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If you’re a car fanatic and you enjoy building things, chances are you’re also an avid model car kit hobbyist—or want to try your hand at the DIY craft. The cooler months are the perfect time to dive in as one model kit can span an entire cozy weekend indoors, no matter your level of expertise. Whether you’re into classics like the 1960s Ford Mustang or you want to build a miniature of the Ferrari 488 GTE, chances are there’s a kit to build a car you love.
Another nice plus is that model kits are relatively inexpensive, starting at about $20. There are pricier options on the market, too, including plenty from Lego,that come with 1,000-plus pieces and cost upwards of $100. Here’s a guide to get you building, crafting, and tinkering.
The Best Model Car Kits
Best Chevy Impala Car Model Kit: AMT 1967 Chevy Impala Model Car Kit
Best Lamborghini Car Model Kit: Maisto Lamborghini Aventador Roadster Model Car Kit
Best Ford GT Car Model Kit: Tamiya 2015 Ford GT Model Car Kit
Best Dodge Challenger Car Model Kit: Revell 1970s Dodge Challenger 2-in-1 Model Car Kit
Best Chevy Camaro Car Model Kit: Lego Chevrolet Camaro Z28
What to Consider
Glue and Paint
If you’re a model kit newbie or looking to gift a model car, you can buy a die-cast kit with painted metal parts ready to assemble, or a plastic molded car that needs glue and paint.
If you enjoy tinkering and following directions to assemble things, a die-cast kit is the way to go. If you’re artistically inclined and skilled at detailed work with paint and decals, challenge yourself with a plastic molded kit. (I, unwisely, use my fingers to cut out plastic parts from die-cast kits. Don’t do that. They’ll break. Grab a pair of tweezers to pop out pieces instead.)
For kits that don’t come with supplies, make sure you purchase model-specific paints as they dry thinner than the type you’d put on a wall or a canvas. Vallejo makes great beginner-friendly model kit paints and Revell has affordable model kit paint brushes. For glue, something with a fine tip applicator is best. Tamiya makes a solid one.
You can also buy Lego building kits for adults and teens alike, which omit the need for glue or paint. Expect to shell out at least $100 if it’s car-specific—all car builds come from the pricier, more mature-leaning Lego Icons series.
Most retailers provide each kit’s complexity in a level or an age range, and some also list an estimated completion time. Most model kits are suitable for teens and up, but some children may be able to assemble tougher kits with adult supervision. Detail-oriented kits that require painting generally take the longest.
You should also take a look at the scale to see how big the finished product is—it’s listed in a ratio format that expresses the model’s size in relation to the real car it replicates. For parents, it’s a good idea to look at how small the pieces are to see if the project will be satisfying or frustrating for your little one.
How We Selected
Our selection includes die-cast and model car kits from reputable brands known for turning out high-quality products, such as AMT, Revell, and Tamiya, plus a few from Lego. These model car kids span all experience levels, from beginner to expert, and multiple price points. I've been toying with Gundam and Pokemon model kits for the last year or so, cutting and pushing plastic out of molds to piece together for display, so I know what goes into a high-quality kit. We used a combination of in-house expertise, research, buying guides from model kit and hobbyist publications, and user reviews to find the best model car kits.
1967 Chevy Impala Model Car Kit
The 1967 Chevy Impala features Coke-bottle styling, with flared fenders and a narrow center. This model car kit captures every curve of the vintage muscle car and includes more than 100 parts, with chrome rims, rally wheels, a detailed interior and chassis, plus a 427-cubic-inch V8 engine. It also comes with a full-color decal sheet.
While most reviewers love this model kit, some say pieces are so thin that they are easily breakable. Still, with a gentle hand, this should be a simple build for older teens and adults.
Lamborghini Aventador Roadster Model Car Kit
This model car kit is an excellent choice for first-time builders, as there are only 24 pieces, and there’s no glue or paint required to finish the job.
