10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide

Vintage Tonka trucks are fine collectibles because of their nostalgic appeal. In the mid-50s, Tonka Toys was producing over 400,000 toy trucks every week. The Tonka trucks were most kids’ favorite toys. So today, they bring back fond memories making them highly valuable collectibles.

What are the most valuable Tonka trucks, and what should you look out for when buying vintage Tonka trucks? Read on to find answers to these questions and more.

Who makes Tonka trucks?

Tonka trucks are made by Tonka Toys, an American company famous for making steel replicas of construction-type trucks, fire trucks, and delivery trucks.

The company was started in 1946 in Mound, Minnesota. At the time it went by the name Mound Metalcraft. Tonka trucks started as a secondary product of the company, but they quickly became the primary products. The “Tonka” name is inspired by lake Minnetonka in Minnesota.

In 1955, the company officially changed its name from Mound Metalcraft to Tonka Toys Incorporated. The company continued so until 1991 when the American conglomerate Hasbro acquired it. Hasbro has remained the parent company of Tonka Toys to date.

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks

No.
Name
Year
Price
1
Tonka Eckes Bitters Private Label Truck
1945 – 1970
$800
2
Vintage Tonka Morrell Meats Refrigerated Truck
1954
$699.99
3
1974 Tonka Toys Mighty Mixer
1974
$550
4
Tonka Fire Truck Plus 2 Detached Ladders
1970
$550
5
Vintage Minute Maid Tonka Truck
1955
$500
6
Tonka No.5 Hook and Ladder Fire truck
1955
$500
7
Vintage Tiny Tonka No.968 Extended Backhoe
1970
$475
8
Tonka Custom Jeep with Houseboat
1970
$400
9
Vintage Tonka Truck Road Grader
1956-1961
$278.9
10
Vintage Tonka 1953 Cab Over Log Hauler
1953
$250

 

1. Tonka Eckes Bitters Private Label Truck

Year: 1945 – 1970
Price: $800
Tonka Eckes Bitters Private Label Truck
Tonka Eckes Bitters Private Label Truck (Source: Deerbe)

The Eckes Bitters Tonka truck is also among the private label series of Tonka toys. It is a mini-cargo open-back delivery truck with a raised tailgate. It comes advertising Eckes Bitters, a German-based bitter company.

It was manufactured in the 1970s and is made from pressed steel, so it’s a tough toy truck that offers exciting push-and-go fun. This cream-colored delivery truck is a true HTF (hard to find) Tonka truck, making it very valuable.

2. Vintage Tonka Morrell Meats Refrigerated Truck

Year: 1954
Price: $699.99
Vintage Tonka Morrell Meats Refrigerated Truck
Vintage Tonka Morrell Meats Refrigerated Truck (Source: Ebay)

The Morrell Meats refrigerated truck is another classic from the private label series of Tonka Toys.

The toy truck mimics a refrigerated semi-trailer truck. To complete the theme, the truck advertises “Morrell Meats”, which rings like the meat processing company John Morrell and Co.

The semi-cab is white and the refrigerated trailer is grey. The truck measures 24 x 9 inches. This refrigerated Tonka truck which was manufactured in 1954 is very rare today making it command a hefty fee.

3. 1974 Tonka Toys Mighty Mixer

Year: 1974
Price: $550
1974 Tonka Toys Mighty Mixer
1974 Tonka Toys Mighty Mixer (Source: Ebay)

This Mighty Mixer No. 3950 is one of the construction-themed vehicles of Tonka Toys. Manufactured in 1974, this Tonka is a large truck scaling 1:16. It has an imposing form with 6 large tires.

The mixer will often be used on these trucks, but due to its quality, it is usually in perfect condition. The barrel rotates, and the chute swivels. The color is stunning lime green and there is no doubt its beauty and nostalgic appeal play an important role in its price.

4. Tonka Fire Truck Plus 2 Detached Ladders

Year: 1970
Price: $550
Tonka Fire Truck Plus 2 Detached Ladders
Tonka Fire Truck Plus 2 Detached Ladders (Source: Ebay)

The Tonka Fire Truck was not just about big fun. It also taught big lessons, being the first line of defense when disaster strikes.

The Tonka fire truck comes with free-wheeling action. This allows it to be powered by one’s imagination for endless fun. It also features two ladders that raise and pivot. The ladders are detachable, and each one measures 12 inches in length.

The fire truck, which comes in the color red is quite large compared to other Tonka trucks. It is 20 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 14 inches high (with ladder extended).

The Tonka fire trucks hit the market in 1970. If you’re lucky enough to find one, hopefully, it is still in great condition.

5. Vintage Minute Maid Tonka Truck

Year: 1955
Price: $500
Vintage Minute Maid Tonka Truck
Vintage Minute Maid Tonka Truck (Source: Ebay)

The Minute Maid truck is among the private label series of Tonka Toys. Manufactured in 1955, the truck has a refreshing theme.

