collect what you think is cool. If you’re new to collecting I would start with the current year’s models as they will probably be the easiest to get your hands on.
The real fun in collecting is going back to find all the die-casts that were released in the past. If you decide to collect Jimmie Johnson models, Jimmie’s been racing in the Cup series since 2001 – so that’s 12 years of models you get to go back and find to add to your collection. That’s what makes being a collector a real hobby.
Lionel Collectables recently released its top-10 sellers list of 2012 and it listed Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the most popular driver. Earnhardt’s No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet was the best-selling 1:24 scale die-cast car. In addition to the top spot, Earnhardt also claimed spots two and four.
Danica Patrick’s No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet die-cast was also a hit in 2012, ending the year in third place on the list. For the second year in a row, a NASCAR Classics die-cast also made the cut. Released in April 2012, Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo, which he wheeled in 1989, took the eighth spot.
Dale Earnhardt was one of the greatest racing legends of all time, and his legacy will be remembered for decades to come, which is why I also suggest that you collect Dale Earnhardt die-cast models. They’ve already become popular with collectors and there’s no sign of them dropping in value anytime soon.
Models of cars raced or owned by Richard Petty will always be highly collectable and well-liked. How well-liked? There’s even a book dedicated to models of “The King’s” cars called “Richard Petty: The Cars Of The King” that’s available on Amazon.
Jeff Gordon is one of the most popular and accomplished racers in history. If you’re looking to build a collection of cars that’s going to be worth some money, be sure to buy some Jeff Gordon models.
It will only take a few minutes on the Internet to see a variety of prices for NASCAR models in the same scale. The cost difference is mainly due to the different manufacturers. The $29 cars are less detailed and usually have a higher production number. The $65 cars are your standard version with excellent detail and low production numbers. The $99 cars are highly detailed and have very low production numbers. If you can afford to add all $99 cars to your collection, that’s great. If you can only afford to add the $29 cars to your collection, that’s fine as well.
The box the car comes in is just as important as the car. Whether you plan to keep or sell your collection, it’s important to keep everything in mint condition. Whether you keep the car in the box is up to you.
Displaying your collection could cover a feature all of its own. You want to display your collection in a way that will protect it from dust, scratches and sunlight, making a closed display case the ideal choice.
Like any collectible, some die-cast hold their value while others either decrease or increase. It’s hard to say what items in your collection will be worth in the future. After years of collecting, you’ll have models of cars that have meaning to you. It’s likely you won’t want to part with your collection – you just may want to pass it on to the next generation.