model train set on track

A Personal Guide to Collecting Postwar 6464 Boxcars – Part 1

e*Train Issue: Jan 2008   |   Posted in: ,

By Mike Stella

It would seem impossible for any Lionel collector not to have a few 6464 boxcars.  Many collectors strive to acquire all 29 different numbers in the 6464 series.  Add variations and 29 can easily double to 58 and more.   Start counting rivets and you can top 100 and beyond!

This series on collecting postwar 6464 boxcars is not meant to be a complete guide on all the variations that are available or the prototype samples that occasionally turn up or the one-of-a-kind archive items that were never put into production.  It is my personal tale of collection Lionel for the past 37 years and the fun and excitement I have had trying to complete a representative collection of the famous 6464 boxcar series.

First in the series, 6464-1 Blue Lettering

The logical place to start is with the 6464-1 Silver WP.  Lionel introduced the 6464 series in 1953 with the first four boxcars.  All were simply numbered 6464.  All were rather plain looking.  The Silver 6464 WP is very easy to obtain with BLUE LETTERING.  Like New condition cars with beautiful silver paint and crisp lettering can be found for very reasonable prices at meets or on the Internet.

6464-1 with RED Letters

This 6464-1 WP also came with RED LETTERING. This car turns up from time to time but I have rarely seen great looking silver and crisp letters.  I thank a dealer from the Seattle area for holding this car for me along with another I will mention a bit later.  I have never heard an explanation as the why Lionel produced the Red Lettered 6464-1 or how many might have been made compared to the Blue Lettered version.

Much of the thrill in collecting 6464s comes with the variations

Somewhere in a storage box I have a 6464-1 in Mint condition in the OB just to have the first in the series this way and because I think it cost a whopping $15 a number of years ago.

The very common 6464-25 GN

While there is a lot to say about the first 6464, I don’t have much to tell about number two, the 6464-25 GN.  I think is it a good looking boxcar.  It is very easy to find in great condition and even with the OB and it doesn’t cost that much.  Lionel must have produced a ton of these.

The next boxcar has more of a story.  The 6464-50 M&StL has always carried a mystic with it due to the 1953 Lionel catalog.

The common 6464-50 in Tuscan

It was pictured as a GREEN boxcar but is almost totally found in Tuscan.  Many 6464 collectors have never seen the green version and some may dispute it was ever made.

Very hard to find GREEN 6464-50  

When you consider the next car in the series you can understand why Lionel did not make too many green 6464-50s.

Tuscan and Green M&StL 6464-50s
Easy to acquire 6464-75 from 1953

The last of the 1953 cars is the 6464-75 GREEN RI.  This is the lowest numbered 6464 boxcar that was reproduced by Lionel in the final postwar year of 1969.  The 1969 cars can usually be had NEW in the Checkerboard OB.  Maybe by 1969 kids were no longer playing with toy trains and collectors bought the majority of these cars?

The 1953 version compared to the 1969 version of the 6464-75
The Silver 6464-100

With the next car in the series Lionel started adding the suffix to the 6464 number and the 6464-100 Western Pacific is one of the most interesting cars in the entire series.  It is the only boxcar that comes painted in two completely different schemes.  It is also famous for the limited number of salesman samples that were numbered “1954”

Add the Blue Feather 6464-100

While many collectors will tell you that the 6464-100 Blue Feather is hard to get I can say that I’ve seen well over 50 listed on the Internet over that past several years and while they do fetch a hefty price they are by no means rare.  I’ve even seen a “1954” offered for sale.  I don’t think it made the Reserve!

“1954” was a Salesman’s sample

Many collectors will be more than satisfied having a nice single example of each of these first five 6464s.  I have added just a few variations to bring my number to ten.

I am sure there are many 6464 specialists that have quite a few more.  I don’t really count rivets.  Someday I will tell you about an expert restorer I knew that could add or remove rivets from any 6464 boxcar and you could never tell!

My first 10 6464 boxcars and the end of Part One.