Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Motor Speedway of South – Future Value

Reader Matt asks about its future value … while there is no definitive answer, here are some things to keep in mind.

There’s not a lot of history to gauge, for some collectibles, there are some similar things like you can look at the Speed Racer Barbie and compare it to a “Fast & Furious” Barbie and sort of project its future worth and you also have a reasonable expectation of how others display, hide or protect their Barbies to retain their value.

With this set, there is not much to go by – first, there are not very many examples of “general interest” $300 sets of diecast available even limited to 1,000 pieces around … sure, there are $300 1:24 or 1:12 scale diecast CARS but 98% of collectors would shrug to name them … CARS, everyone knows but will people care 5 years or 10 years down the line? Yes, most likely – especially with the sequel coming out in 4 years but if every Piston Cup racer gets re-released, does that effectively negate its value to the racetrack & box … so MAYBE only a Mattel cardboard still sealed and NEVER opened retains the maximum value for this set? You could argue that – let’s say 100 never get opened and the Mattel box is mint and in 5-10 years, it’s worth X.

But what is that mythical X amount worth to you to just store, carry around and preserve a cardboard with something inside? (temperature controlled surroundings – like a closet instead of the garage, etc …) That’s something only you can answer – you just have to look at the prices of the sets selling for this first week – one person made approximately $50 return on buying & selling the set, another person made about $475 after costs … of course, your age, your income and your interest play a great part in valuing things – and of course, the return and effort is all relevant. You might list a magazine you see is selling for $20 because if you sell it, you can just drop it in an envelope to ship it but if you could make $20 selling an old ‘fridge, would you bother? For some people, it’s easy and fun to photograph an item to list for sale, for others – it’s tedium and work. Or look at baby boomers and muscle cars, 40 years ago, even though a muscle car was usually around $4k, scraping together that kind of cash was impossible but now, $60k to buy a driveable muscle car (not even a museum one), sure, why not – just as with this set, for most adults, they remember their college days – who had $300 dollars they could spend randomly then but now, it’s a bottle of wine for a special dinner … 6 hours later, what was that we drank?

So, let’s say a totally sealed box is worth $2k in 10 years, is it worth it to you to know you can have $2k in a 3 foot box? But because the set is so uncommon and Mattel never got around to releasing two of the CARS in any form (they got distracted by the 11,000 CARS in CARS2 🙂 ) maybe even the open ones are worth 90% or about $1,800 so is it worth $20 a year you’re “losing” to play with them? Or for those number crunchers, note – right now, your set is worth about $700 with minimal effort to sell and maybe $750 with a little more effort … so, even at $2k in 10 years, your appreciation is about $150 a year – not a bad return on $350 in 2008 but that’s if everything plays out accordingly. What if in 10 years, the set sells for $700? Then the appreciation has hit in 1 week and growth essentially went to ZERO for the next 9 years and 50 weeks – now, not such a good investment … things are impossible to predict. There are some toys – even recent ones that worth twice what the store sold them for and of course, there are dozens of examples of toys worth $10 and like a real car, depreciates to a few dollars (in CARS, someone paid over $150 for a Crusin’ McQueen on a SC card – now maybe $2?). Conversely, the Motor Speedway set would’ve returned 30% in TWO hours even before the RLC Club offer closed … worth it or not worth it to you to sell right then and there – there was a profit just waiting to be made.

And as I noted before, you might actually have more bidders for an open set because some people think – if I buy a sealed set, I won’t want to open it – defeating the purpose of buying it so they might be willing to pay nearly as much for a set you had fun with and that they have no excuse not to also play with … I sold off a bunch of redline Hot Wheels that were well played and loved – some even missing wheels but they did not sell for a lot less than ones in much better condition … presumably because they had no excuse not to swap out the wheels or repaint them. And to circle back – you never know – all those people who were eager for Roger Clemons to go into the Hall of Fame so all their memorabilia would be worth tons more … now, suddenly, that rookie card they paid $800 for? Now, not so much.

