LA PCCs in Cairo: From Pampered to Pathetic
By Ralph Cantos
As the old saying goes, “ONE PHOTO IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS” — in this case, a split photo provided by Gary Starre.
When LA’s PCCs made their last runs in the wee hours of March 31, 1963, the PCC fleet as well as the ENTIRE physical plant (rail – overhead – substations) were in good to EXCELLENT condition. The infrastructure and the PCCs themselves had DECADES of service life remaining.
After “retirement”, the 164 PCCs languished in open but guarded storage (unlike the PE’s hapless double-enders) at Vernon Yard for almost two years. When the cars finally departed the USA for their “new life” in Cairo, Egypt, the cars were dirty, but otherwise in mint condition.
This photo, taken by John Engleman in 1975, shows the ravages of just 10 years “service” by suicidal kamikaze motormen that used the cars as rampaging battering rams through the streets of Cairo.
The results can clearly be seen. According to John, headlights along with the wings on the air cars, windshield wipers, and even anti-climbers were a rare sight, if seen at all. If the cars’ “blinker” doors stopped working, said doors were simply ripped off their hinges and heaved into the street by the moron at the controls.
The once beautiful PCCs, the pride of Los Angeles, never had a chance in Cairo’s fourth-world environment, and were gone in less than 15 years.
John Engleman Photo, Provided by Gary Starre, Ralph Cantos Collection