top of page

Understanding Model Car Scales and Sizing

Questions concerning how to choose the right scale are often the first inquiries among beginner diecast car collectors. Choosing the right scale for model cars is essential for many collectors of model vehicles, especially those who have specific model types and sizes in mind for their collection (ex: collecting models that are all the same size for a uniform collection appearance). Understanding scale is the most effective way to find the best scale for the overall theme of a model collection. Let’s briefly cover what scale is, what it means, and the basics of some of the most popular scales used for model cars. What is Scale? In relation to models, scale ratio refers to the proportions of an item as relates to the size and shape of the original structure. The scale of a diecast car, for example, may be listed as 1/24, which means that the model is one 24th the size of the original car. A diecast car scale is a label used to clearly display the model’s size, which can be expressed either as a fraction or as a ratio. A scale listed as 1/24 has the same meaning and measurement as a scale listed as 1:24.

Model scales may also be referred to as gauges, so if this term comes up, it’s describing the model’s size and scale. Gauges are often used for pieces that are intended for use with a model train set. It’s worth noting that although model tractors and larger vehicles are often made in small scales, due to the size of the original vehicle, these models are still quite large. Many times, small-scale model tractors and pieces of construction equipment are the same size as car and truck models made at scales of 1:24. Popular Scales for Diecast Models Model car scales vary, and because many collectors prefer models of the same size, it’s a good idea to be familiar with standard scales so that you can choose the most appropriate sizing for the models in your collection. Let’s explore the details of the most popular scales for diecast Models.

1:12 Scale Vehicles in the 1:12 scale are large models that are typically very detailed. They range from 14 to 15 inches long and they’re generally on the expensive side of model pricing. They’re geared toward adult collectors and often, motorcycle models are made in this scale.

1:18 Scale The 1:18 scale is also for large, typically detailed models, though they’re a few inches smaller than models in the 1:12 scale. They’re geared toward mostly adult collectors and several car or truck models might be made in this scale. This scale is most popular in America, though some European and Australian companies produce models in this size as well.

1:24 Scale This scale has been a favorite in the US for many years, due to the variety of construction kits and dealer promotions that have been created in this size. Models in the 1:24 scale are between 6.5 and 8 inches long, and popular brands that use this scale include Franklin Mint and Trax. Mebetoys in Italy also produces a large range of affordable 1:24 toy cars.

1:32 Scale This intermediate size is the most common for model tractors and other agricultural vehicle models. Britain has used this scale for several decades and it’s also used by companies like Ertl and Siku. The 1:32 scale is also common in vintage car models. Models of tractors and construction vehicles, in addition to the 1:32 scale often come in smaller scales like 1:50 and 1:64 as well.

1:36 Scale This scale usually carries models that are between 4 and 6 inches long, and they’re a common scale for vehicles from brands like Maisto, Kinsmart, and Welly. They were made popular by the brand Corgi in the 1970s.

1:43 Scale Many small models are made in the 1:43 scale, as this is the most popular scale for model cars across the globe. This scale is used most commonly in Britain, Europe, Japan, and Australia, but it is less common in the US. In addition to its common use in model truck designs, this scale is also widely used in the design of hand-built resin and white metal models. Feel free to browse the model car selection by size and scale on the J. Thomas Collectibles website. We have an array of model scales available, including the popular 1:24 Category