Pacific Electric's 500-Class Cars

New Book - Now Shipping! 



This new book from author John Smatlak tells the complete story of Pacific Electric’s pioneering 500-class “Red Cars”, PE’s first new interurban cars. 108 pages illustrated with over 120 photographs, many never before published.

Pacific Electric was the world’s largest interurban electric railway system, blanketing the Los Angeles region with more than 1,000 miles of rail lines. The 500-class cars were the company’s first new interurbans, purchased beginning in 1901. The “Fives” opened many of PE’s early interurban routes and served the system into the 1930s.

The new book tells the complete story of this pioneering class of “Red Cars”, covering all three sub-classes from their beginnings at the turn of the century, through preservation and restoration in the 2000s. The story of the two full-size operating replica 500s built in 2003 for the Port of Los Angeles is also included. An exhaustive selection of photographs, drawings and historical documents have been assembled to tell this fascinating story, providing coverage that will please a wide variety of readers.

Chapter 1- Old PE Days 1902-1911

Chapter 2- Post-Merger 500s and the 550s

Chapter 3- Retirement and Preservation

Chapter 4- Replica 500s and the Future


Published by Shade Tree Books, B&W with color covers $30.95

Available at your favorite railway museum bookstore or hobby retailer (dealer inquiries invited) or to purchase an autographed copy direct please contact John Smatlak: (818) 704-5671. $30.95 each, shipping to USA $4.90 Priority Mail (up to 3 copies, contact us for larger orders). California residents add 9.75% sales tax.

 A portion of the sales from this book supports the Build it Now! Library Capital Campaign at the Orange Empire Railway Museum


Excerpt (low-res pdf) Back Cover

Press Release



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