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I am building my O scale layout and I have been putting together some cars and trucks for it. I am looking for older vehicles from the 1940s to the 1970s. I have been noticing that there is a huge variety of these older vehicles available in HO & N scales at very low prices. However, many of these same classic vehicles are priced outrageously high in the 1/43, 1/48, or 1/50 scale. A lot of these classic cars are priced around $50 and more. Some of these vehicles are over $100 each. I can't believe that it costs any more to manufacture vehicles in O scale, than it does in HO or N scales, but yet, these cars are a lot more affordable. I would like to find some sources online where I can buy classic O scale cars & trucks that are reasonably priced. If anybody out there knows of some online sources, please let me know. I welcome any help in this area.

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Haawk58, you have a Schnucks in Farmington, right?  It's a long shot but I've found some at my local Schnucks (St. Louis) on an end cap around the seasonal stuff.  Also, check Menard's.  If you can't find them at your local store, they're always on their website. They have a 16 car selection of cars for $34.71.  However, those are more modern than you're looking for.  They have older cars though not as cheap.  Like this one.  I found some at Sam's last Christmas season.

My suggestion is to go to your local drug store (CVS, Walgreens, etc)., an art supply store like Michaels, or even a store like Target or Walmart. They always have a small stack of diecast vehicles in a corner somewhere. Although they will not all be 1/43, 1/48, 1/50 scale, I can usually find one or two. For over a year every time I could go into one of those stores I would pick one up for $6 and by the end, I had enough vehicles for my entire layout.

Whenever you walk through a Walmart, Walgreens, Dollar General, wherever, walk through the toy area to see if they have any cheap vehicles.  I found these two "low rider"pickup trucks in a Dollar General about ten years ago.  The price for both of them in a blister pack was absolute ridiculous - - two bucks!  They looked great in front of the Starlight Diner on my last layout.

Two bucks worth of Low Rider Pickup Trucks from Dollar General at Diner

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@RJ I posted:

My suggestion is to go to your local drug store (CVS, Walgreens, etc)., an art supply store like Michaels, or even a store like Target or Walmart. They always have a small stack of diecast vehicles in a corner somewhere. Although they will not all be 1/43, 1/48, 1/50 scale, I can usually find one or two. For over a year every time I could go into one of those stores I would pick one up for $6 and by the end, I had enough vehicles for my entire layout.

Plus1 on the drug stores.  And they often have sales 2 for $5.

Not all, but many of these cars are from CVS Pharmacy.

Stay away from the 1:36.  But the 1:43s work well IMHO.

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@RJ I posted:

My suggestion is to go to your local drug store (CVS, Walgreens, etc)., an art supply store like Michaels, or even a store like Target or Walmart. They always have a small stack of diecast vehicles in a corner somewhere. Although they will not all be 1/43, 1/48, 1/50 scale, I can usually find one or two. For over a year every time I could go into one of those stores I would pick one up for $6 and by the end, I had enough vehicles for my entire layout.

A few years ago Walgreens replaced all the Rite Aid stores in my area and Rite Aid had a huge sale since Walgreens  wasn't using any of the Rite Aid inventory.   The rack of 42 cars (yup I counted them) was reduced to 50% off.  Most were 1:32 scale but there was about 10 that were 1:43.  Well after two weeks there were still 42 cars on the rack.  i found the store manager and ask what happens to the inventory when the store finally closes.  He said that most of it will go to other stores but the remaining inventory will probably end up in Lot type stores. For the heck of it I offered him $25.00 for the whole rack of cars.  He said SOLD but you have to take the display rack with them.  Well I kept the 1:43 cars and sold the rest of the cars along with the display rack to a flea market jobber for $100.00 . 

On Diecast Direct, check the "Sale" items - many good buys there.

Try 3000 toys as well.

Stay away from the two (2) Classic Metal Works beverage trucks posted above - the website may be ok for diecast vehicles, but those two models, although listed as O scale, are definitely in the 1/64 scale area.

