model train set on track

Getting myself into a PICKLE (car, that is)

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

By Mike Stella

Lionel made the tan colored Pickle Vat car and then the Blue colored Pineapple Vat car with a few collectable variations and that was it.

Done! No More!!

Modern era Lionel has done so many of these Vat cars I lost track a decade ago, maybe longer.  I’ll stick to writing about the Postwar versions because there were only two different cars.

“IF” the Heinz Pickle Vat Car was not made by Lionel it has to be the most expensive fake ever.

It is the Pickle Vat car version that commands the most attention with several collectable variations that can be difficult to locate and very costly when found.

I have 4 different Pickle cars in my collection.  I attended a huge Lionel train auction in San Diego 20 or so years ago and was able to add many items to my Postwar collection.  I won one box lot that contained about 19 Pickle cars.  The Heinz car was buried beneath a dozen other common versions and there were six or so of the cars without the hoops and stays on the vats.

Selling off about 15 of the cars more than covered what I’d paid for the lot, so I got the Heinz car for free.  Not bad.

The consensus among some “experts” is that this is NOT a Lionel produced car but was made by some dealer trying to move overstock.

I’ve seen a letter written by one “wheeler-dealer” stating that 65 to 70 cars were made.  I have always wondered why the person who supposedly did this has never come forward with verification.

I also cannot believe that any dealer would have 65 to 70 Pickle cars sitting around as overstock.  Who did he think he was, Madison Hardware?

I believe as I have seen first-hand that these so called “experts” will simply make up a plausible sounding story to explain away many things that Lionel did as the World’s largest toy manufacturer.

Once in print in what is supposed to be an accurate guide, these stories take on a life of their own and get repeated and rewritten so many times that everybody accepts them as true.


That is why I continue to be the Greatest Lionel Collector of all time.