The Marx Sinclair tanker was a refresh of the earlier and more common Marx 553 Middle States Oil tanker, a design that originated way back in 1935. The Sinclair tanker made the old design book newer, and perhaps more relevant for its era. It came in two major variants, one much easier to find than the other. It dates to 1956 and 1957.
What was Sinclair?
Sinclair was a familiar gas station with an iconic dinosaur mascot. It ceased to exist as an independent company in 2022. But the name would have been familiar and recognizable to most of the audience for this car at the time. In the mid 1950s, Sinclair was in the top 25 of the Fortune 500.
It bore no relation to the British computer company of the 1980s.
Black Marx Sinclair tank car #19847
The more common of the two O27 six inch variants has a glossy black tank with lettering. The white probably was never pure white, but the varnish that Marx used can develop a bit of a patina, giving the car a bit of an aged look. That doesn’t bother me, as these cars are nearly 70 years old at this point.
The design is a bit more ambitious than the 553 that preceded it, with slightly more prototypical looking lettering and a more prototypical road number of 19847, but still retaining the pleasing proportions of the rest of the product line. The design clearly took inspiration from Marx’s HO scale Sinclair tanker from the same time period. The road number on the HO scale car was 3827.
Since Marx only made it for two years, this car is harder to find than the 553 tanker but not rare. You can find one for around $20.
Marx Green Sinclair tank car #19847
The other variant had a green tank, similar in color to Sinclair’s color scheme on its stations. From what I understand from veteran Marx collectors, it wasn’t until the 1980s or possibly even the 1990s that everyone realized this variant was rarer. The lettering and numbering is identical to the black variant, with only the color differing.
American Flyer made a green Sinclair tank car in the 1930s. This car is a bit longer than a 6-in Marx car, and the styling is slightly different. But the designs are similar enough that sometimes people will confuse the two.
I spotted the Flyer tank car at a train show more than a decade ago, and had to get a closer look to see which version it was. I couldn’t quite tell for certain from across the room. I bought it, because I also like American Flyer. I did eventually track down a green Marx Sinclair tank car, but it took me a while.
Expect to pay closer to $50 for the green variant when you find one, depending on condition.