Car 171 is a typical San Francisco streetcar of the 1920s. It’s a big, heavy car with low-level platforms that allowed large numbers of passengers to board quickly. Its spartan but functional interior features wooden seats and plenty of room for standees. It was used on local streetcar routes throughout San Francisco until replaced by new PCC-type streetcars in May, 1958. Held in reserve for a short time, official retirement came in January, 1959.
Acquired by the Museum in 1959, car 171 is nearing the end of a restoration to its late 1930’s appearance. The interior has been completely rebuilt, replacing the green paint of the 1950s with the more elegant combination of painted and varnished surfaces of its earlier years. The exterior of the car has been restored to its 1939 blue and yellow color scheme (representing the California state colors of blue and gold), which it received in honor of the World's Fair held that year in San Francisco. The air-operated rear entrance doors applied in 1949 have been removed, returning the car to its correct appearance for the 1930s era.
Car 171 is one of 20 “Type K” cars (Nos. 169-188) built in San Francisco by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company. They were similar to the predecessor Type A and Type B cars (Nos. 1-168), and their enormous size and weight earned them the nickname “Iron Monsters”. However, in deference to the city’s prevailing cool, often foggy, weather conditions, the Type K cars were built with an all-enclosed design instead of the open/closed/open “ California ” style design of the earlier cars.
Sister cars No. 1, 130 and 162 are operated today by the San Francisco Municipal Railway, and you can ride them on the "F" Line that serves Market St. and the Embarcadero. Follow the links for more info.