Style & Culture
Sun Aug 04 2013 15:21:16 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
“It Corners Like It’s on Rails” – A Special 1955 Buick Special:
We can’t say for sure who first equipped road-going automobiles with railroad wheels for use as track inspection cars, but these shots of a Pierce-Arrow and a Chrysler Imperial from The Old Motor show that the idea went back quite some time. Their primary purpose was to allow supervisors and executives to travel the right of way to spot potential problems on the line in a way that didn’t tie up a locomotive and crew, who would otherwise be at work generating revenue for the railroad.
The two examples in the above links are typical of the early vehicles of this type that were built in the company shops. However, their design limited them to use on rails only. When companies like Evans introduced retractable wheel sets in the mid-1930′s like the ones on this Buick that allowed highway and rail travel, it didn’t take long for railroad management to recognize the benefit of this versatility and adapt them to both inspection and maintenance vehicles. Photo courtesy of the Benjamin Ames Collection .