The history of Sinclair's Mini-Auto goes back almost 40 years, long before the "mints" started selling scale model cars. As a matter of fact Dave Sinclair started the whole industry. His was the first company to sell miniature auto collector items by mail. In the mid-Sixties Dave Sinclair was Advertising & Sales Promotion Manager for a corporation in Rochester, New York. He had long been fascinated with the mail order business and operated a tiny sideline business selling miscellaneous imported novelties. One of them happened to be an early Rolls Royce that was silver-plated and mounted on a black porcelain ashtray. He began getting letters stating "I loved that little car! What other little cars do you have? Preferably without ash trays attached". Eureka! That would be his specialty.
In those days the only miniature cars you could buy in department store toy sections were Matchbox, Dinky, and Corgi. All die cast in England and aimed more at the kid's market than to adult collectors. Dave reasoned that there must be miniature cars made in other countries besides England and after much travel and correspondence he found 1:43 die cast in Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, and other countries that seemed actually to be made realistic enough to be adult collector items. He began to import them and for a few years was the exclusive dealer in the U.S.A.
The only problem was that those die cast firms made primarily miniatures of European cars. He could get lots of Fiats, Alfa Romeo, VW, Mercedes, etc. but the die casters made only a rare Corvette or Ford Model T. While collectors liked some of the exotic imports they eventually longed for some American car models and sales began to slow down. To keep the business afloat Dave diversified. He sold hundreds of larger 1:8 scale Kits of Alfa Romeo, Mercedes and Rolls Royce. He even imported ½ scale Ford GT 40s and Ferraris with gas engines from France and a wonderful ½ scale battery powered Bentley that had adjustable pedals so father or son could drive it. You see Dave driving it himself in the photo on this page. These three ½ scale models sold for $999 each in the late Sixties and early Seventies.
Then some enthusiasts in England, primarily, found they could hand mold 1:43 cars from white metal. At first they offered them in kit form, which sold well in Europe but few Americans had the time or patience to build them. When firms such as Western in England and Brooklin in Canada started offering these models of American cars ready built; sales began to boom even though the prices were considerably higher than the kits were. Dies to make die cast models are very expensive, averaging about $200,000.00 today. So die casters are limited as to how many different ones they can make and they must limit themselves to those that will have a wide sales appeal.
They can't risk that kind of money on obscure marques such as Hupmobiles and Bantams. Since the white metal modelers make only an average of 250 pieces they can afford to make limited interest cars as well as unlimited numbers of different Cadillac's or Chevy's whereas the die casters might only be able to afford to make a few different years. Sinclair's Auto Miniatures Inc. (Mini-Auto) specializes today in handmade 1:43 scale autos although they do carry some 1:24, 1:18, and other scales and some outstanding die cast models. While die cast models are widely available Mini-Auto is one of very few dealers in handmade models and carries more handmade lines by far than anyone in the business.
Dave recently passed away in 2012, but we remain strong in his mission. Our mission is simple: to provide the best products and service to our customers at the lowest prices possible. We take great pride in our company, our commitment to customer service and in the products we sell. Our online store is designed to provide you with a safe and secure environment to browse our product catalog.