All of the Lamborghini’s die-cast metal parts come painted and easily snap together or attach using an included tool. The end result is impressive and realistic—the doors open, and there’s a working steering wheel.
A few reviewers describe the instructions as hard to understand, but the majority say the kit is easy enough for kids, with one claiming their 8-year-old assembled it with no problem.
2015 Ford GT Model Car Kit
In 1966, the first model of this car—the GT40 Mk II—famously beat Ferrari’s 330 P3 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. (If you want the full story of the saga, check out the fictionalized version in Ford v Ferrari, starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon.)
Fast forward several decades to this slick car, unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. Tamiya’s model car kit does a stellar job replicating the 2015 Ford GT—this set doesn’t even skip the underside design.
There are also buttresses, door-side air tunnels, and head and tail lights with multiple pieces. Plus, it comes with a metal-plated wheel, an oil tank, and a complete set of decals, including optional racing stripes.
1970s Dodge Challenger 2-in-1 Model Car Kit
Fun fact: The 1970 Dodge Challenger was the company’s first pony car—stylish, compact, and affordable. This two-in-one model kit allows you to build the factory stock version or the street machine (with dual four-barrel high-rise intake).
It features chrome-plated parts, including rims and bumpers, black vinyl tires, and a realistic detailed interior. The kit is for intermediate to experienced model car builders and comes with decals, but glue and paint is sold separately.
Many users say the part fit is excellent and more experienced builders will have a blast, though it’s not best for younger children.
Chevrolet Camaro Z28
This Chevy Camaro Z28 from the Lego Icons series is an excellent build for adults. It’s made of over 1,400 pieces and comes with a set of racing stripes so you can customize the appearance of your car with grey, white, or red accents. You can also choose which headlights the Camaro has.
Several users say this is one of their favorite Lego builds due to its extensive detail and fun, lengthy build process. One notes the interior of the car as a standout, with small details like an open comic book in the backseat and rear view mirror ornaments.
1968 Volkswagen Beetle Model Car Kit
Volkswagon ended the Beetle’s production in 2019—more than 23 million cars were sold worldwide during its 70-plus-year run. But of all bugs that came off the assembly line, the 1968 Beetle is perhaps the most iconic.
This 1:24-scale model kit features a steering wheel that can be built on the left or right side, an opening front hood, and a detailed 1500-cc-rear-mounted engine. Chrome plates, black tires, waterslide decals, and a painting guide also come with it. Keep in mind that this kit requires model glue, though, sold separately.
Users love the model’s clean fitting parts, but some note it may be too challenging for its suggested age of 12 or older.
Ferrari 488 GTE Model Car Kit
Lego’s take on the iconic Ferrari 488 GTE has a ton of authentic features, including original race stickers and paint colors, a V8 engine with moving pistons, and interior details that are incredibly accurate. There’s also a functional steering wheel and two doors that open, plus front and rear suspension.
The 1,677-piece set is for experienced Lego builders, and although its scale isn’t listed, the model car is quite large at 19 inches long.
1960s Ford Mustang Model Car Kit
Lego’s Ford Mustang model car kit has parts to customize your creation, including exhaust pipes, front chin and rear ducktail spoilers, and a nitrous oxide tank.
The mini 1960s muscle car has realistic details, such as white racing stripes and five-spoke rims, plus there’s a V8 engine, an air filter, hoses, and a battery under the front hood. The trunk and doors also open, and other highlights include a removable roof panel, a dashboard with radio, a gearshift on the console, and an operational steering wheel.
1965 Chevy Stepside Pickup Model Car Kit
We had to include at least one badass truck in our roundup. This ’65 Chevy Stepside pickup kit gives you the option to build either a factory or custom model using the included stock and graphic decals.
There’s also a 283 V8 engine with optional parts, including disc brakes, and chrome wheels with moon hubcaps to pair with whitewall tires or five-spoke mag wheels with low-profile tires.
The model car kit has illustrated instructions and is ideal for intermediate-level builders and confident beginners.