Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel Prewar 603 /604, 607/608 and 609/611 Passenger cars 1926-1940

The 607 passenger car and the matching 608 observation were introduced in 1926 and cataloged through 1937.

The 603 and 604 were introduced in 1931 and cataloged through 1936. The 603, 604 use the same bodies, but do not have lights. Earlier cars have two air tanks on the bottom. The earliest air tanks have brass end caps- found only on peacock cars- otherwise the end caps are nickel. Cars made after about 1935 have a single fishbelly on the bottom. Uncataloged cars have no air tanks or fishbellies.

The 609, 611 cars are uncataloged cars and were made from 1935 onward.

Unless otherwise noted these were three car sets. Two car sets have a Pullman and an Observation; three car sets have two Pullmans and an Observation. When these cars came with electric outline engines the engine is usually the same color as the cars. As always, cars are shown in order of production, with the earlier colored cars first.

The 607 and 608:

Peacock, orange inserts. The peacock car comes with brass or nickel air tank ends (brass is harder to find) and with Lionel Lines or Illinois Central lettering over the windows. The Lionel Lines is much more common. Came in sets with the 252 and 253 electric’s and also with the 258 and 262 steam engines. 1926-1931

Maroon, cream inserts. Uncataloged special lettered Macy Special on sign board in stead of Pullman. These cars can also be found without the Macy Special lettering. Came in sets with a Maroon 252. Circa 1930 or 1931.

Stephan Girard green, dark green, cream. Came in sets with the 253 or 253E electric or the 261/261E steam engine. 1931-1934

Stephan Girard green, dark green, cream. These cars have fishbellies instead of the air tanks on the cars above. Fishbellies are harder to find. Cars with fishbellies can be found with brass or nickel observation railing. Nickel is harder to find. 1935. These cars can also be found lettered 603 and 604 without lights.

Light red, cream. Uncataloged. Came in sets with a 261E locomotive. Circa 1934 or 1935. Red cars were also made in a darker red with a brass railing and came with a dark gray 253 in approximately 1930. Not shown.

Rarity. The Maroon cars are the hardest to find. Followed closely by the red cars. The Peacock cars with Illinois lettering may be the hardest 607 to find but because they are the same as the very common Lionel Lines cars little attention is paid to them.

The 603 and 604:

Red, black, cream. These cars have air tanks. Compare with cars shown below. Came in two car sets with the 262 steamer and in two or three car sets with the 259 or 259E steam engine. 1931-1934

Red, black , cream. NO air tanks. Uncataloged. Made after 1933- possibly in 1935. Body can be found with slots for air tank or fishbelly. I do not know what engine(s) came with these cars.

Yellow-orange, terra cotta, cream. Came in sets with the 258 steamer and with the 252 in 1931-1934

Light red, white. Part of the red comet set with the 264E locomotive. The first year sets cars have air tanks (not shown and harder to find) or fishbellies and a 261t tender. Later sets came with a came with a 265T or W (W means the tender has a whistle.) These sets came with a type L transformer painted in a matching red. This was the first time Lionel painted a transformer to match a train- and would note be done again until 1957 with the Girl’s train. This was the only O gauge cataloged train set to come with a transformer. The set sold for $13.50 with transformer (set # 278E) or for $10.95 without transformer set # 268E). The type L transformer sold for $2.75 by itself so this was a pretty good deal. The transformers are actually harder to find than the train sets. Perhaps the public did not buy the sets with the transformer; because, in 1936, the set was not offered with a transformer. Cataloged as set # 291E or 291W in 1936 for $10.95 without whistle or $14.50 with whistle. The first year set with the 261T tender is harder to find than the 1936 set. The Red Comet is a very popular train even today.

Note shown: 603, 604 Stephan Girard green, dark green, cream with fishbellies and nickel observation railing. Uncataloged 1935 or 1936. The unlighted two tone green cars are the hardest 603, 604 cars to find. The red comet cars are more desirable though.

The 609 and 611:

Blue, Aluminum. Uncataloged 1937-1940? While uncataloged these cars are actually quite common. They are hard to find with nice paint though. The aluminum roofs do not stand up well to cleaning. These cars came in sets with the 204, 249, late 258, 259, 264 and possibly with other steam engines.

Lionel must have made lots of these cars because they are found in set boxes from a variety of stores. From small local hardware stores to Sears. These cars can be found with slots for air tanks or fishbellies. Some sets have cars with both types of bodies. These cars have no journals but journals could easily be added. They do have interior lights though.