When built, these special cars were seen as
replacements for the old-style automobile cars, which were much
more cumbersome to load and unload. CN had 25 75 foot cars built
in late 1956 (CN 570400-570424), and 50 more followed in early
1959 (CN 570425-570474), along with 75 56 foot cars (CN
570700-570774). In the late 1950s and into the early 1960s,
these cars were used extensively by CN to deliver newly built
cars, and were clearly marked “not to be interchanged off of CN
lines in Canada". When the industry opted for auto racks
instead, CN then acquired a large fleet of bilevel and trilevel
racks between 1962 and 1965, which rendered these unique bilevel
automobile cars surplus — it would appear that they did not mix
well with the newer autoracks, but likely worked in blocks in
service to specific points only. For example, an aerial photo of
Winnipeg’s East Yard taken in 1968 shows several of the 56 foot
cars at an unloading ramp.
As part of the 1960s CN renumbering, the 75 foot
cars were renumbered to CN 730000-730073 and the shorter cars to
CN 720000-720069, with some subsequently renumbered
720100-720139 in 1974-75.
During the 1960s, CN experimented with a number of
other uses for these cars: one was converted to a bilevel stock
car in 1965 (CN 179000, later CN 820000), and some of the 56
foot cars found themselves in a dedicated Oshawa, Ontario to
Newfoundland narrow gauge service in 1971 (as CN 15501-15509).
The following year, these dedicated cars were repainted in the
famous cutaway auto logo and assigned to Auto-With-You service
(CN 9500-9507), in which passengers could have their automobiles
travel with them on the same train. There was an earlier version
called Car-Go-Rail, in which the car would move by fast freight
to be delivered after the passenger train’s arrival. A number
of these 56 foot cars (including the stock car conversion) were
later converted in 1975 for auto rack service in Newfoundland
narrow gauge service (CN 18020-18034), and were heavily modified
with the complete removal of sides and roof above the upper
deck, and large holes cut in the sides of the lower deck. A few
surviving 56 foot cars were converted to OCS service in 1987, at
least one with large roll up doors cut into their sides (CN
72026 was the former CN 9503, still lettered with the cutaway
auto scheme), and some may remain on the roster today.
When Auto Train began operation, the longer 74 foot
cars were first leased, and subsequently sold to Auto Train – I
suspect the date of sale was in 1973, as CN continued to list
them in the ORER up until that point. Only 5 of these longer
cars were retained by CN.
CN modellers in HO scale have been spoiled over the
years: Walthers released the 1956 version some years ago,
Bachmann did the 1959 version many years ago as part of their
Auto Train set (albeit cruder and with hand brake recesses on
both sides of the car) – and did release a CN version, but with
the Auto-With-You cutaway paint that was only applied to the
shorter cars (Stafford Swain upgraded one of these cars which
was featured in a RMC Protofile feature back in the early
1980s); and Sylvan did the shorter 56 foot car in resin.
Unfortunately, none of these models is currently available.