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MTA retires 1960s-era "Brightliner" subway cars

New York City's R-32 subway cars reach the end of the line 02:13

NEW YORK -- The New York City subway system has been up and running for more than a century, but through the decades, the cars passengers ride in have always been evolving.

As CBS' Errol Barnett reports, the most recent upgrade has finally taken some legendary cars off the tracks.

They've been featured in countless Hollywood classics from the '60s and '70s, from "The French Connection" to the cult hit "The Warriors" and even the 1977 reboot of "King Kong."

New York's iconic subways have long symbolized life in the Big Apple on the big screen and in real life.

But this week marked the end of the line for one of the more popular car models from that era -- the sleek and durable R-32s, nicknamed "the Brightliners" because of their shiny stainless steel exteriors.

After 58 years, the MTA is officially retiring them from service.

"They're very, very mid-century modern in their aesthetic," said Concetta Bencivenga, director of the New York Transit Museum. "They've got this sort of undulating stainless steel on the exterior. They look beautiful, and you sort of expect Don Draper to be handing you a martini, right? They're very, very kind of from the 1960s and it shows."

On Monday, scores of rail enthusiasts were on hand to watch and say goodbye as the last four R-32 cars made their final journey, not underground, but through the streets of Brooklyn's Sunset Park.

The cars were being transferred via locomotive to a railyard, where they will be disassembled and shipped off to Ohio for recycling.

"So it's being retired because it ran for 58 years, and so that's a good run by any stretch of the imagination. It's a good run, and it's part of the overall effort once again to modernize that transit fleet here in the New York City region," Bencivenga said.

For anyone who missed riding the legendary Brightliner, the New York Transit Museum will soon have two R-32s on display.

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