I think it comes down to this. Whatever happens happens. One reason why Hemi muscle cars are worth so much – a lot of people thought, why bother with a Hemi for a few hundred dollar more for just 20 or 30 more horses … now, worth several hundred thousand dollars more or people who bought DeLoreans because they thought they would be classics – very little actual appreciation – you never know – so just be true to yourself. Some things retain value in spite of everything and other things are pristine but no one cares. Because you can argue that spending $340 on a thing you store away is not the best way to spend $340 also, right? It’s all perspective – so as everything is all about the Star Wars … either stare at your kid and say, “these are not the CARS you’re looking for …” or the other thing 🙂

If you like to collect and keep them in cards, mint and in boxes – neatly organized – great. You do that. We might want to buy them from you someday. If you & your kids want to chip them and smash them – great, that’s what toys are for and in some way, you are contributing to the greater good of all collectors and you’ve take one more off the market as it were 🙂 … so there’s value and there’s value – there’s value in taking out your objects and appreciating their beauty or the value in play (whether with your kids or just yourself) … it’s one thing not to hang a Van Gogh in your 2-year old kid’s room 🙂 and another to not play with a mass produced item … and don’t get carried away in trying to determine appreciation and depreciation for everything. Because like the baby boomers who might be spending $60k to buy their childhood dream, if your net worth is now $1 million, what’s $60k … what are you saving it for? Same with this set, maybe it is worth $3k in 10 years but if filling a tank of gas is $300, big whoop, right? 🙂 and 😦

So, you do the voodoo you do and I will re-enact the great crash in the Piston Cup race – get out a grinder to all the CARS and smash up Mood Springs … make a diorama and sell it for $5k 🙂


Filed under Advertising, collecting, Film, Internet, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Media, Retail, Toys, TV

15 responses to “Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Motor Speedway of South – Future Value

  1. C. Manifold

    Yeah…….a diorama set! That would be awesome!

    It would have to include the long line from the ladies restroom…..just to be accurate.

  2. collectormom

    I just can’t see buying a set like this and never taking it out of the box; where’s the fun in that?!

    I think we all fall into 2 categories; those of us that opened the set and let our kids play with the Cars and those that display it under “lock & key”. (It’s on a shelf out of little Johnny’s peanut butter fingers reach). To spend this much money and never crack open the box is something a person would do if they maybe weren’t really a Cars fan but someone looking to make a buck in a few years (an investor). Or possibly able to buy 2 or more sets; I wish that was me! 🙂 I used to collect Barbie’s and got great enjoyment out of just looking at them in their box on the shelf. The difference? At least with a doll in box you could still see what you bought.

    And what effect would it have on a set if some of the Cars were not part of the original set? Suppose little Johnny lost Gasprin and you replaced it the MM version. Does that matter?

    Whatever it is it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay.

  3. jackdaddy2008

    Imagine 15 years from now, the day the SOS officially becomes vintage!

    Your at an auction or even entertaining a potential buyer in your home.

    You have been offered tens of thousands of dollars for your Cars Collection as long as it contains a true Ransburg and the piece de resistance – the SOS set.

    Your original 12 backs, factory set, complete supercharged, store exclusives, gift sets, play sets and Ransburg are in clear view for your buyer to see!

    You open the SOS for the first and only time for inspection…………………..

    The box is empty!


    even better, full of yellow ramones!

    For this reason, I will be opening my set to inspect, but I won’t be messing with anything.

  4. msully

    Yellow Ramones, aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!

    Well, one of my little guys has been taking TowCap and Gaspirin to sleep with him every night and he sometimes has a hard time deciding which one Mommy gets to be. There is no way I could rationalise keeping this set away from him.

  5. jackdaddy2008

    I haven’t got mine yet, but Jack isn’t getting it to play with.

    He has every car released already opened, all four playsets, a mountain set, a piston 500 and both macks.

