Feb 14 2020

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12 Vintage Car Toys Now Worth Big Bucks

Hope you saved those old Hot Wheels. Better yet, hope you never opened them in the first place.

Kids who were into cars, trucks, and motorcycles had plenty of cool toys to choose from in the 1970s and 1980s. These toys were well built and many moved under their own power. And since so many of these machines were modeled after the ones made famous on TV shows and movies, every kid wanted them. Today, adults nostalgic for their youth are paying big bucks for some of these toys. Here are a dozen vintage wheeled toys worth crawling through the attic for.

Launched in 1980, Stomper 4X4s by Schaper were aimed at young kids swept up in the off-road craze. Powered by a single AA battery, these little trucks cost about $10 new and had a four-wheel drive system that turned squishy paddle tires, one set for inside and one set for the outdoors. They even had headlights that lit up. Stompers produced cool models including Subaru Brats, Dodge Power Wagons, Jeep Honcho pickup trucks and even larger Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks. The bodies of these toys were highly detailed and true to the real machines, which added to the fun.

What Are They Worth Today?

Stompers had a rough life. Kids played with them outside in the dirt just to see how capable they were. The bodywork got scratches; the clips that held them on the chassis could break. So Stompers on Ebay are listed with a Buy-It-Now price anywhere from $10 up to about $100 depending on rarity and condition. The aforementioned big rig models seem to be some of the most valuable. Unopened models still sealed in cellophane command several hundred dollars.

Slot car racing tracks were hugely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Big ones occupied major real estate inside hobby shops, but it was the smaller size 1:64 scale slot cars and the tracks they ran on that provided years of fun for car-crazed kids at home. These sets, made primarily by Aurora A/FX (Aurora Factory Experimental) and Tyco, used plastic track with two metal wire rails running along the surface (one for power and one for ground). The small cars have electrical contacts that maintain a connection with the track’s rails. The car’s speed was modulated by a hand-held controller; squeeze that trigger too much when your AFX car approached a curve and it could fly right off the track, something nearly all of us did for fun at one point.

What Are They Worth Today?

In the mid 1970s, an entire AFX slot car set, complete with two or more cars cost less than $40. Today, many of the cars themselves cost that much if the bodies are in good condition. Rare models,can command more than $100, while whole track sets can reach close to $300. One particular ’57 Chevy Nomad-bodied AFX car in its original packaging had a Buy-It-Now price of almost $850 on Ebay.

From 1982 to 1986, car-loving kids around the country were treated to the TV show Knight Rider on Friday nights. It featured a computerized, semi-autonomous, crime-fighting and talking Trans Am known as KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand). The premise sounds ridiculous today, but that all-new Trans Am was freshly styled for the 1980s—just like its co-star, The Hoff. The show was a huge hit and toys flooded the market. One of the coolest was the Voice Car by Kenner. Push down on the cool vintage blue California license plate and the Voice Car would say six different phrases. It came with a Michael Knight action figure, too.

What Are They Worth Today?

Knight Rider toys in general seem to be very collectible.The Voice Car in okay to fair condition, with some scratches on the exterior, will show up on Ebay with Buy-It-Now prices in the $50 to $60 range. Cars that are complete with the box in good shape with minimal scratches are listed at closer to $90. Sealed in the box they can cost hundreds; we saw listed at close to $900.

Motorcycle stunt riding belonged to Evel Knievel in the 1970s. Knievel was legendary not only for the wild jumps he completed, but the ones that he crashed on, too. When Ideal released a series of Evel Knievel toys from ’72-’77, they were red-hot sellers, and the most popular and most valuable of these is the Stunt Cycle. The Stunt Cycle sat in a red launch stand with a handle on one end to crank up the gyro wheel on the back of the cycle. Once fully charged up, the cycle would launch and zoom across your living room or over a jump. It was awesome. Eventually the compnay produced a Dragster, a Chopper, and the Sky Cycle, all of which worked on that gyro platform.

What Are They Worth Today?

