By Jim Herron
The first 6464 was introduced in 1953. It was eleven inches long and higher than the previous boxcars. There were 29 different numerical boxcars, with many variations, both major and minor. Lionel offered numerous color combinations, some of which they made and other that may have been done by Madison Hardware in New York City. We have found through records some of the prototypes that were either never produced or produced in five or fewer models and designs.
Some examples: a red Seaboard R.R. car with a white door 6464 boxcar was never produced but a prototype exists; a U.S. Air Force 6464 prototype in blue and gold that was never produced; a 6464-900 yellow New York Central R.R. that was produced in the new archives series sets, but never during the postwar years; a New York Central R.R. Pacemaker variation had a prototype in lilac with red lettering and a red door 6464; a short line railroad adorned the prototypes in the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf in bright blue and white with a big K,O, & G in white lettering; in 8/58, a Detroit & Mackinac 6464 was thought of, in its dark red and gray colors. Burlington made the prototype line in a bright all red and white lettering boxcar, but it, too, never was produced as a 6464. The first 6464-1 Western Pacific was done in orange with white lettering, rather than the original silver of the first 6464 produced. The second, a 6464-25, was an orange Great Northern, but the third, a Tuscan Minneapolis and St. Louis 6464-50 was stamped with a Great Northern logo before the stamps were changed! This brings us back to the Western Pacific orange which got stamped that way before the Great Northern logos were put on the marking machines. Confusing? Stop and think about it. Did Lou and Carl have any input into this? Then there was the next variation of the Great Northern, an aqua with red lettering variation — a prototype that was never produced. The G.N. goat was very popular for some reason! There is more history on the 6464 boxcars, with more than 100 variations of paint, color, doors, wheel types, graphics and design. I earlier mentioned Lou and Carl. If they don’t sound familiar, you didn’t grow up in New York City! They were the owners of Madison Hardware (a hardware store with no hardware, they just made keys) on East 23 Street off of Lexington Avenue, not Madison Avenue. They were renowned for their variations of everything, including the 6464 boxcars. I remember going over there after Christmas with my dad and picking up a 6464 for about $3.00, which I still have. They had so many parts that they just would slap on a door or a different body to trucks and put it on the shelves and sell it to anyone. One needs to give credit to Terrell Classen for the articles and research he has done on the subject of the 6464 boxcars and Tom McComas for his History of 6464 Prototypes too.