Volume VII, Number 3

Before the merger - Ertl's pre-RC toy cars
Part 1 - American Models
by Doug Breithaupt
, images by Doug Breithaupt and Craig Mueller

Few existing diecast companies can trace their origins back as far as Ertl. Fred Ertl Sr. was the founder in the mid-1940's in Dyersville, Iowa. 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, a story told be TofTC recently (click here). 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, 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 next month 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 dies. 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.


1951 Chevrolet Sedan #1630

1955 Chevrolet Nomad #1632

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air hardtop #1636

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible #1614

1961 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster (Riptide)

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray #1617

1974 Chevrolet Camaro (Chuck E. Cheese)

1979 Chevrolet Corvette (Speed Strips)

1980 Chevrolet Caprice stocker (Cannonball)

1980 Chevrolet Caprice

1983 Chevrolet Camaro

1983 Chevrolet Camaro (Simon & Simon)

1984 Chevrolet Corvette

1991 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 (Speed Strips)

1969 Cadillac de Ville Convertible (Dukes of Hazzard)

1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am #1618

1985 Pontiac Firebird

1980 Pontiac Bonneville police (Dukes of Hazzard)

1988 Pontiac Fiero

1980 Buick Regal stocker

1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo stocker

Chevrolet Citation (Bell Telephone)

Chevrolet Stepside pick-up (Bell Telephone)

Ford Van (Bell Telephone)

Chevrolet Van

Chevrolet Chevette (Dominos Pizza)

1939 Chevrolet Sedan (Dick Tracy)

1980 Chevrolet Caprice stocker (Waltrip) #1598

1980 Chevrolet Caprice stocker (Petty) #1599


1932 Ford Coupe #1613

1936 Ford (Dick Tracy)

1950 Ford Convertible #1631

1956 Ford Crown Victoria #1633

1957 Ford Thunderbird #1615

Ford GT Mk. IV #1602

1964 1/2 Ford Mustang

1971 Ford Mustang #1616

1979 Ford Mustang

1982 Ford EXP

Ford Bronco Pick-up

1950 Mercury #1629

Ford Model 'T' hot rod

Ford Model 'A' hot rod

Ford hot rod

1940 Ford

1913 Ford

1981 Ford Thunderbird stocker (Six Pack)

1937 Ford Sedan (Dick Tracy)

1991 Ford Taurus police (Speed Strips)


1969 Dodge Charger (Dukes of Hazzard) #1581

1937 Plymouth (Dick Tracy)

Jeep CJ ((Dukes of Hazzard)) #1766

Manta kit car

International Scout #1752

Cord (Batman)

Batmobile (Batman Returns)

'Bluesmobile' Dodge Monaco police #1580

Excalibur (Matt Houston)