The Lionel X6454 Baby Ruth boxcar is one of the most basic freight cars ever made. It looks unassuming and familiar, but it’s among the toughest postwar cars to find and own.
Lionel cataloged this 9¼-inch model only in 1948. It was one of three new single-door boxcars introduced that year, all of them designated X6454.
The Baby Ruth car, like its mates lettered for the Santa Fe and New York Central, supposedly was a component in three O-27 steam freight sets: Nos. 1427WS, 1429WS, and 1445WS. Curiously, the artwork of the three outfits in the consumer catalog showed only a brown NYC boxcar.
The catalog section that pictured and described separate-sale items identified the single-door boxcar with its previous number (X2454) and not the new one. The latter was assigned to models equipped with the updated knuckle coupler. The illustration showed a tan model with New York Central graphics.
One might assume from the catalog entry the model was available only with NYC markings. However, the text accompanying the illustration of the separate-sale boxcar declared: “The Lionel Corp. reserves [the] right to alter lettering and emblems on [the car] sides.”
The assigned retail price was $4.50. That translates to $52.50 in today’s dollars.
The brown-painted X6454 boxcar with New York Central lettering wasn’t the only model. Research revealed another model came in orange with Santa Fe graphics. A third featured the orange-painted body with black Baby Ruth information and a black Pennsylvania RR keystone herald used the previous two years on the No. X2454.
According to Paul V. Ambrose, the author of the volume on cataloged sets of Greenberg’s Guide to Lionel Trains, 1945-1969, “The 6454 boxcar could come in any of three road names since its inclusion in 1948 [sets] was done randomly.”
Perhaps that was the case. However, without production records showing how many of each of the three cars were made, the observation of collectors over the past 40 or even 50 years suggests otherwise.
Namely, the Baby Ruth model has proven to be scarcer than either of the other two. As such, it’s always had a higher price its comrades. Two things can be inferred: far fewer of them were made; and they were probably never used in any of the three O-27 outfits.
Anyone assembling a postwar Lionel rolling stock collection will want to acquire examples of the X6454 New York Central and Santa Fe boxcars. Only one variation of the latter has been reported. Three paint colors are known for the NYC model, with tan most common and orange least.
As for the Baby Ruth car, no variations have been found. All models have brown-painted metal doors, a brake wheel on one end, a sheet-metal frame with steps at all four corners, and staple-end trucks with magnetic knuckle couplers.
The 2023 edition of Greenberg’s Pocket Price Guide to Lionel Trains specifies a value of $79 for an X6454 Baby Ruth boxcar in very good condition and $249 for one in excellent with its original box. Good luck in your search for this hard-to-find and often-overlooked beauty.
More on Lionel postwar cars
Interested in learning about other Lionel postwar items to upgrade your collection?
Lionel set No. 2190W, a Santa Fe passenger outfit from 1952
Lionel No. 2855, Sunoco tank cars
Lionel No. 3672, the “Bosco car”