10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (2022)

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.

Table of Contents

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

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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

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10

Vintage Tonka 1953 Cab Over Log Hauler

1953

$250

1. Tonka Eckes Bitters Private Label Truck

Year: 1945 – 1970
Price: $800

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (1)

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

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (2)

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

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (3)

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

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (4)

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

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (5)

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

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (6)

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.

(Video) Collector Time: Tonka Toys

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

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (7)

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

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (8)

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

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (9)

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

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (10)

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.

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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.

10 Most Valuable Tonka Trucks: Value and Price Guide (11)

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.

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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.

FAQs

What are my 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.

How can you tell if a Tonka truck is vintage? ›

Logo Identification

Look at the Tonka logo. From 1947 to 1977, changes were made to the logo every few years which makes it an easy identifier for early-edition Tonka trucks. Identify the colors of the logo. If the Tonka logo shows a blue sea and seagulls, it was likely to be manufactured between 1947 and 1957.

What's the most expensive Tonka toy? ›

1956 – Tonka Toys Aerial Ladder Fire Truck: $1,000 (£737)

The rarer models are, as you'd expect, the most valuable. They include this tricky to find 1956 aerial ladder fire truck, which sold for $1,000 (£737) on eBay in December 2017.

How many different Tonka trucks are there? ›

However, Tonka Trucks remain the company's most well-known and popular product line, which has expanded to include over thirty different models.

Are Tonka toys collectable? ›

Bottom line: Produced between 1963 and 1966, the Tonka GR 2-2431 Military Green Grader is a favorite among collectors. They were first sold as part of a four-piece boxed set with a grader, dozer, truck and jeep.

What was the first Tonka truck? ›

1947: The very first TONKA truck was made. 1964: The most popular truck, the TONKA MIGHTY DUMP, was introduced.

Does anyone Restore Tonka trucks? ›

MW Restorations has made a name for itself rebuilding old toy vehicles and recently got its hands on a 1975 Tonka pickup truck in pretty rough shape. MW took to YouTube to document the painstaking process required to completely restore it, which is far more elaborate than anything we expected to see.

How do you restore vintage Tonka trucks? ›

Vintage Tonka Truck Restoration - YouTube

What scale are Tonka jeeps? ›

Tonka Jeep 1:18 Scale Diecast & Toy Vehicles for sale | eBay.

Are old Tonka trucks worth any money? ›

Most Tonka trucks in good condition from the late '40s through the early '60s can be purchased for between $100 and $300. Because so many Tonka products were manufactured, standard outlets including flea markets, garage sales and antique stores are good sources for Tonka trucks.

How do you remove rust from old Tonka trucks? ›

How To Remove Rust From A Vintage/Old Rusty Metal Toy Truck

What is a real Tonka truck? ›

The Tuscany Motor Company in Elkhart, Indiana produces the full-size version of the Tonka truck, under license from the Hasbro toy company. The yellow special edition pickup truck is based on an F-150 Lariat Crew Cab 4×4. Here is why the Ford Tonka truck is so expensive.

What does Tonka stand for? ›

The logo was based on a University of Minnesota drafting student's sketch by Donald B. Olson, who later became the company's Chief Industrial Engineer. The logo used the Dakota Sioux word tanka, which means "great" or "big". In November 1955, Mound Metalcraft changed its name to Tonka Toys Incorporated.

What is the biggest Tonka truck? ›

We've done the math, and it weighs about as much as 160 000 Tonka Trucks. That's big….

What does the word Tonka mean? ›

: the seed of any of several leguminous trees of the genus Dipteryx that contains coumarin and is used in perfumes and as a flavoring also : a tree bearing tonka beans.

Who started Tonka toys? ›

Tonka Corporation began as a small metal manufacturing company located in an old school house in Mound, Minnesota. Its three founders, Lynn Baker, Avery Crouse, and Alvin Tesch, started the company in 1946. Mound Metalcraft, as the company was at first called, specialized in manufacturing tie racks and garden tools.

Where was the original Tonka toy factory? ›

Tonka toys were invented and produced in Mound, Minnesota, by the Mound Metalcraft Company. In 1947, the company was approached by Streater Industries, another local business, to take over several toy patents.

Are Tonka trucks still made in the USA? ›

Originally made from steel at a Minnesota factory, Tonka trucks have been imported from Asia for the last couple of decades. But there's a surprising twist to the story: Now the new Chinese chief executive of Funrise is exploring how to make at least a few Tonka trucks in the United States.

How do you get paint off a Tonka truck? ›

Aircraft paint remover on Tonka crane - YouTube

How do you remove wheels from a Tonka truck? ›

How To Remove Hubs From Old Tonka Trucks - YouTube

How do you remove a Tonka axle cap? ›

Tips and tricks series: Installation of hubcaps and Tonka tires - YouTube

How do you restore metal toys? ›

HOW TO RESTORE TIN TOYS 1 - YouTube

How do you remove Nylint wheels? ›

If you are working on a tractor or a semi-truck, the wheels may have small screws or caps on the ends. If they do, use a wrench to turn them clockwise and loosen them up so that they fall off. You may need to use some force, especially if your Nylint car or truck is rusty or corroded.

