The Lionel 6457 caboose is a common and nearly iconic postwar Lionel car. It, or one of its close relatives, is probably the caboose you remember if you are into postwar-era Lionel.
The Lionel 6457
Even though it’s really sized for O27 track, the Lionel 6457 caboose, an SP type, replaced the earlier 2357 as the top of the line caboose that Lionel used in their premium sets in 1949.
It only had minor changes from the 2357. The most visible change is magnetic couplers replacing the coil couplers. The other change was the way the brakewheels connect to make assembly easier and less error prone. It has glazed windows, interior lighting, and underbody toolboxes. Lionel billed it as “fully equipped” in some of its descriptions.
Sometimes the difference between O and O27 was marketing, and the 6457 is an example of this.
In spite of coming out in 1949, it has a 1947 build date on the body. That’s because the 2357 came out in 1947, and it used the same mold.
The 6457 caboose features the Lionel “L” imprint inside two concentric circles was inscribed on the sides above the number 6457. Additionally, the word LIONEL appears below the two front windows. Other cabooses of this style frequently have the letters SP in place of the Lionel logo.
Variations of the 6457
There are four variations of this specific caboose:
- Brown painted body, brown plastic stack, 1949 only
- Brown painted body, brown die-cast stack, 1949 only
- Glossy brown painted body, black die-cast stack, the most common version
- Maroon painted body, black die-cast stack, also common
You may know the last variation as the 6457-25, from the printing on the box. The first three variations have staple-end trucks. The last has bar-end trucks. Being top of the line offerings, all versions of the 6457 came with magnetic couplers, ladders, brake wheels and tool boxes. Lionel stopped making the 6457 ceased in 1952, though the same basic design endured for the rest of the postwar era and beyond.
Cheaper versions of the SP type caboose generally came without adornments like the toolboxes, may omit the smokestack, used molded plastic instead of paint, and may not have been lighted.
Lionel cabooses aren’t especially rare or valuable in most cases. The 6457 holds fast to that rule. Common examples typically sell for $10-$20 loose and in nice but not absolutely pristine condition. To get much more than $20, it will probably need its original box, and/or be one of the earlier variants from 1949.