Bob Chaparro wrote:
"I picked-up a Walthers forty-foot SP gondola, stock # 932-3805. The very low price, replacement sill steps, replacement metal wheels and good weathering job were the selling points. Walthers no longer offers this car.
So, given that it is a Walthers model, is there any chance this car is based on or reasonably close to an actual prototype?"
Not really. It's coincidentally close to some C&EI cars - do a search on "C&EI gons" in the group archives for the posts.
"And is the model original to Walthers or did another firm sell the original tooling to them?"
Not original to Walthers and not in the Train-Miniature line. This 7-side post steel gon with dreadnaught ends has been offered by many manufacturers over the years, starting with Varney c. 1955, subsequently offered by Life-Like, with a close copy in AHM's line. Cox tooled a copy of this car with slightly different side posts and ends, and this model ended up with Bachmann. Not sure whose tooling ended up with Walthers.
As old tooling goes, this model isn't that outlandish. The ends are a bit crude, but the model is certainly plausible. It's too bad that the number of prototypes don't match the numbers of these models sold over the past 55+ years.