The 1960s and 1970s saw the first RC cars made commercially available, but it wasn’t until the 1980’s that these radio-controlled models started to get more popular. One of the first companies to sell RC car kits that were easy to assemble was Tamiya – a well-known Japanese manufacturer, also famous for their plastic model kits. The company released its first RC car in 1976, which proved very popular with over 100.000 cars sold in the first year alone. Tamiya could see that there was a demand and a market for such cars, and more Tamiya RC car releases quickly followed. The popularity of Tamiya’s RC cars is high even to this day, with the manufacturer still releasing tens of new cars annually.
Tamiya’s popularity reached new levels in the ’80s, with their cars gathering a cult following. Those who were kids in the ’80s are now at an age where they have money to spend on hobbies, which together with the opportunity to re-live their youth through these cars, has meant that there is now a strong market for vintage Tamiya RC car kits.
As the world discovered marketplaces like Ebay, these enthusiasts realised that it was still possible to find some of the classic Tamiya models. Even better, if you were really lucky you could even find brand new kits in unopened boxes! With the famous Tamiya models still highly sought after, and the limited amount on offer, prices naturally quickly started to rise.
Tamiya themselves of course saw an opportunity here and started a series of re-releases in the early 2000s. This of course affected the vintage market, but since all Tamiya remake kits have small differences when compared to the original kit, the original car’s value has remained for the most part.
Here we look at 10 of the most famous vintage Tamiya RC cars, in chronological order:
1. Tamiya RC Cars: Porsche 934 Turbo RSR
– The first Tamiya RC car from 1976, and hence very valuable. Even more as the very rare special Black version, which is known to have been auctioned for sums up to $10.000!
2. Tamiya RC Cars: Rough Rider
– The Rough Rider is the first car on the SRB chassis, which is one of the most iconic from Tamiya. Original cars in good conditions sell for over $500.
3. Tamiya RC Cars Sand Scorcher
– Could be the most famous RC model ever. Built on the same SRB chassis as the Rough Rider, with similar prices.
4. Tamiya RC Cars: Toyota 4×4 Pick Up
– Super realistic body and entire chassis of metal. Vintage cars in good condition sell for over $1000.
5. Tamiya RC Cars: Wild Willy
– An iconic “stunt vehicle” from Tamiya, again with prices that can go well over $1000.
6. Tamiya RC Cars: Subaru Brat
– Another famous Tamiya model, the first one to use the ORV (Off Road Vehicle) chassis. Slightly lower prices at around $300.
7. Tamiya: The Frog
– Another car on the ORV chassis, featuring the legendary “No Guts, No Glory” rear wing sticker. Prices between $300-500.
8. Tamiya: Hotshot 4WD
– A unique looking car which was also Tamiya’s first 4WD buggy. The very earliest versions are the most valuable.
9. Tamiya: Lunch Box
– Iconic release from 1987. One of the more affordable vintage kits, possibly due to several re-releases.
10. Tamiya: Avante
– The legendary 4WD buggy that was the ultimate dream for many kids in the late 80’s! Still sells for prices upwards of $18500 today.