Lionel is an American firm that manufactures toy trains, model trains and parts out of North Carolina. It was subsequently purchased by Richard P. Kughn, Detroit-based real estate developer (and railroad enthusiast) in 1986. Then in 1995 it was purchased by The Martin Davis Investment Group.
Interesting note: When Lionel changed hands again in 1995, Kughn sold it to an investment group that included musician Neil Young.
Model train collectors tell us that the most expensive Lionel Train sold was $250,000.00. It was a mint condition set from 1934 that included engine & passenger cars. It looked brand new, just like the day it was purchased.
The next most expensive single train sold was the Brass 700E Hudson that fetched over $77,000.00. The most notable train however is known as “The Brute” which is said to have a $500,000.00 price tag on it currently. Apparently The brute was a big model that was made out of Italy.
Other valuable trains would be the motorized gondola and trolleys from when the Lionel train company first was created.
Lionel train collectors can be found world wide and the values of the pieces vary greatly. It is typical that the older pieces tend to be more value simply to rarity. Or course, as with any collectible, whether it be memorabilia, vehicles, art, or designer goods, condition and rarity are key. The production of reproductions by Lionel and has somewhat diluted the market and decreased some values, which further makes the older versions even most desirable.
The LEGACY equipped steam and diesel locomotives are highly desired as well as the Vision Line of locomotives and cars.
We recently assisted a family in Las Vegas to liquidate a massive “O” gage train collection that included over 400 rolling stock (cars, engines, cabuses, flatbeds, etc). The owners favorite piece was the Southern Pacific daylight train because he rode on it when he was a child. He had about a half mile of track, the engineer’s hat, and train whistle of course. Within the inventory we found a novelty Neiman Marcus Heavy Hauler 18 wheel truck, which was bought at the estate sale in the first five minutes.