A J.G. Brill & Company DT-9 Window Streetcar, c.1918,
Lot 207¤
A J.G. Brill & Company DT-9 Window Streetcar, c.1918,
Sold for US$ 52,500 inc. premium
Lot Details
A J.G. Brill & Company DT-9 Window Streetcar, c.1918,
Exceptionally rare survivor of a bygone era
Built by the most prolific streetcar maker in history
Rare opportunity to start your own streetcar service

The J.G. Brill Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania started in 1868 making simple horsecars and would rise to become the largest manufacturer of streetcars and interurbans in the world. Quickly evolving to supplant the horse with steam and electric power as those motive forces became the primary means of propulsion for urban rail systems. From the Philadelphia works emerged innovations like the Convertible Car, which had removable sides to allow for comfortable use in both the summer and winter, the Semi-Convertible Car which had windows that could retract fully into the top of the body, and various streamlined and high-speed trolleys. In addition to trolleys, Brill also produced commercial bodies for cars and buses alike.

Riding high through the 1920s and continually growing through a series of mergers, the decline of both street-level railways and interurban trains hit the company hard. As more cities focused on subways and buses, Brill tried to adapt with its PCC-line (President's Conference Committee streetcar—made to a design developed by the streetcar industry in the late-1930s) and 'track-less trolleys'—essentially buses—but the change in how cities managed urban transport eventually led to Brill's demise in 1954.

Today, there are still a number of Brill-built vehicles operating in cities with historic streetcars such as San Francisco and Toronto.

A nicely preserved example of one of the more rarely seen streetcars, this Brill Double-Entrance 9-window is of the type that would have been often seen plying the street of Philadelphia and Brooklyn from the turn of the 20th century up until the late 1940s. Painted in Philadelphia livery and indicated as car number 17, very little on the early history of this car has been determined. Likely acquired at the same time as the San Francisco Cable Car during a time when most transit authorities were severely downsizing their streetcar fleets, it remains in largely original and unrestored condition. The elegant interior still covered in beautifully preserved wood trim with glassed-in lights hanging from the ceiling. Relying on overhead power lines for electricity, the hardware is still present atop the train.

Whether one wishes to try their hand at operating their own street car service or simply have a spectacular conversation piece, this Brill streetcar is hard to beat!

Due to the size of this lot, the Brill Street Car will not be present at the preview/auction at the NASW Aviation Museum. For information regarding viewing times and collection, please consult the department.

Offered on a Bill of Sale.

Saleroom notices

  • Further information on this Streetcar indicates that this car, a c.1919 DE ST City Car was either originally built entirely by J.G. Brill Co. and shipped to Japan or assembled in Japan with Brill produced parts and based on a Brill design. Similar streetcars were also produced for American-market use as well. The example offered, Car no. 17, was originally used in Kyoto, Japan on the Kitano Line running from Tenjin to Kyoto Station. The line was abolished in July of 1961 at which point the Streetcar was donated by the City of Kyoto to the Cox family for their museum the same year.. Kyoto was the first Japanese city to establish street level electric rail Very few of these Kyoto single truck, 43" gauge streetcars still survive. Car no. 19, a sister streetcar to the offered lot, still exists in original and working condition at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California. Car no. 17 is accompanied by several extensive files of historical documentation and photos.
Auction information

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Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first $100,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from $100,001 to $2,000,000 of the Hammer Price
12% on the excess over $2,000,000 of the Hammer Price

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Lot symbols
¤ Without reserve
Contacts
  1. Kurt Forry
    Specialist - Motor Cars
    Bonhams
    Work
    220 San Bruno Avenue
    San Francisco, United States 94103
    Work +1 415 503 3248
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