Scouting a Forgotten Tour in Rockaway Park in June 2012, I found a pair of R-40 cars in the subway yard, #4393 and what was likely 4392. Introduced on March 23, 1968, the R-40s were indeed futuristic at a time when some lines were still using cars with overhead fans, incandescent bulbs, and plush red seats (that had replaced earlier wicker seats).
The R-40s, designed by Raymond Loewy, had longitudinal seating, some had air conditioning (first introduced in subway cars a year earlier) large front windows that displayed the route letter (40s were BMT and IND, so all ran on lettered lines) and, of course, the famed slant front end that was a new design element entirely. At a time when passengers routinely moved from car to car (a practice officially banned within a couple of decades) the “slants” proved impractical as they left too much room for people to slip and fall out. Hence, various gate and railings contraptions were added, like the ones seen here.
Until 2009, you could still find some 40s on a few subway lines but most were retired after that. The pair seen here at Rockaway Park were used for training but were scrapped within a few years. Today only cars 4280 and 4281 are still in existence in the Transit Museum collection on Boerum Place in downtown Brooklyn.
My favorite cars, the R-46 and R-68, the orange and yellow, window-facing seats, are still going strong and I hope they will be for a long time to come.
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