lead photo copyright © James McAuliffe; used by permission.

The autorack freight car was created to transport automobiles, including cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans by rail. They are also called "auto carriers". In the early 1900s when new automobiles needed to be moved in quantity, railroads used box cars to transport them. Various methods were used over the years to come up with ways to efficiently and safely transport them in box cars.

It was actually the circuses that introduced the concept of using long flat cars with temporary ramps put in between the cars to load and unload their vehicles. It was a natural extension for railroads to use that concept, but add one or two decks above the cars' main deck to create the autoracks starting in the 1950s. Older versions were completely open to the elements, but with the onset of grafitti and vandalism, today's autoracks are completely covered.

There are four types of autoracks, namely "AutoMax", which offers adjustable, up-to-three decks to accommodate vehicles of different heights, "bi-level", which has two fixed decks to transport up to 10 vehicles, "tri-level", which has three decks that can transport up to 15 sedan-style automobiles, and "uni-level", which is a single-deck version that is used for transporting such items as farm equipment, tractor-trailers, RVs, and buses, and can hold up to 4 vehicles.

An interesting aside is the GM Vert-A-Pac car, introduced in 1970, which was specifically designed to carry the Chevrolet Vega automobiles. While a regular tri-level car could hold 18 Vegas, the Vert-A-Pac could hold 30. The Vega was specifically designed to be stored vertically. These only lasted for as long as the Vega lasted, which was 1977.

Trailer Train Company (TTX) is a company that was co-created by the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Norfolk & Western Railway to manufacture the specially-built autoracks that we see today. They are long cars, measuring 90 feet over strikers, and will require broad curves.

Below are links to the various reports that show all of the S-scale autoracks ever produced. Click whichever report gets you to the information that wish to find.

Contact person: Webmaster

  1. By Model Manufacturer
    Entries are sorted by manufacturer, and then by road name.
  2. By Model Manufacturer ID
    Entries are sorted by manufacturer, and then by the company's product ID. This report is handy if you know the manufacturer and the product ID.
    This report is limited to entries that have a known manufacturer ID set.
  3. By Road Name
    Entries are sorted by road name, and then by model manufacturer.
  4. By Gauge
    Entries are sorted by wheel gauge, and then by manufacturer. The final pages have the entries sorted by the autoracks' road names.
  5. By Model Introduction Year
    Entries are sorted by the year the model was made publicly available, and then by the model's manufacturer.
    This report is limited to entries for which the model introduction year is known.
  6. By Material
    Entries are sorted by the dominant material from which the model (especially its body) is made, and then by manufacturer.
    This report is limited to entries for which the dominant material is known.
  7. By Photo
    A mini photo album of sorts, this report shows the primary photo for each entry. Click on a photo to see that model's details and possible additional photos. The photos are sorted by road name, road number, and then by manufacturer.
    This report is limited to entries that have at least one photo set.
  8. All Entries
    This report lists all entries in one page, then click on an entry to see its model information.
  9. All Entries (text only)
    Entries are sorted by model manufacturer, road name, and road number, all on one page (no details, no photos). This is handy for when you just want a basic list of what has been produced.
  10. Downloadable Text File
    Entries are sorted by model manufacturer, manufacturer ID, road name, road number, gauge, model year, product type, and finish. Note: To import or open this file in a spreadsheet software application, use the hat, ^, character as the column separator (see the "6" key of your keyboard). Most spreadsheet applications will let you pick the separator or delimiter; if not, open the file with a text editor and replace all "^" with a character of your choice, and then try it again.

Report Definitions


  • AF:
    for models that come only with A.C. Gilbert-style wheels and couplers.
  • S:
    for standard-gauge (4'8-1/2") models that come with either no wheels and couplers, with scale wheels and/or couplers, or have scale wheels and couplers included in the package.
  • Sn3, Sn2, Sn42:
    for the various narrow-gauge rail spacings.

road name

The railroad name (prototype or freelance/fictional) for which the model was decorated by the factory, or for which the model was specifically designed if undecorated.

Additional External References

The Union Pacific's Autoracks

The History of Autoracks

More History and Photos of Autoracks

Product Gallery