The largest and perhaps flashiest of Joshua Lionel Cowen's standard gauge electric locomotives wasn't the company's most expensive. That distinction belonged to the 2-motored 408E. But it was the 381E, based loosely on a 4-4-4 wheel arrangement, that has earned the distinction of being one of the most prized possessions that a pre-war tinplate era collector can own.
In fact, given the limited capabilities in the 1920s to faithfully recreate an accurate model of a real life prototype, the 381E did a fairly good job of impersonating a Milwaukee Road electric that ran over the mountainous stretches between Othello and Tacoma, Washington.
Returning in Lionel Corporation Tinplate badges and packaging, the 381E faithfully recreates the look and glossy colors found on pre-war tinplate two-tone state car green locomotives and rolling stock.
Though produced today, a user would be hard pressed to tell the difference between these modern classics and the originals of the past until, that is, one runs a Contemporary version equipped with Proto-Sound 3.0. No original 381E could ever run as smoothly or slowly and nor recreate the sounds of a real locomotive like these contemporary treasures. For those who prefer the classic rumble of an AC Bild-A-Loco motor and the ozone smell from a mechanical e-unit, the Traditional version is the choice for you.