Collectors can amass some pretty interesting items, and car collectibles often fall under that category. If it once had something to do with a car, it could very well be a valuable part of a collection somewhere near you right now.
1. Vintage Oil Cans
Some collectors focus their work on vintage oil cans. Those who are interested in these vintage tins tend to have quite a few of them and prize them for their shapes and logos. Early oil cans were square and metal, but these changed to round styles, which remained popular until the 1940s.
World War II’s metal shortage meant oil companies had to get creative and they began to use cardboard cans with metal tops and bottoms. These were often referred to as paper quarts and were used up until the 1960s when plastic cans were introduced.
2. License Plates
According to ALPCA, the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association, most collectors focus on license plates that are close to their heart, as there are too many types to try to collect them all. Very old and very new plates tend to be the most valuable. Some of the earliest plates are made of porcelain while “flats” were simply flat pieces of metal with numbers painted on them. It wasn’t until the 1920s that embossed plates became readily available. Collectors tend to try to get a “run” of plates, that is, all the plates from 1 year or 1 for every year from 1 state. These collections can also be quite valuable, depending on the condition of the license plates.
3. Tether Cars
Spindizzies, or tether cars, were particularly popular around World War II and have become valuable collection items for today’s memorabilia fans. These tiny racers were “tethered” to a central pole by a wire and had extremely powerful engines at the time. They would race at speeds of up to 150 mph around a specially built track that was either tilted or had grooves to keep the cars on it.
In the 1940s, 1 of these miniature cars could cost you close to the same amount as an actual car; today, they can be worth thousands of dollars in many cases. Thanks to manufacturers limiting their runs to less than 1,000, there aren’t many of these little vehicles left, which makes them worth even more.
4. Road Maps
The Road Map Collector’s Association has plenty of information for collectors of road maps. Those not in the world of collectors might imagine that this is a fairly simple collection, but the truth is that there are many different types of maps including state-specific maps, auto association maps, and specific oil-company maps. Maps with particularly interesting artwork are also highly collectible, particularly Montana maps from the ’30s and ’40s with artistic covers by Irvin Shope. There are plenty of these to collect, and older maps can be more difficult to find than newer ones, making it a challenge to find everything for a specific run.
5. Street Signs
While most people are familiar with the teenage antic of stealing street signs, there are actually some very serious sign collectors out there. In 2010, a porcelain Wall Street sign dating back to the 1920s sold at a Christie’s auction for $116,500, showing just how serious this type of collecting can get.
According to My Crazy Hobby, a personal site about street sign collecting, it’s possible to find these signs legally. They can be found for sale at auctions like Christie’s, of course, or in flea markets, antique stores, and even on eBay, making it completely legal to own a collection of signs.
Collecting cars may make sense, but for some collectors, the actual car is not what is desired. Instead, a piece of car memorabilia or an interesting car-related item becomes the obsession, fueling many hours of searching for just the right pieces to fill out the collection. From license plates to oil cans, there are dozens of interesting pieces for collectors to focus on, and those who are serious about it can find plenty to collect.