During the company's early years it primarily built cars custom-ordered
for each particular streetcar system or interurban. However, this
changed in later years as St. Louis began cataloging its own line of cars
such as convertibles (which had panels that could be removed allowing
for open-air riding in the warmer months) and freight equipment for
interurbans. The latter was particularly true in the first decade of
the 20th century as the interurban industry began to take off providing
St. Louis, and all car builders at the time another market in which to sell their products.
Of course, it should be noted that in general, car manufacturers focused mostly on streetcar equipment as there was almost always a greater demand for such. The only time in which this was not the case was during the period around 1909. That year, some 1,245 power cars were constructed only for interurbans, which made up a full 50% of all built. However, as the industry began to decline 10 years later new orders quickly fell away and by 1920 interurban sales made up just 10% of all equipment built.
St. Louis Car built a wide range of cars during the 20th century, most of which as aforementioned centered around streetcars. However, the company also made handsome profits through the construction of the popular PCC streetcar (the Presidents' Conference Committee car) and the Birney Safety Car. Its most prominent design was the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee's streamlined Electroliner trainsets of 1941. These beautiful articulated cars remained in use on the North Shore Line for nearly 20 years before being retired and were one of the final orders placed by an interurban for new equipment.
As the streetcar and interurban industry died away by the 1940s St. Louis Car switched to building other equipment including buses, trolley buses, and even some automobiles. During World War II it built gliders, Alligators (also known as a Landing Vehicle
Tracked or LVT), and the flying boat seaplane. In 1960 the company was
purchased by General Steel Industries and during its final years in
business constructed subway and MU cars for agencies such as New York City Subway (NYCT), Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH), and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). With a shrinking market
and demand, the company finally closed its doors in 1973 after nearly
100 years of continuous production.
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