The New Atlas Gunderson “Multi Max” Autorack

The Prototype

As mass production of automobiles increased during the 1950s and 60s, specially designed railcars became a crucial component in their construction and delivery. Early auto carriers were built with open sides, and looked similar in appearance to car-carrying road trailers. This presented several problems, the most prominent being exposure to weather, and more importantly, graffiti and vandalism.

In 1973 the Norfolk and Western Railway took delivery of the first ever enclosed Autorack car, with mass production beginning the following year. While several offshoots of this type were constructed in the years since (such as the tri-level articulated Auto Max cars) the standard design had changed little in 40 years.

Launched by Greenbrier in 2013 and based on their own specially designed 89′ flatcar, the Gunderson Multi Max represents the first major re-imagination of the standard 89′ Autorack. Built with input from freight car operators, the Multi Max features adjustable height interiors, allowing for either bi-level or tri-level loading without the need for adding or removing decks, while they maintain the same general size and profile of previous generations. Over 10,000 have been delivered since their debut, and the type is now a well established sight on freight trains across North America.

The Model

The Atlas HO scale Gunderson Multi Max is the first commercial model of the type to be made available. Featuring all-new tooling for both the body and trucks, four prominent paint scheme variations are featured in this first release, including BNSF, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and Kansas City Southern. All feature laser sharp accurate paint schemes, correct colors, and a wealth of printed detail, including all warnings, labels, and notices seen on the prototype. Additionally, the CN and CP variations display reporting marks for their respective subsidiaries, Grand Trunk Western, and Soo Line.

With their corrugated roofs and sheet metal siding, autoracks have always been considered a challenge to reproduce in model form. Atlas has met this challenge head on with these cars, and has pulled off a believable metal appearance on the separately manufactured siding, while taking care to reproduce design differences between the models, depending on the railroad they’re detailed for. Thanks to the incredibly intricate level of molding on these pieces, you’d be hard pressed for knowing that they are in fact plastic models, and the fine-textured silver paint on the “steel” surfaces only reinforces this.

Detail extends beyond the body of the cars to the underside, where separately applied piping, chains, struts, and more have been accurately replicated with fine-scaled precision. Other features of note include separately manufactured scale car-end ladders, and appropriately sized brake hoses and coupler cut levers, which have been separately painted in appropriate colors.

The cars feature sufficient weighting for smooth operation. They roll freely thanks to their blackened metal wheels, and metal knuckle couplers have been installed on both ends, featuring body mounting and a realistic close-coupling distance.

If you model modern freight railroading, this car is an essential addition for your roster. It’s detailed appearance and stellar rolling capability will be sure to please.

See our selection of these cars here