10 Best Model Car Kits: From Beginner to Advanced Kits

A father and son examining the pieces in a model car kit.

If I had my way, I’d dedicate at least one entire room in my house to building and displaying model cars. My family, however, vetoes my vote every time.

I love them – the cars I mean (the fam too of course!).

From older vintage models to sleek, racy new models, you name it, I’ll build it and proudly display it. 

Because my wife doesn’t agree that every available surface needs to become a showcase for my cars, I’ve learned to be a bit more selective and only work on the models worthy of my limited space.

In the following, I’ll share some of my favorite models to build so that you will not waste time and money building something that’s destined to be stashed in a closet.

A small note before we get started: these kits do not include the tools needed to put the model cars together, and you’ll need to supply your own paint.

Head over to my Tool and Supply List for Models to see the basics.

Need to make a fast decision?

I would definitely go with either the Revell Ford Bronco or the Tamiya Toyota Supra.

They’re both by older companies known for quality, the detail is outstanding, and they’ll be just challenging enough without being overwhelming.

The Best Model Car Kits

Advanced Kit: Ford Bronco Plastic Model Kit

Revell 85-4320 Ford Bronco Truck Kit 1:25 Scale...

Check Price on Amazon

Building this classic Ford Bronco model by Revell will take some work since the kit comes with 137 pieces, but the detail on this model is absolutely amazing

Is it worth the painstaking work?

Most definitely, especially if you enjoy wowing your friends with an incredibly accurate, realistic model, and who doesn’t?

The pieces are molded in white and clear with some chrome-plated parts so you can truly customize the model.

Although this is an advanced model, the instructions are easy to follow.

On average, it takes about 20 hours to put together since the model matches the original car so well.

I recommend gently sanding and priming the completed model before you paint so the paint will stick better to the vehicle. 


  • You can build the motor as either a 289 or 302 ci (cubic inches).
  • Works well with acrylic paint.
  • Accurate to the original car.
  • Requires little priming before painting.
  • Strong and durable parts.


  • Some kits might accidentally miss a few parts.

Beginner/Intermediate: TAMIYA 1/24 Toyota Supra Model Kit

Tamiya 24123 1/24 Scale Sports Car Series Toyota...

Check Price on Amazon

If you’re going to put together a model Toyota Supra, you want it as detailed as possible and accurate to the original.

This model delivers on both points and is made by one of the most highly regarded companies in the model world.

Most builders can assemble the model in around five hours, though more practiced builders could build it in an hour.

Some people might find it weird that the wheels themselves move but not the steering wheel.

Luckily, since the model is easy to put together and paint, that should not be a big deal.

That said, some parts are quite small for larger hands, so you might need tweezers to put smaller bits into place.


  • It takes only a few hours to build.
  • You can build the car as either right or left-hand drive.
  • True to the original vehicle.
  • Ships fast.
  • Easy to paint with spray paint.


  • Some pieces are so small you’ll need tweezers for handling.

Good for Anyone: Tamiya 1/24 Ford Mustang GT4

Tamiya 24354 Ford 1/24 Mustang GT4

Check Price on Amazon

This Ford Mustang is another really cool model from Tamiya – not too difficult to build, but it’s still a lot of fun. 

It may not come with a ton of engine detail, and the doors and hood do not open, BUT this car will look stunning displayed on your shelf or in a fancy display box.

The instructions are detailed but still easy to understand. Most people will be able to put this model together quickly and easily.


  • Easy-to-understand directions.
  • Creates a beautiful model.
  • No tweezers necessary for handling smaller parts.
  • Easy to paint.
  • Not too many pieces to handle.


  • It doesn’t have a lot of decorative decals.

Metal Model Car Kits

Metal model car kits are on a whole other level than standard model car kits.

Rather than having parts made from plastic, metal model cars have metal parts diecast in molds.

You also don’t have to use glue or paint, making them suitable for kids, beginners, collectors, and more.

Maisto 1:24 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Maisto 1:24 Scale Assembly Line 2012 Ford Mustang...

Check Price on Amazon

For a beginner car model builder, the Maisto Ford Mustang Boss model comes with everything you need to build it, including a screwdriver.

Plus, the hood and doors open and close, and all the wheels turn just like a real car’s do. 

The only regrettable aspect is that it only comes in red, but with a little effort, you could repaint it any color you like.

Some advanced builders might find it too easy to assemble since most people take under an hour to put it together.


  • It comes with everything you need for assembly.
  • Easy for a young child or family to assemble.
  • High-quality diecast materials.
  • No painting or gluing necessary for assembly.
  • The doors can open, and the wheels can turn.


  • It only comes in red.
  • It might be too easy for some people.

Maisto 1/24 1957 Chevrolet Corvette

Maisto 1:24 Scale 1957 Chevrolet Corvette Diecast...

Check Price on Amazon

The Maisto Chevrolet Corvette strikes a good balance between the best model car kit and a toy car.

Although most of the vehicle comes from diecast metal parts, the kit also includes some plastic parts.

The colors are vibrant, and the diecast parts give the car a nice weight.

In a strange twist, the color car you get might not be the same as pictured. A few extra rubber strings might be attached to the tires as well.

Nonetheless, the model is accurate to the original car and will look gorgeous prominently displayed.