The Stunt Cycle was so popular it was re-issued in the 1990s and again in the early 2000s. But it’s the original 1970s merch that brings the money. The rarest and most valuable Stunt Cycle is the Silver High Jumper from 1977. It’s rare and are advertised on Ebay with Buy-It-Now prices ranging from $1,000 to almost $3,000 in perfect condition. Sealed in the box and never opened? Way more. So start digging around your parent’s attic.

Barbie’s got to have her dream car. Mattel made a series of Barbie-themed Corvettes as well as a dune buggy and a hip little Beach Bus van back in the day. But the Star Traveler, launched in 1976, was the best of them all. Here was a faithful three-foot long scale replica of GMC’s innovative front-wheel drive, V8-powered motorhome. The Star Traveler was produced through the 1980s and featured many of the amenities of the real motorhome, including a shower, couch, beds, kitchen, and even a detachable sun deck and even a little hibachi grill.

What Are They Worth Today?

The Star Traveler cost a mere $19.97 in 1977’s Sears Catalog and came in several color schemes throughout the years, though the original yellow seems to be the most popular. Barbie toys are highly collectible, and this motorhome is no exception. Well-used Star Travelers are offered on Ebay in the $40 to $90 range. But lightly-used ones that include all the accessories and the original box can range from $100 to over $200. So the next time one appears at a local yard sale for ten bucks, snag it.

You know. Hot Wheels are some of the most popular and valuable toy cars of all time. The brand launched in 1968 as a more fun and custom take on the traditional small toy car. Sixteen cars were released that very first year. Since that time there have been thousands more launched in practically every design imaginable. Hot Wheels and those iconic playsets remain popular today with more than four billion of them produced. Hot Wheels collectors are a devoted bunch. So it’s not hard to find the ones you played with as a kid for sale today on Ebay. Most are still cheap because the company built so many of them. But the funky and unique ones can command staggering prices.

What Are They Worth Today?

Because there are so many Hot Wheels out there, it depends on condition and rarity. One car might be worth ten bucks in the most common paint scheme but more than $300 in a rare color that was sold outside the U.S. Generally, the early cars with redline tires are some of the most valuable; the most desirable ones can command thousands of dollars. One of the most valuable is the 1969 prototype VW “Beach Bomb” worth more than $70,000. There are quite a few 70s models with some value. For instance, the “Staff Car” from ’77 was only issued in a military-themed set and could be worth close to $800. Similarly, a rare version of the Porsche 911 in “Gold Chrome” paint from 1975, 1976 or 1977 could bring its owner a cool grand. So dig around your collection—there might be a hidden treasure.

The Dukes of Hazzard was one of the first TV shows to launch a full-scale toy marketing blitz. Toy companies produced a staggering number of branded products in the 1970s. From watches to sneakers to big wheel cycles and “walkie talkies,” practically everything a kid could wear, ride or play with had a Dukes version. The items that seem to get the big bucks today are from Mego. Mego made not only the action figures but also a full range of cars from the show. Of course the General Lee, the Dukes’ 1969 Dodge Charger, was the one on most kids’ Christmas list back in 1981. And it was sweet, featuring a roof hatch for Bo and Luke Duke to jump inside for their next adventure. Because as everyone knows, the General Lee’s doors were welded shut.

What Are They Worth Today?

Cruise Ebay and the prices for these cars (which include the action figures) are eye-popping. These Mego General Lees, including the original packaging in very good condition, seem to be listing for $400 to $600. If you happen to have the Mego-produced Boss Hogg Cadillac taking up space in your basement, then you’d better sit down. The listings on Ebay for this toy are wild. We saw an opened, played with Cadillac selling for just under $500 and two perfect ones in their boxes selling for $2,999 and $4,000.

G.I Joe was the original action figure when it launched in the mid-1960s. But by the 1980s, it needed a re-boot, so Hasbro re-invented the G.I. Joe lineup of toys for 1982 as “The Real American Hero,” and the toys got a big boost from the popular G.I. Joe cartoon launched at the same time. The show featured more than 200 vehicles invented for the Joes. One of the most popular was the electric Motorized Battle Tank which used two D-cell batteries and cost $14.99.

