Studebaker built two of these electric vehicles used to transport passengers from the Old Senate Building to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. These two custom-built, storage-battery-powered coaches were ordered by the U.S. Government in 1908 and delivered by the Studebaker Company in 1909. The two coaches were named 'Peg' and 'Tommy.' This particular example is called 'Tommy' while 'Peg' currently resides in the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana and is unrestored. 'Tommy', currently owned by the Swigart Museum, was given a restoration in 1954-55.
At the turn of the 20th century, during the construction of the Old senate Office Building, a contract was also let for a pedestrian tunnel. It was an underground thoroughfare (a subway) connecting the Capital with the offices for members of the Senate. Work on the tunnel was started in 1907 and finished the following year.
'Tommy' has a cheery body and has room for twelve passengers, facing each other, and driver(s). If one driver was used, he changed seats to change direction. Originally, the car was equipped with solid rubber tires, but they were later changed to pneumatic type for comfort.
The 12 six-volt batteries had a range of 85 miles. It is estimated that 'Tommy' and 'Peg' made an average of 225 trips each day, carrying 2,200 passengers, through the 760-foot long tunnel. The two vehicles served daily until 1912 when a faster, larger (two coaches, each with 18-passenger capacity) monorail system was installed. 'Tommy' and 'Peg' where then semi-retired, and used only during rush periods until 1916, when they went into storage.
On August 16th of 1939, these two original pair of 'Senate subway cars' were sold at auction for $35. 'Tommy' was displayed at the New York World's Fair in 1939. 'Peg' went directly to the Studebaker Museum in South Bend.By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2016
This car, 'Peg', showed significant wear from hard use. The driver's areas, particularly around the steering tiller, required structural stabilization and the passenger seating areas were quite worn. The entire vehicle was surface cleaned, and the seat cushions were recreated to the original specifications. Metal parts, specifically the seat braces, were closely inspected and repaired. Areas of split and missing wood were filled and replaced.
Construction of an underground subway between the U.S. Capitol and the old senate office building was completed in 1908. It was later decided to include vehicular transportation between the two buildings so Studebaker was contracted by the federal government to build two battery-operated 12-passenger coaches, which were delivered in 1909. Constructed of cherry, the pair quickly received the nickname Peg and Tommy. This is Tommy.
The driver changed position depending upon the direction the vehicle was heading. Originally, solid rubber tires were used, but were later changed to pneumatic tires for a softer ride. The cost of each vehicle in 1909 was $2,691. Range between changes was 85 miles, and it was used on average of 225 trips per day carrying 2,200 passengers through the 760-foot-long tunnel. Both vehicles were semi-retired in 1912 and only used during rush periods through 1916. They were sold at auction on August 16, 1939, for $35 each. Peg resides in the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana, and Tommy is part of the Swigart Museum in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.