It’s Never Been Easier to Buy a Tiny Scale Model of Your Favorite ’90s Race Car

1/64 scale models of the coolest cars have never been more readily accessible to get and give.

byAdam Ismail|
Culture photo
Adam Ismail/The Drive

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We're firmly entrenched in the gift-giving season, and if you're reading The Drive, that means there's a strong likelihood you're searching for delightful trinkets for your fellow car nerds. To potentially assist you in that endeavor, I'm here today to share something I recently learned as an enjoyer, though I'd hesitate to say capital-C Collector, of miniature cars: did you know your favorite (or least favorite) big-box retailer's website sells some pretty rad and esoteric 1/64-scale models?

I'm talking specifically of the Mini GT and Tarmac Works lines. I first happened upon these when browsing Target's app before a late-night grocery-and-essentials run I really wasn't looking forward to. Of course these aren't sold in physical stores, but next time you're ordering something mundane, consider that for another $18, you could snag yourself a little yellow Mazdaspeed FD RX-7 A-Spec with the best rims to live on your desk. Or a Martini-liveried Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione for $14.

That's just Target; Wal-Mart and Amazon have their own selections, and certain retailers offer some cars others don't through third-party sellers that sometimes jack up prices for rare casts. (You've been warned.) Not too long ago as gifts, I was given a 1995 Toyota Supra GT LM, a Neon Genesis Evangelion-liveried GT4 Audi R8 that competed in Japan's Super Taikyu series, and an old Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI WRC car. I did not know you could order these kinds of miniatures from the website of a major retailer, and now that I do, I'm finding myself scoping our model cars more frequently than I have since I was a teenager, and my disposable income was split evenly between scale cars and video games.

Adam Ismail/The Drive

Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention that there are obviously small businesses that offer this stuff too, sometimes with a greater breadth of selection than your average big-box store, or specific cars that are hard to find through names you recognize. The issue with this is, for someone who fell out of habitual model car buying about a decade ago, is that the players in this space have changed a lot since I was last paying attention, so I unfortunately can't recommend a go-to source. A cursory Google search turned up two sites that seem promising to me: DiecastDirect in Kentucky, and Jcar Diecast in Texas. I can't speak to either, but they could be an alternative if you're looking to shop small. If you know of any local stores that deserve a shout out, please give them some love in the comments!

I mainly wanted to share this because, as a 30-year-old, I am continually amazed by the kinds of model cars that are easily attainable today, that I would've loved to be able to beg my parents to buy as a kid. Hot Wheels in and of itself is but one aspect of this trend; have you seen the stuff Mattel has been putting out over the last few years as part of its higher-quality Car Culture line? Getting your hands on those releases is another story, thanks to especially avid collectors that time their visits around when brick-and-mortar stores restock, and inevitably, scalpers.

You end up spending a little (or a lot) more for 1/64-scale models from the likes of Mini GT and Tarmac Works, but the quality is obviously much better, and the particular cars they're replicating are truly inspired. I mean, here's a FATurbo-liveried Porsche 911 RSR from the 1994 24 Hours of Le Mans. I'm pre-adding that to my cart as we speak, so I don't forget about it the next time I need to bulk-order toilet paper.

Point is, however you choose to buy these kinds of premium models, for yourself or someone else, they've never been easier to find. Let this be a notice to all my car friends reading this that a tiny version of a rally or endurance racing car from the '90s is always an acceptable gift for me for any occasion, from now until I stop getting gifts.

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