What Are They Worth Today?

According to, a G.I Joe MOBAT in excellent condition is valued at about $325 in the package or around $85 loose. We found one listed on Ebay for $250 that included the box (with a few dings and scratches, complete with instructions) and a non-working tank for $250. Another one that appeared to be in excellent condition loose was listed for $149 in working condition. If there’s a pristine MOBAT from the early 1980s buried in some box in your garage, it could be fairly valuable.

Kids that grew up in the 1970s had one James Bond car on their minds. Not the iconic Aston Martin DB5 of the 1960s, but the bright white wedge-shaped Lotus Esprit from 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. It was captivating not just because of how it looked, but because of what it did. In the movie, the Lotus plunges into the surf and transforms into Bond’s personal submarine. So when toy company Corgi came out with a James Bond Lotus Esprit, it was a big hit. The best part about this car was that it, too, transformed. Press the black button at the base of the windshield and the stabilizer fins and tail section pop out of the bodywork. It even came with four red rockets that could be launched from underneath the rear window.

What Are They Worth Today?

Well-worn examples seem to be trading for around $20. But like all toys, when the box and all the parts are included, the price ramps up. Quite a few of these cars in better condition, including the box and all the rockets in excellent shape, are listed on Ebay for between $100 and $200.

Besides the General Lee, Mego produced more of the coolest toys of the 1970s, including action figures and playsets from the original Planet of the Apes movies. When it comes to cars, the favorite might be their battery-operating Gran Torino from Starsky and Hutch. Action figures from the show (sold separately) could ride inside the Torino as one large motorized wheel underneath the 15-inch long car allowed it to spin and swivel in any direction. And it came with a light on the roof that lit up as well as a barricade, street light, and trash can to replicate a real 70s-style police chase. Not a bad deal for under $12.

What Are They Worth Today?

The battery-powered model by Mego is rare and very hard to find in excellent condition. We found one with the box in non-working condition for $119.99. So it’s not unlikely that an example of this toy in perfect boxed condition could sell for $300-$400—if you could find one.

In the 1980s, every car kid wanted a Tamiya radio controlled (RC) car. These electric cars sold as kits were far more powerful, detailed, and capable than anything else around. The early off-road buggies and four-wheel drive trucks were some of the most popular, including the Hornet and Grasshopper released in 1984 as well as 4X4s like Hot Shot (’85) and Monster Beetle (’86). These kits were all wonderful machines to own, in part because you built them yourself (or, depending on your age, got a bit of help from dad). Parts were available to rebuild, upgrade and in some cases re-power your vehicle into something much quicker than what came in the box. Even in stock form, these were incredible machines, with functional long-travel suspensions, big power and grippy tires.

What Are They Worth Today?

Tamiya has re-issued many of the most popular kits from the 1980s and to the casual observer they look the same. However, those re-issued models are not exactly identical. And collectors want the original ones. An original Tamiya car from the 1980s seems to go for about double what a re-issue does—$200-$300. If these cars are still in their boxes, unbuilt, they can command thousands of dollars.

Heavy steel Tonka trucks have been toy staples from the mid-1960 through to today. In the mid-70s, Tonka produced a version of Winnebago’s popular motorhome. The roof lifted off to reveal a replica of a real Winnebago’s interior complete with seating, bathroom, and kitchen. It even came with two clothed dolls and a dog named Scamp. But because it was a Tonka, this motorhome was rugged and built with the same tough steel sheelmetal and frame as the iconic dump trucks.

What Are They Worth Today?

The large, nearly two-foot-long versions of these toys in the original white and green paint scheme are listed on Ebay from about $40 to $150 depending upon condition. We did see one that included the box and the buyer was asking over $300. So clearly a Tonka Winnebago with the box must be a rare item.

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