By the early 1950s, travelers in a hurry and on a budget made Santa Fe’s El Capitan one of its most popular – and crowded – streamliners. As the speedy and economical running mate of the Super Chief, the train was a favorite with families and business travelers, regularly handling 14 or more cars daily with no let-up in sight. Second and third sections were needed during peak summer and holiday travel times, and riders were still being turned away.
To meet demand and upgrade service, new Budd-built 48-seat coaches were assigned to El Capitan as soon as they arrived in the fall of 1953. In March of 1954, a new level of luxury began as the first of the “Big Dome” lounge cars joined the popular train, a hint of more improvements to come. El Capitan would handle the lion’s share of coach passengers with this updated consist until July of 1956, when the all-new Hi-Level cars took over.
Quickly reassigned to equipment pools, former El Capitan cars would be found on the Chief, Texas Chief, Chicagoan, Kansas Cityan, Grand Canyon and others through 1971. Many went on to long careers in Amtrak service, and today, several coaches, lunch counter diners and Big Domes have been preserved.
PLEASE NOTE: As these cars are the correct prototype length and feature full underbody detail to match the prototypes, a minimum 24" radius is recommended for operation.