A few years ago when we cleaned out my grandma's house, someone in the family found this case of Matchbox cars that belonged to my dad when he was little. (It was the same day I found the quilt and the cake pan and the knitting needles, in fact.) I wasn't even pregnant yet, but I brought them home, knowing that they would delight any future child.
I've just pulled them out in the last few weeks. The Kid can only play with them under supervision--all the little parts are most definitely choking hazards--but, on the whole, he's as delighted with them as I imagined he would be. We've taught him to say, "Vroom! Vroom!" and "Beep! Beep!" as they skid along the floor.
We've also taught him that the cars belonged to "Pa", which is what he calls my dad. ("Grandpa" is a big word.) He likes to talk with Pa on the computer, and I've definitely noticed an uptick in how much he talks about him since we got the cars out. I think he might be putting the two together, which makes them so much more than just a bunch of old toys.