    He needs more cars like a whole in the head, especially since he has entered his fighting phase, where all he wants to do is make his turtles clatter power rangers and vice versa. Usually he just wants to race his cars on the piston 500, he hardly ever plays with his town play sets, so because its only the one we have or will have, it will stay mint. He likes exploring outside more anyway.

    I will buy more if they come out individually, but I would hate to think that Apple becomes the next big thing and Jack has smashed it to bits!

  6. gwstudios

    People are paying 700+ for these sets, which makes the sellers know they will go to 800 and so on. Apple #84’s at $129 Buy it now, yipes.

    I’ll bet there will be people paying up to $1000 at some point. If they ever do release all the SoS exclusives in the future, the people who paid this kind of money will be extremely angry.

    I hope Mattel and Pixar keep at least a few of them off the store shelves only for the fact that it made the SoS set worth buying.

  7. EM

    Speaking of store shelves, holey moley! I went to my trusty WM today and they had 42, yes 42, pegs -full- of Cars. They have three different locations. Before today they had 22 and I thought that was good. Unfortunately, they were packed with whatever the case is between the release of Chuki and Van–lots of Lightning Ramone, Cartrip, etc.–nothing I needed, but it brought back visions of last fall.

  8. BMW

    Met, great blog again.
    What kind of a collector are you. Seems from this article you are an opener, yet your book documents all the cardbacks. Your articles have great info on the cardback variants from day one, so thought you were a cardback collector as well.

    Maybe I misunderstood.
    I will display my set, it is just too nice to leave in a box for some perceived future value.
    A clear acrylic cover over the top (like the base) would be nice to keep it dust free and dent free.
    I have a open set that I keep in nice display cases from Michaels. But think I will keep the original Mattel shipping boxes, but where to store them?
    They are huge. They might be worth alot in the future as people don’t have storage room for 4 foot tall boxes. 🙂

    Yes, hemis are worth more. 70 roadrunner, had one regular 383. Hemis not only cost more but the insurance was what no one could afford. And if you wanted a 4 speed, the insurance went through the roof!

    (MET: I do have a second set of the CARS on cards but a lot of the other things are owned by others who were kind enough to take photos for me).

  9. Fred


    any news on the racer three pack, I saw on ebay Stacy is listed, but isn’t she coming in a 3 pack?? just curious.

    (MET: Yes, 3-pack now due in June – so anyday now. If you’re an opener, you might wait … price hike goes into effect June 1, 2008 so for some reason, the warehouse can’s find the pallet loaders 🙂 )

  10. gwstudios

    More singles? I just got caught up. (Ugh)

  11. Russ

    i have recently got my speedway of the south set and have been comparing the cars to those in the movie.Although most are great replicas of their movie counterparts ,i noticed that shifty drug is coloured mauve/purple in the movie but scarlet red in the set by mattel! a surprising blunder really,considering there are several others already coloured red ,and a mauve edition to the set would stand out much better! has anyone else noticed any detail errors with the cars?

    (MET: That sounds like a perfect post when we have a lull … though not likely soon … June will be jammed)

  12. rene christiansen

    this is from denmark
    1000 dollars that is price her

  13. Dan

    Hey, Here’s some news from the latest Mattle Q&A for June ’08 from

    FIGS: With the recent release and subsequent sell-out of the Cars: Speedway of the South set, demand will no doubt be high for the characters contained within this set. How soon can fans expect to see these cars available in single cards, Movie Moments, and 3-packs and are all of these cars planned for release this year?

    MATTEL: Some of these cars will be released this year, some next year, others not at all and will remain exclusive to the set. Pays to be a Redline Club member huh? Membership has its privileges.

