Four of our 2025 Calendars are now in stock: Santa Fe, BNSF, Union Pacific and Rio Grande. The other two, CSX and NS, will follow in the next couple of months.

THE BIG RED CARS/Strapac

Default Title: $59.95 USD

The Harriman Associated Lines, particularly the SP, were pioneers in developing all-steel passenger cars. With a staff of creative engineers, competing for engineering leadership with car builders and locomotive works was possible. In 1909, it was decided to build a comprehensive electric commuter rail system in the Oakland-Alameda-Berkeley (“East Bay”) area, operating the trains with the most modern, energy-efficient railcars.

SP got a heavy-duty, electrified commuter railroad for its money, though passenger luxury was missing from the shopping list. Most came with 3-2 seating, no heaters and no dining or lounge cars—as plain vanilla as possible. A few more from Pullman and St. Louis were added later, while the Northwestern Pacific bought nineteen third-rail copies. Some cars were converted from combine to coaches, and some trailers were motorized.

These cars served Bay Area commuters until the SP and NWP electric railroads were abandoned in 1941. With the onset of World War II, more than seventy cars found new homes in southern California’s Pacific Electric to deliver shipyard workers, where they were known as “Blimps.” The PE operated them until 1953, when passenger service was sold to Metropolitan Coach Lines. In 1958, the local government took over, finally abandoning the trains in 1961.

With 335 pages and over 500 pictures, maps and drawings, this book is the first comprehensive study of this subject to appear in decades. Fifty years of photographic images are presented. Hardcover, 8½” x 11″ portrait with dust jacket, 335 pages (32 in color).

Retail Price $69.95, hardcover, 335 pages, color and B&W pictures. SKU: REDCARS. Posted December 25, 2023.