Marx 555 refrigerator car

The Marx 555 refrigerator car was Marx’s longest running 6-inch refrigerator car, running from way back in 1935 to 1952 when Marx refreshed the line. Marx reused the same refrigerated car design on its boxcars, and several boxcar designs continued after 1952.

Yellow Marx 91453 refrigerator car

Marx 91453 reefer
The earliest yellow version had a catalog number of 555, but it doesn’t appear on the car.

The earliest of the variants has a glossy yellow body with black lettering and a road number of 91453 printed on the door. It’s lettered Colorado & Southern R.R., a western Class 1 railroad that originated in 1898. It became part of the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1981. It’s still a 555, as that was its catalog number, although the number 555 doesn’t appear on the car like it does on later variants.

The design was simple, with exaggerated rivet detail and printed detail in the right places on the car, but sometimes illegible.

This variant lasted from 1935 to 1937 and was available on plain black frames and black frames with lithographed details. It would probably look good on a red frame car, with the contrast between two primary colors, but if you find one that way, it’s not original.

Marx blue and cream Colorado & Southern 555 refrigerator car

Marx 555 refrigerator car blue roof
The version with the blue roof is perhaps the most widespread and easiest to find. It’s a more colorful version of the yellow predecessor.

The most common of the Marx 555 variants has a blue and cream body with a prominent red Colorado & Southern herald and blue lettering. 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 1952, with minor variants. The most sought after variant has an image of a man inside the door, unloading cargo, often referred to as the “man in the door” variant.

The 555 Man in the Door

Marx 555 man in door
The man in the door design on some 555s was a cost reduction measure, but it’s scarce and valuable today.

Most 555 reefer cars had door that opens and closes, allowing operators to place a load in the car if they wished. The scarce Man in the Door variant omitted the operating door. With no door or guides and no holes to punch, this version was cheaper to make, since it was a single piece of metal and easier to form and assemble. To add visual interest, Marx’s graphic artist drew in an open door with a man moving cargo around inside the car.

The 555 variants with the man in the door design sell for significantly more than the other versions and are much harder to find. They were probably less interesting to play with when they were new, but they are much more scarce today.

Marx red and cream Colorado & Southern 555 refrigerator car

Marx 555 refrigerator red roof
The red roof variant just involved switching the ink colors on the same printing plates.

Marx also reversed the accent colors, using red for the roof and lettering and a blue Colorado & Southern herald. This car came on a more limited selection of frames, from the common black frame to the red lithographed frame, the silver frame, and a black 8 wheel frame with the one-way couplers. Marx did a similar reversal on the 554 hopper cars as well.

The design with the red roof is a little bit harder to find than the one with a blue roof and most Marx experts believe it was limited from 1937 to 1942, and didn’t resume after World War II. There is a man in the door variant of the red roof car.

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