To every child, the refreshing drinks in-between game events add to the experience. Minute Maid is a product line of beverages. By using this theme, this Tonka truck excited back in the days by touching on two of kids’ best loves – game fun and refreshment.

The vintage Minute Maid truck is in a white box truck which is made from pressed steel.

6. Tonka No.5 Hook and Ladder Fire truck

Year: 1955
Price: $500
Tonka No.5 Hook and Ladder Fire truck
Tonka No.5 Hook and Ladder Fire truck (Source: Ebay)

The Tonka No.5 Hook and Ladder fire truck is a real gem. Manufactured in the 1950s, it is one of the rarest Tonka trucks.

The fire fighting truck looks like the real thing, even completing the theme with TFD written over the car, which means Tonka Fire Department.

The red-colored No.5 Hook and Ladder fire truck features a specialized turntable mounted on a trailer truck. All the ladders, sirens, and extinguishers are all there and work properly. The fire truck is also free-wheeling.

7. Vintage Tiny Tonka No.968 Extended Backhoe

Year: 1970
Price: $475
Tiny Tonka No.968 Extended Backhoe
Tiny Tonka No.968 Extended Backhoe (Source: Worthpoint)

The Tiny Tonka No.968 Extended Backhoe is one of the construction-themed vehicles that were a kids’ delight in the noughties.

The sturdy backhoe is made of die-cast metal with small plastic parts. It features realistic details for imaginative play. The tiny Tonka truck measures about 15 inches in length. It’s built for push-and-go fun.

A fine level of detail makes this truck particularly impressive and it looks fantastic too.

8. Tonka Custom Jeep with Houseboat

Year: 1970
Price: $400
Tonka Custom Jeep with Houseboat
Tonka Custom Jeep with Houseboat (Source: Ebay)

In its heyday, the Tonka Jeep with Houseboat gave kids double fun. There’s the toy jeep and there’s the toy houseboat.

This Tonka toy was made in 1970. Like most others, it’s built tough as it is made from pressed steel. It is a mix of purple and white color, with the white able to turn ghost violet depending on the light hitting it. Both the jeep and houseboat feature great detailing.

9. Vintage Tonka Truck Road Grader

Year: 1956 – 1961
Price: $278.9
Vintage Tonka Truck Road Grader
Vintage Tonka Truck Road Grader (Source: Ebay)

This road grader is another Tonka truck you may want to add to your collection. Manufactured between 1956 and 1961, the Tonka road grader is quite rare to find.

It scales 1:18 and measures 17 inches in length. This large Tonka road grader thrilled back in the days as it flattened anything on its path. With its steel blade, it leveled dirt and gravel like the real thing.

10. Vintage Tonka 1953 Cab Over Log Hauler

Year: 1953
Price: $250
Vintage Tonka 1953 Cab Over Log Hauler
Vintage Tonka 1953 Cab Over Log Hauler (Source: Ebay)

The cab-over pressed steel log hauler is another very valuable Tonka truck today.

It is a semi-truck and trailer with logs properly secured to the trailer bed with chains. The log hauler, which is about 20 inches long, is as imaginative as possible, allowing it to provide hours of fun back in the day.

Tonka Truck Buying Guide

What do you look out for when buying a vintage Tonka truck? We cover these in this guide.

They include:

  • Rarity
  • Age
  • Condition
  • Original Packaging

Rarity

HTF (Hard To Find) is lingo in the collectibles industry. Rarity adds value to any vintage piece, including the Tonka trucks.

The more difficult it is to find a Tonka truck, the more valuable it’ll be. So a Tonka truck that is one of a few that was produced will be more valuable today than one that was widely produced.

Rarity is such an important factor that a Tonka truck that is very hard to find many still command a good fee even if it is in bad shape.

Age

In the world of collectibles, “the older, the better”. Generally, older vintage pieces tend to be more valuable.

One reason for this is that the older pieces often feature materials or technology that later pieces do not have.

Condition

The condition of a vintage piece may even trump rarity when it comes to valuation. Condition is as important to vintage pieces (including Tonka trucks) as the location is to real estate.

Different lingo is used to describe pieces’ condition in the industry. The foremost is “mint”, which describes a piece that is perfect relative to its production state. You’ll also find other lingo as near-perfect, very good, and good.

A Tonka truck in mint condition will definitely be worth more than a similar one that features slight denting or paint loss on a few edges.

Sometimes, vintage Tonka trucks are labeled “restored”. This means that some restorative work had been done to return the piece to good or near-perfect condition. Restoration chips something off the value of vintage pieces, including Tonka trucks.

Original Packaging

The original packaging adds to the value of all collectibles, including Tonka trucks. This is because the original packaging is proof of authenticity. Even more than that, it is emotions rather than the intrinsic value of the piece that drive collectors, and the original packaging is part of the experience.