How do you clean vintage metal? ›

Place all the rusted antique hardware and screws in a bowl and pour enough vinegar to cover all the parts. Add ketchup and soak for four to eight hours. Check in from time to time to see if the rust is lifting. Dab the scrub pad in more ketchup and wipe the rusty areas.

How do I clean an old iron? ›

Use a paper towel sheet to apply vinegar directly to the rust areas. Leave the vinegar on the rust for several minutes. Use the scrub pad to remove the rust. Use a fresh sheet of paper towel to wipe the metal clean.

How many Tonka F-150 were made? ›

Unfortunately, there were only 200 units built. The three-seat bench was just regular in the back but covered in black leather. Last but not least, the truck came with a dual-pane moonroof. But there was more than just the look on this Tonka F-150 pickup.

What year did Ford make the Tonka truck? ›

Tonka has been the best selling toy truck since 1947, and in turn, is probably responsible for sowing the seeds for many future truck enthusiasts. Beneath the familiar yellow exterior is a Shelby supercharger powered 5.0-liter V8, which ends up capping around 700 HP. That's right, this truck is comparable to a Hellcat.

Did Ford make a Tonka truck? ›

The "built-for-fun" Tonka trucks are made by Ford Tuscany, the leading specialty truck modifier for the Ford Motor Company, and feature a customized body kit.

Does Tonka mean Buffalo? ›

Although this name was a mix-up of two different animals, many people still know bison as buffalo today. Another name for these animals is “tatanka.” Tatanka is the Lakota word for bison.

What is Tonka smell? ›

The pleasant, natural aroma of tonka bean can be described as a mix of sweet, spicy, nutty, herbaceous, and woody. Its scent is complex and sweet like vanilla, with enticing notes of spices and tobacco. It can be warm, welcoming, and even seductive at times, depending on how it's blended together with other fragrances.

Where does the word Tonka come from? ›

The name comes from the Sioux word tonka, meaning "large." Minnesotans will recognize it from many place names around the state, like Tonka Bay and Minnetonka. The metal trucks quickly found buyers. Thanks to their large size and sturdiness, they became favorites of many children.

What is a Tonka dump truck? ›

The Tonka Steel Classics Mighty Dump Truck is built for hauling! This sturdy, steel construction vehicle is ready for the toughest loading jobs. Move the bed up and down to trigger its unloading action! Constructed Tonka tough with real Steel!

What age are Tonka trucks? ›

Constructed Tonka tough with real Steel! Appropriate for ages 3 years and up.

What is the biggest truck in the world? ›

Belaz 75710

The Belaz 75710, with a capacity of 496 tons, is the biggest dumper truck in the world. This model was development by the Belarusian company's engineers with the aim of having a suitable load for a Russian mining company.

What is Feve Tonka English? ›

Enjoy a year of unlimited access to The Atlantic—including every story on our site and app, subscriber newsletters, and more. The French have had "fièvre tonka" ("tonka fever")—an overused food-mag pun on fève, the French word for "bean"— for years.

How do you spell Tonka? ›

Tonka is an American toy company most known for its signature toy trucks and construction equipment.

How do you spell tonka bean? ›

the fragrant, black almond-shaped seed of a tall tree belonging to the genus Dipteryx (or Coumarouna), of the legume family, especially D.

How do you remove rust from old Tonka trucks? ›

How To Remove Rust From A Vintage/Old Rusty Metal Toy Truck

Where was Tonka toys made? ›

Tonka toys were invented and produced in Mound, Minnesota, by the Mound Metalcraft Company. In 1947, the company was approached by Streater Industries, another local business, to take over several toy patents.

Are old rusty Tonka trucks worth anything? ›

Most Tonka trucks in good condition from the late '40s through the early '60s can be purchased for between $100 and $300. Because so many Tonka products were manufactured, standard outlets including flea markets, garage sales and antique stores are good sources for Tonka trucks.

Does anyone Restore Tonka trucks? ›

MW Restorations has made a name for itself rebuilding old toy vehicles and recently got its hands on a 1975 Tonka pickup truck in pretty rough shape. MW took to YouTube to document the painstaking process required to completely restore it, which is far more elaborate than anything we expected to see.

How do you remove wheels from a Tonka truck? ›

How To Remove Hubs From Old Tonka Trucks - YouTube

What does Tonka stand for? ›

The logo was based on a University of Minnesota drafting student's sketch by Donald B. Olson, who later became the company's Chief Industrial Engineer. The logo used the Dakota Sioux word tanka, which means "great" or "big". In November 1955, Mound Metalcraft changed its name to Tonka Toys Incorporated.

What does the word Tonka mean? ›

: the seed of any of several leguminous trees of the genus Dipteryx that contains coumarin and is used in perfumes and as a flavoring also : a tree bearing tonka beans.

What is the biggest Tonka truck? ›

We've done the math, and it weighs about as much as 160 000 Tonka Trucks. That's big….

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