The R-32 was the New York's first mass-produced, stainless steel subway car. After years of trying and two sets of experimental prototypes, the Budd Company, which had pioneered stainless steel trains in the 1930s, won a bid to deliver 600 all-stainless cars in 1964-65.
Despite higher initial cost, the advantages of stainless construction were obvious: a stainless steel car offered lower weight for the same structural strength, didn't need painting, and was nearly impervious to the rust and corrosion that plagued normal high-strength steel. When delivered, the R-32s were the hot rods of the New York subways. With basically the same mechanical and electrical gear as previous cars but 5 tons less weight, they ran fast and accelerated like jackrabbits. And to seal the deal, Budd had given up the usual price premium for stainless constuction to get its foot in the door with the New York subway system.
Dubbed Brightliners for their gleaming exteriors, the R-32s were introduced to the public at Grand Central Terminal on September 9, 1964, in a ceremony complete with a 20-piece marching band. Riders loved the shiny cars with their brightly lit blue interiors and contoured fiberglass seats, as did operators, who enjoyed their performance, and maintenance crews, who cited the durability and craftsmanship characteristic of Budd products. The 60' cars, which ran in married pairs, were sized for the subway's BMT and IND lines (as opposed to the IRT lines, which have tighter clearances and require smaller cars).
The durability of the R-32s, however, has been something of a mixed blessing for New York commuters. Budd was the only company to build all-stainless cars, as its patented Shotweld electric welding process allowed it to fabricate an all-stainless body. Other car builders, unable to weld stainless steel, used a stainless steel exterior riveted to ordinary, rust-prone steel. As a result, five non-Budd classes of New York subways built after the R-32s came and went, while the R-32s soldiered on. Although many R-32s have been retired, the 200 or so remaining cars are today the oldest operating cars in New York and among the oldest in the world. Despite two major overhaul programs, their aging mechanical and electrical systems make them the least dependable cars in the city, much to the chagrin of riders on the C and J/Z lines - who were recently told they may be riding these 1960s cars into 2022 before the last of their replacements arrive.
Like all M.T.H. Proto-Sound 2.0 and 3.0 subways, the R-32 features Station Stop Proto-Effects, allowing you to program the train to stop automatically at designated station stops, even in Conventional Mode. When configured to run on automatic, the R-32 stops itself at locations you define and calls out station names that you select in advance; the train essentially runs itself. And when you program the R-32 for an out-and-back route, it even reverses itself and heads back downtown when it reaches the end of the line - stopping along the way at each station to broadcast the name of the stop and the hustle and bustle of passengers coming and going.