I was going through some old stuff (and actually had the gumption to throw a few things away!) but found a Walthers BART train from about 25 years ago. As I recall, it wasn't anything like the made-in-China stuff we have now; I had to paint the front beaky thing white in order to get the decals to stay on, and of course I had to decal the thing. It looks like I never got around to adding the handrails.
BART originally had "A" cars, with the beaky thing on the front, and "B" cars, which were intermediate units. Then, when service expanded, they got "C" cars (which they probably should have gotten instead of "A" cars in the first place) that had cabs but with a flat end and could be coupled in the middle of trains. Then they converted some "A" cars into more "C" cars. At that point, I stopped following BART, but subsequent trips to the San Francisco area make me think they went ahead and converted all the rest of the "A" cars.
The Walthers "A" cars have a Tenshodo SPUD drive at one end. I wouldn't object if Walthers returned to this project, but my guess is even made-in-China at this stage would mean RTR cars in the $80-100 range (and certainly more the longer the project is delayed), so maybe we'll never see this again.
I'm still busy scanning 40 years of photos, and I note that I've taken more BART photos than I thought. I don't think Walthers has run BART cars in at least 20 years, though the models are still listed as discontinued on their site. That's a shame. Modern transit has its own appeal, especially the lines like BART that run on the surface, often parallel to railroad routes. Here is a shot from a train of a shop area:
Here's the kind of urban scenery you can see next to the tracks:
Wouldn't it be an interesting challenge to include an elevated structure with operating transit over a more conventional rail layout?
I think you are correct. In several trips to the Bay Area for business and several rides on the BART over the past six years I haven't seen any more of the "beaky" ones. I think they all got converted over to what you are calling the "C" end.
I'll be driving past the Pleasanton yard in the middle of the 580 with my wife and some relatives next month, so I'm going to be sure to have someone else drive then so I can jot down some car numbers to see what the situation is -- a web search brings up very, very little BART info, when I think this is actually a fairly interesting operation. Not the New York subway, of course, but interesting.
Here are some detail shots. C car cab:
A car cab front. Note windshield wiper and cardboard destination sign:
It's a little puzzling that such a gold-plated high-tech operation would have had such a clunky destination sign!
A car radio antenna:
German style tubular diaphragms:
If anyone knows of sources for HO BART models, or good web sites with current rosters and such, I'd be very interested to know. Meanwhile, the windshield wiper, radio antenna, and diaphragms are commercial HO parts, and I'll be upgrading my 3-car BART train.