Finally, and I'm not sure how others feel about this and will probably get some push-back, but IMHO, the primary focus of a model train layout should be the trains, rolling stock, trackage, etc. and, like most other accessories, diecast cars and trucks should enhance, but not be the primary focus of a train layout. Accordingly, I rarely pay a lot for them.

Richie C, I don’t think any of the folks posting on this thread think autos should be the “primary focus of a model train layout”, just another facet of creating a realistic scene along with buildings, people, trees, shrubs, etc.  I’m a car guy as well as a train guy, so having the right cars is very important to me.  My layout is set in the end of the steam to diesel, era, 1956, so all most of my autos are 1956 or older.

Buying cheap cars doesn’t mean you can’t have realistic cars.  Some cheap cars have body colored door handles or other “ chrome” trim you can accent with silver paint.  Some have all “chrome” taillights”; you can simulate a taillight with a dab of red paint.  An old pickup might have a simulated wood bed in the body color that you you can highlight with “ wood” color paint.  Or you could paint the interior in a complimentary color.  Take a look at your vehicles and imagine how they could look more realistic.  I think I paid $6.99 for this Corvette (but I confess it’s a ‘57).

John

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Thank you for your comment Richie. I agree with you, I am a car guy too, and I am trying to build a small town that has cool businesses along with really cool looking vintage cars from the 40s thru the 70s. I really love the old classic cars from back then, and I really like the looks of the Corvette you sent the pics of. My point is that most of the really great looking vintage cars and trucks from these decades cost an arm and a leg to purchase in o scale. There are tons of GMs, Fords, & Chryslers that I have seen in the o scale size that are priced way out of the ball park. If I were building an HO layout, I could have tons of these vintage cars at a very low cost. My argument is that it can't cost any more to make an o scale vehicle than it does to make one in the HO scale. I don't see any way that the manufacturers can justify charging $50 to $100 or more for a die cast vehicle, when they can make the same model in Ho or N scale and charge $20 or less.

Haawk58,

    Go visit your local Train Club. I belong to the Black Diamond Society of Model Engineers in Bethlehem Pa. We have a company store that sells used model trains and stuff that were either bought as collections or donated to the club. HO cars usually were no higher than $2 or $3, O gauge were anywhere from $5 to $10. Many with no boxes were lower priced. In fact we used to give away a free car to kids when they came into the club. I have not been at the club for a few years after moving to Maryland (still a member though) but am a member of Delaware Seaside RR club and we do the same thing. If you are buying a load of cars make a offer too.......I bet the club takes it.

     Forget retail purchases train clubs are the source.

JohnB

I think I have some news that you will enjoy!

In the Soviet Union, they copied many US car models. Not surprisingly, there are many 1:43 scale cars that are made in the ex-Soviet Bloc. Nice models can be picked up on da'bay for ~$8-20. The only issue is that most come from the Ukraine and Russia, so don't expect fast shipping. I would suggest buying in bulk.

I have a few on my layout and they look perfect in my 1920s-1960s setting

Bryce

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Steam Crazy - I agree that there ae some great cars out there that don't necessarily cost a lot and have lots of detail like opening doors, hood, antennas, etc. - you just have to spend some time tracking them down.  I try to model the '50's to '60's so virtually all of my models are pre-1970. Here's another 'Vette.

Haawke58 - I can't explain either why the cost of 1:43 cars jumps by factors as compared to 1:64 scale. I probably have 50 cars on my layout and I'd say 90% cost less than $10 and none over $20, so they are out there. 

'VETTE 1'VETTE 2

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The more affordable 1/43 cars are mass produced, low on specific details, popular makes & models, and often available label in many non-prototypical paint colors.  Road Champs, Ertl, Matchbox, & K-Line cars are examples.

The more expensive 1/43 cars are limited production, loaded with specific details, often less popular makes & models, and usually only available in prototypical factory OEM paint colors.  These are primarily targeted at the car collector market (whose members aren't spending any $ on locomotives).  Corgi, Brookline, & Eastwood are examples.  

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