Marx 553 tank car

Last Updated on February 9, 2023 by Dave Farquhar

The Marx 553 tanker was Marx’s longest running 6-inch tank car, running from way back in 1935 to 1956. It came in three major variants, one on each side of World War II, and one spanning the two eras by a few years.

Yellow Marx 553 tank car

yellow Marx 553 tank car
The yellow tank on the earliest Marx 553 tank car wasn’t at all realistic but it was eye catching.

The earliest of the variants has a glossy yellow tank with black lettering. It’s lettered Santa Fe, for the ATSF railroad, and Middle States Oil. The Santa Fe merged into the Burlington Northern to become what we know today as the BNSF Railway. Marx also produced a successful Santa Fe diesel set, but it’s larger than the 6 inch cars.

This variant lasted from 1935 to 1937 and was available on plain black frames and black frames with lithographed details. It would have looked good on a red frame car, but if you find one that way, it’s not original.

Marx Silver Santa Fe 553 tank car

Marx 553 Santa Fe tanker
The silver tank on the earliest Marx 553 tank car still had exaggerated detail but was less garish.

The most common of the Marx 553 variants has a silver tank with black lettering and a red Santa Fe logo. This car came on lots of different frames, from the common black frame to the red lithographed frame, the silver frame, and the 8 wheel frame with both types of couplers.

The design was still very similar to the earlier version, just changing the base color and putting the herald in an accent color. It may have been a bit more expensive to print but by then Marx was selling trains in huge enough volume that it was worth it.

This type ran from 1937 to 1953, with minor variants, none of them especially rare.

Marx Silver Union Tank Car Co. 553 tanker

Marx 553 Union Tank Car
The last 553 variant updated the design to something more contemporary for the mid 1950s.

The last of the Marx 553 variants has a silver tank with black lettering and red lettering, lettered for the Union Tank Car Company, though retaining the number 553. The Union Tank Car Company still exists today, leasing tank cars to companies who don’t own their own tank cars for whatever reason.

This type ran from 1953 to 1956, when it dropped from the Marx catalogs, though it may have remained in production a while longer. It’s more common than the green Sinclair tankers but nowhere near as common as the earlier 553 tanker.

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