Before The Merger - Ertl's Pre-RC Toy Cars

Posted by: Doug in Member Blogs

Part 1 - American Models by Doug Breithaupt, images by Doug Breithaupt and Craig Mueller, this article was initially published in March 2004.

Few existing diecast companies can trace their origins back as far as Ertl.  In the mid-1940's, Fred Ertl Sr. founded the company in Dyersville, Iowa.

1951 Chevrolet Sedan

The original products were models of farm machinery. Since that time, Ertl has made a wide variety of vehicles in almost every scale from 1:64 to 1:18. Most recently, Ertl was purchased and merged with Racing Champions to become RC/Ertl or RC2. Under the RC umbrella, Ertl has done a nice selection of detailed 1:64 scale models; but for this story we are moving back before the RC merger to look at the variety of 1:64 scale models that carried the Ertl name in the 1970's and 1980's.

Best known for their many models relating to movies and TV, Ertl established a reputation for quality and realistic castings. While many remember the 'General Lee' Dodge Charger from the TV show 'Dukes of Hazzard' as the best know Ertl model, it was just one of many offered over two decades. Individual blisters and multi-car sets were available. Many models featured opening doors or engine compartments. The wheels and suspension were not as strong as Hot Wheels or Matchbox and did not stand up to heavy play. Many promotional models were produced for companies like Chuck E. Cheese Pizza and Bell Telephone. For many years, Ertl was the only company to offer cars like the 1950 Mercury or 1961 Corvette. Even today, the 1951 Chevy and Manta kit car are unique models.

The first part of the Ertl story will look at American cars and in next installment we will review models representing the rest of the world. Today, Ertl is re-releasing some of their early models. The 'Dukes of Hazzard' cars were offered again although some of the models were re-cast, no doubt due to the wear of the original tools. The Manta kit car first appeared as the 'Coyote' from the TV show 'Hardcastle and McCormick'. It has been re-released in stock and racing versions. It is great to see some of these castings being used again. Some Ertl models of American vehicles are missing from those shown below. if you have an image of a missing model, send it on.



1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible

1974 Chevrolet Camaro (Chuck E. Cheese)

1980 Chevrolet Caprice

1984 Chevrolet Corvette

1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

1988 Pontiac Fiero

Chevrolet Citation (BellTelephone)

Chevrolet Van

1980 Chevrolet Caprice stocker (Waltrip)

1955 Chevrolet Nomad

1961 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster (Riptide)

1979 Chevrolet Corvette (Speed Strips)

1983 Chevrolet Camaro

1991 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 (Speed Strips)

1985 Pontiac Firebird

1980 Buick Regal stocker

Chevrolet Stepside pick-up (Bell Telephone)

Chevrolet Chevette (Dominos Pizza)

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air hardtop

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

1980 Chevrolet Caprice stocker (Petty)

1980 Chevrolet Caprice stocker (Cannonball)

1983 Chevrolet Camaro (Simon & Simon)

1969 Cadillac de Ville Convertible (Dukes of Hazzard)

1980 Pontiac Bonneville police (Dukes of Hazzard)

1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo stocker

Ford Van (Bell Telephone)

1939 Chevrolet Sedan (Dick Tracy)


1932 Ford Coupe

1956 Ford Crown Victoria

1964 1/2 Ford Mustang

1982 Ford EXP

Ford Model T hot rod

1940 Ford

1981 Ford Thunderbird stocker

1936 Ford (Dick Tracy)

1957 Ford Thunderbird

1971 Ford Mustang

Ford Bronco Pick-up

Ford Model A hot rod

1913 Ford

1937 Ford Sedan (Dick Tracy)

1950 Ford Convertible

Ford GT Mk. IV

1979 Ford Mustang

1950 Mercury

Ford Hot Rod

1991 Ford Taurus police (Speed Strips)


1969 Dodge Charger (Dukes of Hazzard)

Manta kit car

Batmobile (Batman Returns)

1937 Plymouth (Dick Tracy)

International Scout

Bluesmobile Dodge Monaco police

Jeep CJ ((Dukes of Hazzard))

Cord (Batman)

Excalibur (Matt Houston)

Tags: Vehicles, Tales of Toy Cars

Baskingshark on March 06, 2009

These are great

I love these ERTLS - the earlier ones with the metal baseplates can also be found under the Lintoy brand, with that name on the baseplates. Also, most of the ones with opening parts can be found with or without these. IMO, the hardest ones to find are the 80's Dodge Shelby Charger and the non-Rocky ordinary road-car version of the Maserati Quattroporte. I've only ever seen one Charger and I've NEVER seen the Quattroporte! Another interesting thing is that the Porsche 911 Targa has jewelled headlights, which is pretty much unheard of on any toy car made after the mid-70s.
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