The Most valuable model trains in the world!

Model trains are known for the fact that they can fetch a pretty penny, both new models and old alike!

New model trains can run you anywhere from $50 right up to $1000 depending on what you’re willing to spend. Old model trains, or ones that have history attached to them, can set you back tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That’s just for the train, not the whole layout either!

In fact, there’s the Roadside America model train layout in Pennsylvania that has cost millions to build based on estimates, although no exact figure is available. This clearly goes to show that model trains are not just a simple hobby to some people.

They are a labour of love and a huge investment more often than not (but if you want something more accessible to beginners, see our Trains for Beginners post).

But what really matters is that they are worth the effort and the journey, and that alone is what makes this entire experience a great one!

Now let’s take a look at the most expensive train and layout in the world!


What is the most expensive model train in the world?

When it comes to the most expensive model train that’s ever been sold, it has to be the Lionel Standard Gauge Set from 1934 – a Mint-in-the-Box train set with a 400E Engine & State Passenger Cars that sold for around $250,000 at auction.

Having a single model train sell at this price is nothing short of extraordinary, and it really goes to show the incredible value and quality that some of these trains can bring to the table.

Another honorable mention should go to the Lionel train “The Brute” – the rarest model train that Lionel has ever produced. It’s a one of a kind, and despite not selling, the owner is asking upwards of $500,000 for it.

It’s certainly unique, different and it shows just how much money some people are willing to invest into their passion.

most expensive model train

What is the most expensive model train layout ever built?

Miniature Wonderland, Germany: $12.12 million is the one that will come to mind right away. The layout is huge, it covers around 8.08 miles of track, it has 14,450 wagons and also over 1000 trains.

That’s spectacular, and you can see why something as large as that could cost so much in the first place. There are model train layouts that cost millions of dollars like the Seiffert Road layout in Oregon at $3.5 million, but even that massive one pales in comparison with to the one in Germany. It’s an absolutely gorgeous layout and well worth the trip to visit if you’re ever on that side of the world!


What are most old model trains worth?

That depends on the age of that model train. An old model train can be worth $100 or less, but it can also be worth $10,000 or sometimes even a bit more.

It all comes down to the manufacturer, the state that the train is in and other factors like rarity of production run, features etc. The easiest way to work it out is to just search for your model train on places like Ebay, ask in forums, or even take it to an auction house if you’re serious about selling and let them do the work for you.

While some trains can be worth an eye-watering amount, at the end of the day what really matters is that there are a plethora of model trains to choose from and the hobby is available to everyone no matter the price point.  But if you want some of the very old model trains, you have to pay up.


What makes a model train worth money?

Usually, the rarity of that piece will drive a lot of value, a lot of companies like Lionel only made small production runs in their early days. When it comes to model trains in general, what makes them worth money is the technology they are using, as well as the quality that they’re still in. The reason the Standard Gauge set from Lionel is worth so much is because it’s basically new in the box. Most expensive model trains are also quite accurate representations of regular trains and most of them tend to have great craftsmanship and care taken in producing them.


Overall, we found that there are plenty of model trains that can be worth a decent amount of money. How much they cost however, totally depends on the manufacturer, state and quality.

If you’d like to find some more model trains that are slightly less staggering in price, take a look at our electric train posts here! Or if you’re just getting into model trains, take a look at our Ultimate Model Train Guide here.

16 thoughts on “The Most valuable model trains in the world!”

  1. Hi Peter, my name is Rob, my dad recently passed and he was a train enthusiast. He had a large collection of HO brass locomotives , (40+) Im looking for an appraiser in the Ontario ,Canada area.
    Thx Rob

    Reply
  2. Hi I have a train set the train blows smoke I have the hole set I got it because my dad died I just wanted to know what it might be worth today’s i have the set complete one back in 1989 or maybe early

    Reply
  3. Hi Peter,

    I have a model passenger car. I was told my grandfather made it. wanting to get an appraisal of it, in the northeast Ohio region.
    Thank you, Lorie

    Reply
  4. My oldest set is a Lionel Lines passenger set 1668E. It contains a tender and three passenger metal cars.
    Interested model train enthusiastics please reply.

    Reply
  5. Hi I have a 1953 Lionel
    I have a 1953 Lionel train can any one tell me we’re to call in Michigan to have someone look at it for me to tell a value on it . Thank you

    Reply
  6. I have an old model train (late 40s to early 50s) 5 plastic cars 2 metal locomotives a depot a agent comes out when train goes by track in poor condition. Any idea of values

    Reply
  7. Have a 1957 lionel Majestic Berkshire # 736.Great condition,runs great.Multible cars.tinder,rocket launcher,floodlight car, road scraper,submarine car,caboose,weapon car w/gun on top,etc. What’s it worth??

    Reply
  8. Posted: 20-05-21
    I have a model train set “AMERICAN EXPRESS” given to me by my dad back in 1958, I was 9 yrs old. He worked worked with the Americans in Carol Lake, Labrador. Train is in good shape may need some minor work it’s been years since I had it out of the box.

    Reply
  9. My brother in laws brother passed away and left a big collection of trains on tracks. I dont know what model they are and I would like them appraised. Please get in touch if you are interested.

    Reply
  10. My father gave me his train set from when he was a kid, it’s has to be over 100 yr’s old, it’s been in my attic for years. at least 3 engines, transformers, lots of track, and railroad cars, cast iron people, crossing gate, just a few of the things I remember as a kid…
    Any ideas on where I might take all this for an appraisal, it’s all just sitting up there in need of some TLC…

    Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Hello, I have the lionel Amtrak 516 engine with 5 and half feet of 3 rail tracking. I also have the control lever and transformer along with lionel and rail king trackside model accessories. All of these items are new and like new and still in their original packaging. If anyone would like to negotiate a price, feel free to call or text Darron at 205-249-3220 or email, but I’d perfer call or text and leave a message. Thanks…

    Reply

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