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Evans’ Auto-Railer Chevy Convertible Bus Takes to the Rails

The 1935 “Evans’ Auto-Railer” was designed by the Evans Products Company of Plymouth, Michigan. The Company was headed by Edward S. Evans, who was a contemporary of William B. Stout. Evans’ manufactured parts and equipment for: the automotive, railway,  freight, and aircraft industries. The company designed, patented and produced a number of products used for shipping new cars by rail, and according to Stout, built the first retractable landing gear used on an airplane.


  •                                         Advertisement from an August 1936 issue of “Life Magazine”

The “Auto-Railer” was designed for commuters to take advantage of both the use of roads and the rail. Shorpy, the source of the lead photo found an article in a Washington D.C. area newspaper dated June 26, 1935, that tells of the Evans Products Company negotiating to buy the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Railway. Evans’ was planning “To operate 100 passenger and freight units between Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis.”

The video is a part of the Chevrolet Leader News (Vol. 1, No. 2) from the Prelinger Archives. It demonstrates the “Auto-Railer” in use on the road and rail. The photo is from the Harris & Ewing Collection.

9 responses to “Evans’ Auto-Railer Chevy Convertible Bus Takes to the Rails

  1. Additional Evans Auto Railer products and pictures:

    Popular Mechanics Magazine February 1944 issue pages 1 to 5 (read online at google books)

    Search online for

    “Evans Auto-Railer””Highway Locomotive”

    “Evans Auto-Railer “”Ghost Railroads of Indiana”

  2. I’m intrigued by the claim that Evans’ company designed, patented and produced the first retractable landing gear used on aircraft. The statement reminds me of Captain James V. Martin, designer of several innovative automobiles between 1926 and the early 1950s (Dart, Aerodynamic, Autoette, Stationette, etc.). Starting in 1916, he filed a series of patent applications seeking to protect his designs for manually-operated retractable aircraft landing gear. By 1923, he had filed a $9 million patent infringement law suit against the Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation and its subsidiaries, whose defense pointed out that the patent office had received similar patent requests as early as 1911 and had issued up to a dozen patents prior to Martin’s. I’m curious, do you know whether Evans’ patent was one of the dozen that predated Martin’s?

    • Robert, That was a claim by William Stout in a newspaper article I found while trying to learn more about the bus. I should have broken up the last sentence in the first paragraph into two (corrected) because I did not mean to include that he had patented the landing gear.

      He may have patented one after Martin’s because I did find a number of patents for Evans Products Company in a search.

  3. During WW2 Evans did conversions for a large number of government vehicles, may of which are shown in Fred Crismon’s excellent ” U.S. Military Wheeled Vehicles ”

    In particular they seem to have supplied Dodge conversions for use in the various Ordnance Arsenal Plants such as Ravenna. I believe the basic function was rail-smooth delivery of raw Nitroglycerine to the various stabilisation plants where it was turned into something less – temperamental.

    If my information is correct Evans later morphed into Fairmont Hyrail, which is still running today as part of the HARSCO Group.

    I wanted a set of Evans Auto-Railer equipment for one of my WW2 Dodge trucks but had to settle for Hyrail gear as very little original Evans product seems to have survived.

  4. I live in Plymouth,MI and the Evans Products plant still exists, however I believe it is used as a rail car repair operations.

    • I used to work there in the test lab straight out of college in 1974/75 We made cushion packs and hydracushion along with railroad car bulkheads. Some railroad car rebuild building was done at that time mostly gondola cars.

      • My father, Ben Colman, was Vice President of Evans and head of the rail car division. He was instrumental in the design of the Hydracushion system. In the 50s and 60s, Evans manufactured bicycles. My first bike was an Evans.

  5. My uncle Floyd Kerr worked there when he registered for the draft in June 1942. He was there in Detroit for the summer from his home in Lincoln Kansas.

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