The Vert-A-Pac Automobile Carrier

Published: 2021-01-04 - By: gdm
Last updated on: 2022-02-07
visibility: Public
Aimed at reducing shipping costs, a uniquely American innovation that entered service in April 1970, the 89' 4" long Vert-A-Pac automobile carrier transported thirty sub-compact cars in the same cubic space as a conventional tri-level autorack, which could only transport eighteen vehicles.

Cooperatively developed by ACF and the Southern Pacific to transport General Motors upcoming Chevrolet Vega models from their points of manufacture to US distributors, the Vert-A-Pac was designed to transport thirty of the new sub-compact automobiles in a vertical, rather than a horizontal position.

Parked on one of three spots that were located on ten bottom hinged doors that doubled as ramps and numbered five per body side, each Vega was secured; then, in groups of three, were stood on end (nose down) within the Vert-A-Pac body after each door was lifted into a closed position with a forklift truck.

Transporting automobiles nose down is no small engineering feat, as the issues of fluids (e.g., battery, gasoline, oil, and windshield wiper) retention and potential transport damage to engines and transmissions had to be considered.

Not only rostered by the Southern Pacific, Southern Railway, and Illinois Central (whose cars bore home road lettering and reporting marks), Vert-A-Pac bodied mineral red or yellow flatcars with TTX or TTVX reporting marks were utilized by the Baltimore & Ohio, Burlington Northern, Denver Rio Grande Western, Florida East Coast, Louisville & Nashville, Merchants Dispatch Transportation (leased to Penn Central), Milwaukee Road, Missouri Pacific, Rock Island, Seaboard Coast Line, and St. Louis San Francisco Railway (Frisco) railroads.

Phased out after Vega production was ended in 1977, most of the flatcars were reracked with conventional tri-level racks and the Vert-A-Pac bodies were scrapped.