Rare Lionel 11737 TCA ABA Set Plus 9 Passenger Cars

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  • Item Category: Toys, Dolls, Games & Puzzles
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Nov 10, 2010
  • Channel: Auction House

Presented for auction is the stunning and extremely rare Lionel 11737 TCA 40th Anniversary ABA Diesel Set and all 9 of the TCA Annual matching Convention Car Passenger Cars. What makes this complete set so rare is that you had to buy the TCA ABA Diesel set in 1994 and then add each car made for the next 9 annual TCA Conventions. A lot of TCA members started to collect each car after the engines first came out in 1994, but never completed the set. Part of this was because originally, TCA had only planned to have 4 passenger cars made. However, when they came out with the "City of Providence" car in 1998, TCA announced that an additional car would be made in 1999 and possibly a new engine (which turned out to be an MTH ABA Alco set in colors to match the 40th anniversary cars). In 1999, TCA added a fifth car, the "City of San Francisco" baggage car, and announced that 2 more passenger cars would be made, extending the consist to 7 cars. But in 2002, TCA came out with an eighth passenger car in the 40th anniversary livery, the "City of Chicago" combine car. Finally in 2003, TCA came out with the "City of Los Angeles" Railway Post Office Car. The RPO car was described by TCA in its announcement of the 2003 convention cars as follows: "[t]his very special car has not been previously produced by Lionel and is the first of its kind. It is a handsome, extruded aluminum, lighted RPO car decorated in all respects like the previous cars in the series". It should be noted that Lionel did go on to produce other RPO cars. That was not the case though with the first car in the 40th anniversary series, the 52062 Skytop Observation car, which Lionel promised the TCA Lionel would never produce in other road names.
TCA describes this Skytop car as follows in its announcement of the 1995 TCA Convention Cars:
"This car was originally built by Pullman-Standard and introduced by the Milwaukee Road on the St. Paul to Seattle run in 1948. These cars were used by Union Pacific, Canadian National and Rio Grande. The Lionel Skytop is aluminum, with rear observation window and lighted hallway down one side of the car, with compartment room doors visible through the windows. On the compartment side of the car the windows show venetian blinds. Adult and childrens' figures are seated in the lounge area. Lionel has stated they will not bring this car out in other road names. This will be the only opportunity to purchase this unique Lionel car." A strange aspect of this car is a portrait of an individual which appears on an interior door as you look into the car from the drumhead. My guess is that it is a picture of Richard Kughn, then president of Lionel Trains, Inc. If anyone knows for sure who the individual in the portrait is, please let me know.
In 1995, after the Skytop Observation car was produced, TCA and Lionel jointly announced that since the F3 ABA shells did not match the color of the Skytop Observation car and the lettering on the car, Lionel was making available at no charge to TCA members new ABA engine shells so that the engines and cars would be an exact match. These shells had to be ordered by December 1, 1995 after which they could no longer be obtained by anyone. The ABA set included in this listing comes with the new matching shells.
The 11737 ABA Set and all 9 cars have been sold out for years as the only way one could get them originally was to order them through TCA. No Lionel dealers were ever able to sell these engines and cars. Now they are only available on the secondary market if they can be found. At the time of this listing none were available on ebay or though any reselling shops. Greenberg's pricing on the set totals over nearly $1,800 without including the 52274 RPO car. For reasons unknown to me, Greenberg's has never listed the 52274 car in any of its Lionel pocket price guides. Given the rarity of the 52274 car, if you add $200 to Greenberg's total for the ABA set and the other eight cars you come up with a figure of nearly $2,000 for the complete set. Three LCCA me...