The Hollywood Car Assignment Puzzle

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

Pacific Electric’s 160 Hollywood cars served the Railway above and beyond all expectations on the far-flung system. Except for the Northern Districts, San Bernardino Line, and the Southern Districts (Santa Ana, San Pedro, Catalina, and Long Beach Lines), the Hollywood cars roamed the PE rail system like a band of nomads.

As far and wide as the Hollywood cars roomed, there was ORDER to their diverse assignments, especially after World War II. The PE seemed to assign “blocks” of sequentially numbered cars to specific lines. Although there may have been exceptions, Hollywood car assignment seemed to go as follows, from what I have observed from years of photo research.

Cars 5050 through 5099 along with cars 732 to 759 were fixtures of the Northern District until abandonment on 9-31-51. After that date, most cars numbered from 5050 to 5099 entered a premature retirement.

  • Cars 732 to 759 were sold to Buenos Aires.
  • Cars 5100 to 5129 were assigned to the WATTS Line.
  • Cars 5130 to 5144 were given to the Santa Monica Blvd Line.
  • Cars 5145 to 5168 were pooled on the Hollywood Blvd and Burbank Lines.

After the Santa Monica Blvd. line abandonment, cars 5130 to 5144 were not seen in service very much, if at all.

THEN THERE WAS THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY line with cars 5169 to 5181 regularly assigned. With the December 1952 abandonment of the SFV line, cars 5169 to 5181, the cream of the crop, basically vanished from service. That left cars 5145 to 5168 serving the Wests last two lines.

With the September 1954 abandonment of Hollywood Blvd. line , cars 5140 to 5153 were done. That left cars 5154 to 5168 serving with the PCCs on the Burbank Line.

Cars 5174 to 5181, were renumbered into various 5050 numbers to fill in the gaps left by the eight cars sold to Portland.

For reasons known only to the PE management, cars 5169 to 5181 were never seen again in service after the SFV line abandonment. The eight renumbered cars along with 5169 to 5173 were basically finished. The last 15 Hollywood cars assigned to the Burbank line were retired with that lines June 1955 abandonment. Two cars, 5166 and 5167 were transferred to the Watts line to bolster up that lines dwindling roster of serviceable cars.

And so in the nine years from 1950 to late 1959, the once great fleet of 160 Hollywood cars was whittled away, car by car, line by line, until the last nine battered and beaten cars serving the Watts line finally gave up the ghost. Five of the last nine cars were went to OERM with one car MTA #1805 being dismantled for parts.

Amazingly, two of the earliest Hollywood cars built wound up being the last to survive.

In this photo, car #5180, the former #730, is seen here at the Barham Boulevard stop in the last days of the SFV line, In just a few months, it will be renumbered II-5078 and vanish.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Recent Posts
Showing 7 comments
  • Ted Thompson

    Roamed, not roomed.

    • Pacific Electric

      Thanks, Ted! We try to catch them all, but can’t. – Ed.

  • Bob Davis

    PE 680 became Portland 4022, and upon closure of that operation, was sold to a private party, who stored it in (as I recall) Woodburn, Oregon. In the 1990s, it left Oregon and went to Seashore Trolley Museum, where it is stored out of public view under a tarp, with no motors. Damp climates in Oregon and Maine mean the car is quite rusty, and is not likely to be restored soon, and probably not in my lifetime. Having operated PE 717 many times at Orange Empire, it would be a wonderful experience to run 680 through the woods of Maine, but I doubt that even a British bookmaker would quote odds on it.

  • Robert Hernandez


  • Gary Boughton

    Could the car assignment have anything to do with the “Headsigns” I would think it a difficult task to have all the destinations on one roll sign. So certain cars for certain lines or carbarns would seem plausable. No???
    Bob Davis, how I envy you for operating the PE cars! This year I have qualified to operate a 1919 Birney car (car 21 in Fort Collins Co) and it is really a “hoot”) I also drove buses out of West Hollywood in the ’60’s, but nothing like a trolley! Would love to operate a beloved 600.

  • John Robert C Fox

    next to the blimps .the Hollywood cars were very popular.even towards their end when they became 1800,s.metro should once again paint some of their cars back into pacific electric,s paint scheme. to show heritage and what was and what could and can return !!!

  • Al Donnelly

    PERy car 5128 known to be photo’d eastbound on Hollywood at Van Ness probably just prior to demise of the line (judging by one car next to it). 5127 is on this site in the Valley.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Start typing and press Enter to search

error: Please, no downloads.