“Petunia” was built in 1920 by the J.G. Brill Company as part of an order of 25 cars for the Dallas Railway Company. The car is a “Birney Safety Car,” a particular design of car named after designer Charles Birney. The Birney cars had numerous safety improvements over earlier streetcars, but they were known for their bouncy ride and were never very popular with the Dallas riding public. Despite that, Petunia remained in service until 1947 when she was replaced by more modern equipment. She was stripped of her wheels, motors and electrical equipment and became a residence for 30 years before she was acquired by MATA in the 1970’s. Petunia has since been fitted with shock absorbers to smooth out her characteristically bouncy ride, and was named Petunia for her “petite size and generally sweet nature.”


  • Built: 1920
  • Length: 28 feet
  • Weight: 10 tons
  • Engine: Two 40-horsepower motors