Vintage Rail Inspection Cars: We Have A New Favourite Option for Long Distance Travel

Ridin' the Rails... in style!


Our good friend lilwillie sent in these awesome photos of vintage rail inspection cars. He suspected, as do I, that these might be popular with the Hoons. All I can think is that these vehicles seem to embody the spirit of the Redusernab pretty darn well.

An early Redusernab article, circa 1939.


Think about it; this is some pretty clever engineering, but it sits in that oh-so-desirable “sweet spot” that every Hoon admires. You know the one, somewhere right between a duct-taped kludge job and the most confusing, over-engineered solution BMW has hidden behind a dashboard. Where the solution is so involved, so intricate that you can’t help but admire, and yet so simple and elegant you wonder why everyone didn’t do this.
On top of that, the work was done on some darned classy metal. Here we have some pretty beautiful cars, even for their day. There is a Packard in there, several Buicks, a few Cadillacs; I know it’s hard to believe now, but back when these cars were new, those were considered high-end and luxurious cars! Now the rationale for turning large luxury cars into work vehicles like that is actually fairly obvious. In the early days of motoring, from the 1930s up until the 1950s, there simply weren’t the heavy-duty trucks available like there are now. You had the option of a large truck, like a Freightliner or a Kenworth today, or if that wouldn’t do, you modified a luxury car. The Cadillacs and Packards of the world were the vehicle of choice because the same features that made them luxurious for wealthy passengers also made them heavy-duty enough to take on work duties. It is for this reason that Cadillacs were so often used as ambulances, hearses and delivery vehicles. And now, apparently, rail inspection cars.
Now, never mind the actual work duties. There’s a certain brilliance and an elegant appeal to the very concept. Imagine, sitting in a large vintage luxury car that’s capable of speeds in excess of 70 mph on the rails. It would require virtually no input from the driver other than to push on the throttle, and knowing that, I would not be surprised if some sort of locking throttle mechanism was installed. Once that was taken care of, the car can virtually be left on its own. Imagine using a vehicle like this for your holiday travel! Instead of all the hassle of an airline, or all the potentially-fatal diseases of a Greyhound bus, you could take a private luxury car at high speeds across the country without having to worry about accidents or injuries, or fatigue from driving.
We are looking at the future, my friends. The first person to make a system like this that can work efficiently will be rich beyond their wildest dreams, mark my words.

By |2010-02-19T12:36:39+00:00February 19th, 2010|Redusernab|0 Comments

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