The idea of a vehicle that can both travel the rails and drive down the roads is not a foreign one for anyone who lives near a railroad track. There are service trucks that look like regular pickups that have wheels that drop down to ride the rails while the rubber tires provide the locomotion. Such was the idea behind the Evans Auto-Railer a vehicle that was both a bus and a train and sadly never made it very far past the prototype stage. In the 1935 film made by Chevrolet that you can watch below, you will see the Evans Auto-Railer cruise the streets and then become a locomotive much the same what the rail repair trucks of today do it. The driver lined up the wheels, pulled a lever to lower them and then VOILA! He was riding the rails. The idea has lots of merit in our minds and even moreso back in the 1930s when there were still lots of rural towns in the middle of the country that depended on branch rail lines for everything from mail to produce. Unfortunately when you start thinking about the logistics of vehicles pulling on and off railroad tracks the potential for disaster is pretty high. What do we mean?
Well what happens if the railroad company does not know that a bus is running 10 minutes behind schedule or better yet what if they don’t known an Evans Auto-Railer is due to pull onto the tracks at all? The bus driver pulls on, starts zipping down the rails and all of a sudden a locomotive comes the wrong way. BOOM. Everyone in that sucker is pizza. The idea is so good and with today’s ability to communicate and organize complex layers of data via computers maybe it would work now but back in 1935 there were too many hurdles to jump over to make this whole thing work well.
One other question we have regards Chevrolet’s involvement. Obviously there are big Chevy logos on the sides of the vehicle but the Evans company and the film was produced by Chevrolet but we’re not sure what the connection is. Maybe it was Chevrolet axles, transmissions, and engines used to set the Evans Auto-Railers on? We’re not sure. Either way, this is just another interesting idea that almost was but is now largely lost to history.
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO SEE THE EVANS AUTO-RAILER IN ACTION DURING THIS 1935 CHEVY FILM –