It is so hard to choose favorites from my collection of rolling stock that consists of many different eras and manufacturers. Especially since I've accumulated over 700 pieces of rolling stock over the years BUT, I'll try.
Let's start with what is probably the beefiest piece of PreWar Lionel Standard Gauge rolling stock - the #219 Derrick (crane) car from the mid 1920's. Heavy, colorful and a lot of play value. This beast is huge, over 23 inches from coupler to the tip of the boom:
Lionel continued to make colorful tin Derrick cars, but now in O gauge. Here is one I really like, early PostWar (a carry-over from the PreWar#2660), made from 1946-1947, is the #2560 Sante Fe Derrick car with coil knuckle couplers. This guy is only about 11 inches from coupler to the tip of its boom:
Lionel was back to full speed when they made the realistic O gauge #2460 Bucyrus Erie Crane car from 1946 to 1950. This car is heavy with its die-cast metal frame and 6 wheel trucks. It measures almost 13 inches from coupler to the tip of the boom:
Another Lionel PostWar favorite freight car is the #6414 Autoloader with its load of 4 plastic autos. I like this car so much that I have 12 of them - they make a great "unit" train IMHO. These were made from 1955-1957:
Later on during the PostWar period Lionel joined the space race. My favorite here is the #3413 Mercury Capsule car. It launched a rocket whose Mercury capsule separates after launch and floats down with a parachute - talk about play value! This car was made between 1962 and 1964:
Beating Lionel to the punch, Gilbert American Flyer made a car that remotely launched a rocket. This S gauge model, #969, was made in 1957:
Another favorite Gilbert American Flyer car is the #24550 Monan trailer flatcar from 1959-1964:
Before WW2, and before being taken over by Gilbert, American Flyer produced O gauge colorful tin trains. Here is one of my favorites, the #480 Shell tank car:
Modern era Lionel produced a number of cars re-using PostWar molds, one of them being a Icing/reefer car. This particular one I really like! It was made for the 2018 LCCA (Lionel Collectors Club of America) convention that took place in Chicago. It is the La Cosa Nostra Railway #20042 (catalog #6-26834) - it even has a picture of Al Capone on it!
Lionel again teamed up with the LCCA several year later and, also using a PostWar mold, produced another limited edition; the, "Switching Tracks, From Our Rails to Your Rails" boxcar. In 2015 the LCCA announced that they would ship this car free to you. All you had to do was take a picture of it on your layout and then ship it back to them along with your picture. They paid for shipping both ways. A handful of these cars were sent to all LCCA members around the country that elected to participate. After a year of traveling these cars were put into a lottery - the winners were sent back one of them to keep. I was one of the lucky winners!
Modern era Lionel is also very creative with newly designed cars. In 2005 they produced the Bethlehem Steel Slag car and sold them in sets of three. These are heavy die-cast metal cars with a flickering slag load. Here are pictures of one of mine, #6-39428:
We can't forget about passenger cars. Some examples of my favorites:
During its PreWar period Lionel made beautiful tin, O Gauge passenger cars.
These examples below were made between 1938 and 1942 and came in 3 car sets.
I find both sets attractive:
Everyone remembers seeing at least pictures of PostWar Lionel's streamlined aluminum passenger cars being pulled by a beautiful set of red and silver "Warbonnet" Santa Fe F3 engines in a full A-B-A configuration!
Here are these great passenger cars; #2531 Silver Dawn Observation car, #2532 Silver Range Vista Dome car, #2533 Silver Cloud Pullman car and #2534 Silver Bluff Pullman car. There was also a#2530 Railway Express Agency Baggage car :
Modern era Lionel also made some real nice passenger cars with that PostWar feel that I like. My favorite examples are these "Madison" heavyweight cars from 1999 - 2000. Pennsylvania RR livery with tuscan paint, gold lettering and fine gold pinstripes. They made other Pennsy tuscan colored "Madison" cars but these were the only ones that came with the gold pinstripes. They came in a four car set consisting of a #6-29062 "Indian Point" baggage car, a #6-29263 "Christopher Columbus" coach, a #6-29064 "Andrew Jackson" coach and a #6-29065 "Broussard" observation car. I doubled up on a couple of these as shown in this picture:
It has become clear to me that picking favorite rolling stock examples from my collection was not as easy as I thought it would be. Look for parts 2 and 3 of this series in the near future.