  • Diecast metal parts give the car weight.
  • True to the original car model.
  • Doors and hood open.
  • Colors are vibrant and bright.
  • Easy to assemble.


  • You cannot select what color car you will receive.

Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 1/24 Scale Kit

Maisto 1:24 Scale Assembly Line Lamborghini...

Check Price on Amazon

For people who want to add some class to their model car collections, the Lamborghini Gallardo model car is a must-have.

This model is easy to build, and a diecast metal model car might be a welcome change of pace for children who like LEGO projects.

Plus, the vehicle is durable enough that it might withstand a little gentle playtime.

However, since the car is metal, it’s not going to be the easiest to customize or repaint.


  • Highly durable metal and plastic parts.
  • Easy for children to assemble.
  • Assembly does not take too long.
  • Wheels turn and doors open.
  • Ships fast.


  • Not the easiest model to customize.

Large Model Car Kits

So far, we’ve covered smaller model cars that you could keep on your dashboard.

Large model cars might need a display case or a larger surface but are no less entertaining to put together.

The attention to detail is still the same, and you’ll be able to enjoy them at a closer range.

1979 Pontiac Firebird 1:16 Scale Model Kit

C.P.M. MPC MPC862 1:16 1979 10th Anniversary...

Check Price on Amazon

A larger model car will require extra work, and you’ll certainly get that with the 1979 Pontiac Firebird, so this is a fantastic option if you like to be challenged.

While all the parts come with the kit, you might have to shave, file, and drill through specific components to make everything fit.

Nonetheless, the pieces are all strong and make assembly easier. For extra fun, the front wheels are steerable.


  • All needed parts for assembly are in the kit.
  • The wheels turn, and the steering wheel works.
  • Fun colors.
  • Fun for most skill sets to assemble..
  • Large scale is lovely to look at.


  • Instructions did not include color coding for some parts.

1955 Chevy Bel Air Convertible 1:16 Scale Model Kit

AMT 1/16 1955 Chevy Bel Air Convertible AMT1134...

Check Price on Amazon

The parts are all there to build the 1955 Chevy Bel Air, but you might have to shave a few pieces, so they fit better.

Luckily, the fact that the car is a little larger should make such a challenge doable.

The instructions don’t include many illustrations, so they might be more challenging to follow.

Still, the parts are durable and high quality, so they should hold up to whatever challenges you may run into.


  • Great for builders who prefer a challenge.
  • Durable parts.
  • Fun colors.
  • Long-running construction time.
  • An expanded decal sheet allows for more customization.


  • Instructions are a little hard to follow.

1955 Chevy Nomad Wagon 1:16 Scale Model Kit

AMT AMT1005 1: 16 1955 Chevy Nomad Wagon

Check Price on Amazon

This kit for making a model Chevy Nomad Wagon is pretty detailed already, but it also comes with options for making a street-smart custom version.

As with all well-made large car models, the wheels turn, and the doors and hood can open.

However, some parts are a little delicate, so you should handle them with care. You’ll need to do some extra work to make sure the pieces fit well together.


  • Greater customization possibilities than other models.
  • Challenging extra work for more experienced builders.
  • 100% plastic parts.
  • Easy-to-follow instructions.
  • All doors open and wheels turn.


  • Some parts need gentle handling.

1957 Ford Thunderbird 2T 1:16th Scale Model Kit

AMT - 1957 Thunderbird 2T, 1:16 (AMT1206)

Check Price on Amazon

You can build the 1957 Ford Thunderbird model as either a stock or custom car, and use the expanded decal sheet and whitewall or wide rally tires for extra customization. 

The doors open, and the wheels turn, so the car might work okay for occasional playtime.

The chrome plastic parts and vinyl tires and hoses look lovely, making the car look more realistic.

Plus, the plastic makeup allows you to play more with colors and decals, and even the packaging has a nice retro feel.


  • Plastic parts hold up well.
  • It can serve as a gently-handled plaything.
  • Realistic looking.
  • Plastic is easily painted.
  • Pieces fit well without a lot of filing or shaving.


  • Some kits might accidentally miss parts.

Related Questions:

What Are Diecast Models?

Diecast car models have metal parts created in custom molds for each car.

Molten lead or zinc alloy and small amounts of aluminum or copper are poured into a mold to form a particular shape.

Do I Need to Paint Model Car Kits?

Not necessarily. Most model car kits have white plastic parts that you can sand, prime, and then paint. Others come already painted.

Diecast models have metal parts and will need to be primed for painting if they arrive as bare metal.

You have a choice whether you paint either model, but it’s always a good idea to have paint on hand for extra decoration.


You really can’t go wrong with any of the above models, but for those just getting started with the hobby, I’d say begin with the Revell Ford Bronco or the Tamiya Toyota Supra.

The quality is pretty much guaranteed as they’re both made by companies with a superior reputation, the challenge is enough to develop skills and hold your interest, and well, they’re really cool looking when finished.

After you’ve gained some confidence and increased your skill set, move on to one of the metal model kits or up the ante with a large scale model.

The 1979 Pontiac Firebird is a work of art when completed, and the whole family might even agree that it is worthy of being displayed in a prominent location… say the dining room table perhaps?



Last update on 2024-05-28 at 03:48 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print


I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!