    For more Mattel Q & A, visit

    (MET: Yes, I can’t remember which post but I did point out “exclusive” holds a broad range of meanings. Willie Butte McQueen was an “exclusive,” when it only came with the Radiator Springs Mountain Challenge … later it was released on a single card as Dirt Track McQueen. The last CARS set only available on the Red Line Club two exclusives? Had two exclusive … cards … so, it all depends on what you consider ‘exclusive’ because maybe ‘Aggro’ Dale Jr. is never available elsewhere but smiley Dale Jr. continues to be available? Do you really care? Or the Apple CAR is released in a box set with other CARS and his rims are gray (the MSOS set being white, will you weep a thousand tears? Our post here covers what’s coming in the next three months.)

  14. PegWarmer

    Here is a post from the HWC website on how Mattel is going to deal with the numbered stickers that were absent from the Speedway set. Sorry if this was already posted:

    As many of you know, the sales article for the Pixar Cars Speedway of the South set indicated that the sets would be individually numbered up to 1000. This was an error in the article, as the sets were never intended to be numbered.

    However, to avoid any disappointment with our customers, we will be mailing numbered stickers to all who purchased the set, with instructions on where to apply the sticker.

    Stickers will be mailed randomly – the same way they would have been had they already been applied to the sets. This is in accordance with the way all numbered RLC items are shipped. Time of order does not dictate what number a customer receives.

    We apologize for the error in the article and thank you for your patience.

    – Mark

    I wonder how that’s going to work for all of those who purchased them from resellers?

    (MET: Since collecting CARS seems to affected our ‘logic cord,’ I can see people paying $75 for the sticker, $95 with the letter … 🙂 … hopefully some eBay sellers can see their way to “throwing” in $.42 worth of postage and including it … though for those who sold out at less than $825 are probably feeling they were taken 😛 )

  15. Matt

    MET – I guess there remains no telling as to the future value of this set at this point, but one would assume that a peak value would be hit once the sticker distribution occurs, and then settle at a mid-range level pending a final determination of which speedway cars are eventually released. I think part of what we are dealing with now is that the first wave of purely ebay sellers have sold their sets to purchasers who missed out, and now the market is sparse with sets as those with, are holding. The few sellers remaining are either sellers who waited, or original hold purchasers whose spouses found out the price of the set, or cannot pass up the pure profit from the quick sale of this set.

    What will become interesting now with so many sets sold prior to sticker release is the secondary market for the stickers themselves. In looking at ebay, a few very recent sales included the sticker in the price of the purchase, and made it a part of the deal. Early on, no one knew if the stickers would be released, and if and when that would be. Thus, there are many owners of the SOS set that have no guarantee that they will receive a sticker, and remain at the mercy of ebay to purchase one. Second, there may be a real issue with sticker numbering. Assume some of the power sellers with five separate RLC accounts and 5 SOS sold sets receive low or sought after individualized numbers. With no set to affix to, there is a secondary market just for the stickers. How much more is set #1 worth, than set #876. Under usual standards, the lower the number the better. How about #95?? etc..

    This could get ugly……

    (MET: While a sticker is nice, it’s clear that no one is balking – while there have now been some no-bid BUY IT NOW, out of 100 sets (?) being swapped … sales are running in the 95% range (counting repeats, of course) – clearly, the sticker is a non issue. It actually looks harder to fake the display case and the track than the CARS and each CAR seems to have a specific code number on the undercarriage so it’s pretty clear what’s legit and what’s not legit – the sticker is a superfluous add-on for the most part … though I suppose any of them in the low single digit might be an extra enticement (I’m going to out on a limb and say John Lassetter got #1 🙂 ) The “value” of this set has gone up 400% in less than 30 days – how much more can a sticker add to that? Sure, if people will pay $1k for a set missing the 5 most valuable CARS, what’s $100 for #8 (in the US) or #95? But beyond that? Whatever the “crazy” value is ultimately assigned to this set, it seems the value is set without consideration for the number in 99% of the case … Yes, I could see someone paying another $1k for #1 but #2, a few hundred maybe, #95? Sure … but #99? or #321, I don’t think it’ll make up more than 1-5% difference … though if the set continues pass $2k, then 5% is not without some merit … yep, never dull).

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