On this page are some examples of tinplate & pressed steel toy car that would have been available in the 1930s - 1950s era. The short animated video below also features a number of classic Scalex tin-plate racing cars from the 1950s.
Before manufacturers fully got to grips with plastic toy manufacture, the majority of toy cars that were available in the shops during the 1930s-1950s were either of die-cast, or tin-plate, metal construction.
On this page are some examples of the tinplate toys that fortunate children either side of WW2 could hope (!) to receive at Christmas time, or on their birthday. Such toys were a real luxury back then, and many will have been cherished for year after year - not something that happens so often in today's throwaway society, with nearly-new toys ending up in the bin after a very short time. Attention spans were longer in the 40s and 50s, hence children didn't get bored with just one toy in the way that happens today in many cases.
The fact that any toy has survived over 50+ years is testimony to one child's care and appreciation of it. Tin plate toys are quite vulnerable to knocks and dents, so finding perfect examples of original tin toys is not easy. My own tin toys show varying levels of play-wear, ranging from good condition, right down to borderline scrap.
My own interest is in toys depicting racing cars of years gone by, hence the bias in the selection of toys shown below. If you have some photos of other tinplate toy cars that would look good on here, by all means fire them over and I'll happily include them here too. You can also see details of rare plastic toys and die-cast toys elsewhere in this toy section. Click any of these for more info: