The Marx 59 stock car is derived from the 555 refrigerator car. It ran from 1939 to 1952, and was essentially a refrigerated car/boxcar with different lithography and slightly revised tooling to put slats in the door and sides. Reusing an existing design with minor changes to make something that looked new and different was a hallmark of Marx, and one of the ways it produced variety in its product line while keeping prices down.
Slotted Marx 59 Union Pacific stock car
The rarer of the Marx 59 stock car variants has punched and folded slots in the sides to simulate the slats that make up the sides of real stock cars. This added additional steps to manufacturing, to punch and fold the slots, so it raised the production costs. Marx was all about hitting price points, so the slotted variant tended to show up in midpriced sets rather than entry level sets.
The design was brown and cream colored, with a road number of 59 and Union Pacific lettering along with an image of a longhorn steer. Union Pacific, being one of the largest of the western railroads, was a good choice for a stock car.
This variant lasted from 1939 to 1942 and was available on black frames with 4 and 8 wheels. Both tab and slot couplers and automatic couplers existed on the 8 wheel frames but the automatic couplers were the most common by far. This variant sells for more than a comparable unslotted variant because it is less common.
Unslotted Marx 59 Union Pacific stock car
The more common of the Marx 59 stock car variants has simulated slots printed in a cream color to simulate the slats in the sides of real stock cars. The lithography is the same, Marx just skipped the punching and folding. This version helped Marx hit lower price points. The door retained the punched openings.
The design was brown and cream colored, with a road number of 59 and Union Pacific lettering along with an image of a longhorn steer.
This variant lasted from 1939 to 1942 and resumed after the war, running from 1946 to 1954 as an encore. It was only available on black frames with 4 wheels. Both sliding tab and slot couplers for clockwork sets and riveted couplers for electric sets exist. In 1953, Marx switched to plastic knuckle couplers. This variant only ran for two years so it is somewhat scarcer but doesn’t command a significant price premium.
Occasionally a Marx 59 stock car turns up with a boxcar door. It can be hard to tell if it was a factory error, or if someone subbed in a boxcar door for a missing door after the fact. When these surface, some sellers try to get a premium for them. But unless they can prove it was a factory error, they don’t sell for a premium since they’re basically a Frankenstein car. Never pay more for one of these unless you can examine it in person, and look for marks on the tabs for signs that someone disassembled the car.