History of the three street cars

The Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (M&MTB) built ten “X-1” class streetcars between 1926 and 1928 at its Preston Workshops. The single truck streetcars were developed from the two “Birney” streetcars imported by the M&MTB from the US in 1923.

The principal difference between the American “Birney” and the Australian derivative is that the “X-1” streetcars are of a solid, more substantial steel sub-frame construction and have four doors - one at each corner. These unique features offer a major operational advantage, allowing loading /unloading from either side of the street.

When originally placed in service, the ten “X-1” streetcars were equipped with “Birney”-style deadman handle brake valve equipment, and painted in the M&MTB’s then-new livery of green panels, cream window framing and a light stone roof. The interior woodwork and ply panelling were varnished. The cars were equipped with upholstered seats and brass window sashes.


The “X-1” streetcars were used on the isolated western suburban system of Footscray for most of their lives. Eight of the streetcars also operated on the main Melbourne system as “all-night” cars for various lengths of time between 1954 and 1957. As such, their territory was extensive.

Cars 466 and 467 were also used as standby “Tourist Cars” from 1927 to 1936. Between 1930 and 1936, all of the “X-1” streetcars were fitted with fare boxes to assist driver-only operation.

All ten “X-1” streetcars were withdrawn and stored on the closure of the Footscray system on March 10, 1962. 467 was presented complete to the Australian Electric Traction Association, and it is preserved in running condition at the Bylands Museum of the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria.

The bodies of the other nine “X-1” streetcars were sold in 1962.

Between 1995 and 2001, Newstead Tramcars purchased the bodies of 460, 463 and 466. A formal agreement has been entered into with the Bendigo Tramways, to restore the three bodies to “better-than-new” operating condition. It is these three streetcars that are offered for sale. Car 466 was competed in 2003 and subsequently underwent extensive testing on the Bendigo and Ballarat streetcar systems.