Today, original toy packaging even has its own market, as collectors chase down the original boxes that their precious vintage pieces came in. Thus, a Tonka truck coming in its original box will be more valuable than a similar one without the box.

FAQs

How much are Tonka trucks worth?

Vintage Tonka trucks go for as much as $1,000 today. A 1956 aerial ladder Tonka fire truck was sold on eBay for $1,000.

Different factors determine the value of Tonka trucks. On eBay, you’ll find many Tonka trucks going for $200 to $400, while a few are over $600.

What Tonka trucks are worth money?

The Tonka trucks that are worth serious money today are the early and rare models that are in good condition.

Note that the company still produces toy trucks today, but these are available for less than $50. The Tonka trucks that are worth serious money are the vintage pieces.

Especially, look out for those pieces before 1961 with great detailing. Look out for models that were not produced much. Also, look out for models in mint condition, and especially those in their original boxes.

Who makes Tonka trucks?

Tonka trucks are made by Tonka Toys, an American company famous for making steel replicas of construction-type trucks, fire trucks, and delivery trucks.

The company was started in 1946 in Mound, Minnesota. At the time it went by the name Mound Metalcraft. Tonka trucks started as a secondary product of the company, but they quickly became the primary products. The “Tonka” name is inspired by lake Minnetonka in Minnesota.

In 1955, the company officially changed its name from Mound Metalcraft to Tonka Toys Incorporated. The company continued so until 1991 when the American conglomerate Hasbro acquired it. Hasbro has remained the parent company of Tonka Toys to date.

Where can I buy Tonka trucks?

You’ll see vintage Tonka toys that are very valuable in eBay, Etsy, auctions, and garage sales.

The Tonka trucks that are valuable today are those “cute oldies” that the company has probably forgotten about manufacturing. So, they are in the hands of collectors or original owners who played with them as kids. Oftentimes, the original owners bring the trucks out from their basements.

For this reason, you’ll find vintage Tonka trucks only in garage sales or auction sales, or in personal marketplace places like eBay and Etsy.

How to tell Tonka trucks age?

One of the best ways to tell the age of a vintage Tonka truck is its logo. Changes were made to the logo on the trucks over the years, such that the logo on a particular truck all but points to the period it was made.

The logo has always been an oval but there have been changes to color and words.

Tonka trucks logo

Up until 1955, the logo of the Tonka trucks featured the words “Tonka Toys” in red, against a gold background. Above the words are flying seagulls, and below it is a blue sea with the words “Mound Metalcraft Inc. Mound. Minn”. So any vintage Tonka that you see with this logo is one of the company’s earliest trucks, manufactured between 1946 and 1955.

Between 1956 and 1957, there was a subtle change to the logo. Everything remained intact but “Mount Metalcraft Inc” was removed from the logo (remember that the company changed its name in 1955).

Between 1958 and 1961, there were color changes to the logo. The gold background was changed to white, and the blue sea was changed to a gold sea.

From 1962 to 1969, the logo changed significantly. The oval featured a red background and a gold sea separate by white waves. “Tonka Toys” was replaced by “Tonka”, in a distinctive style – the “T” stretching all the way and connecting with the “k”. This has been maintained to date. The “Mound Minn” writing on the sea feature was also changed to block letters.

From 1970 to 1973, the logo saw a small change. The “MOUND, MINN” was changed to “U.S.A.”.

Between 1974 and 1975, the color of the sea feature was changed from gold to yellow. The words “U.S.A” were also removed.

From 1976 to 1977, the company simplified its logo with an all-red oval having the uniquely-styled “Tonka” in white.

From 1978, the company ditched the long-standing oval. It went with the uniquely-styled “Tonka” in red, against a white background which is framed by a red line.

This logo remained until 2007 when the company simplified things further by ditching every styling except that on the Tonka name. Now the logo is simply the uniquely-styled “Tonka” in black.

Where are the model numbers on Tonka trucks?

In virtually all the Tonka trucks, you’ll find the model number underneath the truck.

If you are lucky enough to get a vintage Tonka with original packaging and box inserts, you’ll find the model number in the catalog. If your Tonka comes alone, you can also find the model number engraved on its body, usually under the car.

Tonka Catalog Appearance History – Tonka Ads 1940s to 1980s ✔

Conclusion

The cheap Tonka trucks that were kids’ favorite playthings in the 50s through to the 70s are now very valuable collectibles. These trucks are worth up to $1,000 depending on the many different variables we’ve looked at here.

Factors like rarity, age, and condition determine the value of vintage Tonka trucks. So, if you find a very early Tonka Truck that is hard to find, and in pristine condition, you have a real gem in your hand. Having it in its original packaging can even add up to 50% or more to its value.

1 thought on “10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide”

  1. #6, Rare Tonka Fire Truck, I have one in full functioning condition along with the
    Tonka Fire Chief #5 Badge. How does that change its value?

    Reply

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