In an attempt to bring a modern look to one of the world's oldest subway systems, the New York City Transit Authority hired Raymond Loewy to design a new order of cars in the late 1960s. One of the giants of 20th century industrial design, Loewy was responsible for the look of Coke's vending machines, Air Force One's paint scheme, the Shell Oil logo, the Studebake Avanti, and countless projects for the Pennsylvania Railroad, including the GG1 and the 1938 Fleet of Modernism. The R-40 subway, however, was one of his flops.
To give the new stainless steel cars an exciting look, Loewy's firm designed a molded fiberglass end cap with a 15-degree slant. Apparently no one thought to test the design before it went into production, and the new cars entered service on the F line's 6th Avenue Local on March 23, 1968. By early April, it became apparent that the slant ends presented a great danger to passengers walking from car to car, because they had to cross a large gap with nothing to hold onto. The Transit Authority's initial solution was to lock the end doors of all the R-40 cars, which traveled in married pairs with a slant end at each end of the pair. Within months, the cars were retrofitted with elaborate pantograph gates on the slant ends, which effectively destroyed Loewy's rakish design but allowed passengers to wander from car to car in safety. The final 100 cars of the 400-car R-40 order were then redesigned as R-40M (for "Modified") cars with a standard flat end. Built by St. Louis Car Company, the 60-foot R-40s and R-40Ms remained in service until 2009.
Our full-scale models of these unique New York cars return to the Premier lineup for 2019, with a plated finish that accurately replicates the prototype's stainless steel exterior.