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|Lionel Postwar Short Streamlined Passenger Cars|
My very first Lionel train set, #1534W from way back in 1955, contained three of the short streamlined passenger cars. That was the start of my interest in those cars. Over the years, I've collected all of them from the Lionel postwar period (1946-1969). On this page, I've put photos of all of the cars. Videos of all of the cars in action can be found on my Multimedia page.
The first set of cars came out in 1948 and they were available again in 1949. There were three cars in the set, green with gray roofs, yellow window trim and striping, and white lettering, all named for towns here in New Jersey that surrounded the Lionel factory in Hillside -- 2400 Maplewood, 2401 Hillside, and 2402 Chatham. These cars set the model for all that followed. They had an internal metal chassis to which the plastic body and roof were screwed, the roof by fancy screws made to look like rooftop ventilators. This set had die-cast trucks with electro-magnetic coil couplers controlled by sliding shoes and both trucks were equipped with power pickup rollers for illumination. They had a plain window strip to diffuse the illumination. These cars were part of sets 1430WS (O27 gauge) and 2140WS (O gauge) in both 1948 and 1949 and were available for separate sale.
In 1950, Lionel changed the short streamlined cars. While the catalog showed cars that were all silver with black lettering, the cars that they actually delivered had silver bodies, gray roofs (the same as the previous green cars), black lettering, and black window trim and striping. The window strips added silhouettes of passengers but in all other regards, they were built the same as the previous set. The cars were again available in 1951. The cars were 2421 Maplewood, 2422 Chatham, and 2423 Hillside, the same names as the previous set but different numbers. The cars were part of set #2150WS (O gauge) in 1950 and sets #1464W (O27 gauge) and #2150W (O gauge) in 1951 and were available for separate sale. 1951 was the last year that the short streamlined cars were cataloged in O gauge sets; beginning in 1952 with the advent of the extruded aluminum passenger cars, they henceforth appeared only in O27 gauge sets.
In 1950, Lionel brought out a second set of short streamlined passenger cars. These were part of the "anniversary set" #1464W (O27 gauge) as called by collectors as it was the fiftieth (golden) anniversary of Lionel. The cars were yellow with gray roofs, red lettering, and red window trim and striping but were otherwise built as the previous sets. The cars were the 2481 Plainfield, 2482 Westfield, and 2483 Livingston and came in a set with a pair of Union Pacific Alco FA diesel locomotives. They were also available for separate sale and were cataloged only in 1950.
The next set of cars came out in 1952 and were available again in 1953. These cars match the appearance of the cars first cataloged in 1950, all silver with black lettering and no window trim or striping. Even though the cars were different in appearance from the previous set (gray roof), they carried the same numbers and names: 2421 Maplewood, 2422 Chatham, and 2423 Hillside. This has occasioned confusion ever since. In 1952, the cars came in set #1464W, the third time this set number had been used with three different sets of cars, and in set #1484WS, which included a fourth car, 2429 Livingston. In 1953, they once again came in set #1464W and also set #1502WS. Both were sets of three cars; Livingston came only with the one set in 1952. All were available for separate sale.
In 1954, the short streamlined cars underwent a number of changes. First, the trucks now came with magnetic couplers rather than electro-magnetic, doing away with the sliding shoes. The pickup rollers for the illumination went from both trucks to one truck only, occasioning much more flickering of the lights. While remaining all silver, the cars now sported red lettering and the city names were changed as well: 2432 Clifton, 2434 Newark, 2435 Elizabeth, and 2436 Summit. Clifton was the very first of what were at-first called Astra-Dome cars, later changed to Vista-Dome cars. Lionel also, unintentionally, introduced a collectible variation. With the previous sets, the car numbers were stamped below the gap between windows. With this set, the number were stamped below the windows. Mostly. If you'll note the two Clifton photos, one has the numbers below the windows as with the rest of the set. The other has the numbers stamped below the gap between the windows, as with the previous sets. This was probably a very early production example of the car before the numbers were moved to their new location. While most of the previous set were available for two years, this set, with variations, was available for five, from 1954 to 1958. In 1954, Clifton, Newark, and Summit came in set #1516WS and Clifton, Elizabeth, and Summit came in set #1520W. In 1955, Clifton, Newark, and Summit came in set #1534W (my very first Lionel train set), two Cliftons and one Summit came in set #1536W, and Clifton, Newark, Elizabeth, and Summit came in set #1538WS. In 1956, Clifton, Newark, and Summit came in set #1552. In 1957 a change was made, with 2436 Mooseheart replacing 2436 Summit. Clifton, Newark, and Mooseheart came in set #1578S (examples are known to have come with Summit) and two Cliftons and one Mooseheart came in set #1586 (examples are known to have come with Summit). In 1958, Clifton and Mooseheart came in set #1600 and two Cliftons, Newark, and Mooseheart came in set #1608W. All of the cars were available for separate sale.
In 1956 alone, Lionel produced a second set of short streamlined passenger cars. These cars were very much the same as the ones above with the exception that they bore a broad red stripe along the windows. These cars came with two variations, a glossy red stripe and a dull red stripe. In the four photos below, Newark is a glossy stripe, the rest are dull. The cars have the same names as the previous series though with different numbers and are 2442 Clifton, 2444 Newark, 2445 Elizabeth, and 2446 Summit. They came in set #1562W with two Cliftons, Newark, and Summit. All were available for separate sale, which was the only way to get Elizabeth as it did not appear in the set.
In 1959, the short streamlined passenger cars once again changed. For the first time, they were lettered for a real railroad, Santa Fe, rather than Lionel Lines. They got a large number rather than a smaller number and city name. They also got a broad blue stripe along the windows, much as the 1956 set had a broad red stripe. The cars were 2412, 2414, and 2416. In 1959, they came in set #1626W with two of 2412 and one 2416. In 1960, the same cars came in set #1640W. In 1961, set #1651 had two of 2412, one 2414, and one 2416. In 1962, set #11308 had the same four cars. Finally, in 1963, set #11405 also had the same four cars. They were available for separate sale.
I call this set "the nadir" of the short streamliner sets. Coming out in 1964 and repeated in 1965, it represents the depths to which Lionel had sunk on its way to the end of the postwar era. No lighting, hence no pickup rollers, no window strips, as bare bones as you can get (I suppose we should be glad that these cars had wheels!). The three cars are 2404, 2405, and 2406, lettered for Santa Fe, with both lettering and numbering in blue. These cars came in set #11490 in both 1964 and 1965. They were available for separate sale.
The next set is the last of the postwar short streamliners. They came out in 1966 in set #11590 and were available for separate sale. These cars are actually an upgrade from the previous set, with the lighting, pickup rollers, and window strips restored. The cars are 2408, 2409, and 2410, lettered for Santa Fe, with both lettering and numbering in blue. In Lionel's last three years in the postwar era (1967-1969) before General Mills Model Products Corp (MPC), later Fundimensions, bought the train business, short streamliners were not available.
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