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 ones alike!

But people always have questions, like are old model trains worth anything, what’s the most valuable model train in the world, and is that old model train sitting in my attic worth taking to Antique Roadshow? Well, the answer is maybe!

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 labor 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 one of the most valuable Lionel trains “The Brute” – the rarest model train that Lionel has ever produced. This rare Lionel train a one of a kind, and despite not selling, the owner is asking upwards of $500,000 for it. So the only reason it doesn’t take the lead as the most valuable Lionel trains of all time is just that it hasn’t been sold yet.

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?

The big question on everyone’s mind is “Are old model trains worth anything?”. Well, that depends on the age of that model train. An old vintage train set can be worth $100 or less, 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 the rarity of the production run, it’s 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 vintage 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 valuable 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.

32 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

      • Hi,
        My sister gave away the Lionel train my grandfather gave me (his childhood train, maybe circa 1905-10) and I really want to find one like it. It was electric, all black steel with the town. Really heavy. Do you have pictures? We’re both coming into money soon and I’m going to hit her up to replace it.

  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

  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

  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.

  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

  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

  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??

  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.

  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.

  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…


    • Hi!
      I’d be interested in that set! You should be able to get it appraised. Maybe Google the sets info along with appraisal.
      My sister gave away the 1910 set (mint in the box) without me knowing it, and we’re coming into money soon and she’s absolutely going to be replacing it! She doesn’t know that yet but…)
      So please contact me via email with pictures! Thanks so much!
      Kimberly Aikens
      [email protected]

  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…

  12. I have a Lionel Junior Electric Train Set-it’s marked with 1055 E on box. I believe it is a set #1061 with a Sunoco oil tanker; a caboose; and box car; along with the engine. we have the track and tried to get it to run, but we think the engine needs working on-it sparks and you can hear it’s on, but doesn’t run. I don’t know what year it is? The instructions to order a new head lamp is part 1927-3. I would like to know the date of this train-can the engine be repaired? Value? Thank you Karen Schneider

  13. I have an old train set. Weedon (locomotive, tender and passenger car and tracks). Steam driven and it works. Paint touched up with original colors. What’s it worth?

  14. Have an American Flyer 283 manufactured by AC Gilbert Co. (Under engineer window) Bought 1954-1957. No box. Can you give information about what it’s worth?

  15. In regards to the train in the attic by Don. We’re you able to find out anything on the train left by your father.?? What are the pieces you have? Number first

  16. I have an American Flyer set. One engine and three cars. There is a number 4039 on the engine. There is also a caboose with the number 4021. Everything is in god condition. Is there any value to the set?

  17. I have an American Flyer set. One engine and three cars. There is a number 4039 on the engine. There is also a caboose with the number 4021. Everything is in good condition. Is there any value to the set?

  18. I have two big boxes of ATLAS HO Snap Tracks and Custom Line HO turnout tracks, along with O.K. Streamline Passenger Cars. There is also the control boxes, etc. All in pristine condition. My grandmother’s very close friend passed them down to her before he passed away in the early 2000’s.

    Any idea of their worth? Has to be over 75 pieces of tracks, cars and out buildings.

  19. I have my husbands train collection I want to sell. It’s O & O27 gauge , accessory’s etc most are still in boxes.

  20. My father in-law just passed away and left us a lot of tri-ang railways trains just not sure what we have and what they are worth


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