Product Idea |

San Francisco's Cable Car Trolley

What has moved city-goers of San Francisco around since the 1800's? What is one of the most iconic symbols of this famous American city? What is the subject of this project? The San Francisco Cable cars, of course!

With the earliest line operating since 1878, and the latest still operating today, the vehicles manage to be both historic and contemporary, while simultaneously acting as an iconic and useful transportation system unique to the city; If you showed someone in America a picture of one of these streetcars, they'd instantly guess San Francisco.

Even outside of representing a city like this, however, the set could even work in anyone's Lego city; If it fit minifigures like the real life version fits people, you could easily use it in your own lego city as a way to move minifigures around in style! (or something along those lines :s)

The Model:

The color scheme of the active cars varies depending on which line they operate on, so I have chosen to recreate the Powell & Market / Powell & Hyde Street colors as that feels in my opinion to be the most famous version of the car.

The Cable Car concept model itself has been designed to be sturdy and modestly accurate, as well as have the ability to fit passengers to match the function of the real thing. In this model, minifigures can be carried through the city either sitting on the indoor cabin seats, standing on the standing room, or gripping onto the outside poles. (i'm still thinking of a way to make minifigures be able to sit on the outside seats in this model)

One of the features that I think is necessary for a cable car model is a quick way to place and remove minifigures in the model. As such, I designed this one with several accesability features built in:
The whole roof can be popped off so that minifigures can be easily placed inside the interior cabin, and the poles on the front can be swung up without needing to be detached so that the interior of the front can be easily accessed without needing to remove the top. The rear section also has two access gates (represented by translucent 2X4 tiles in such a way that a grate design can be printed on top of them) that can also be flipped out to allow quick access to their corresponding area without needing to remove the roof.

Just to put the scale in perspective, this current model contains around 340 pieces (not counting minifigures), which would likely put it around the 40-50$ price range if it were to be produced with the four minifigures down below.

The Minifigures:

I also wanted to populate the set with some starter passengers as well as an operator.Four minifigures could be included: two normal passengers, and two streetcar operational staff members*. I tried to make characters that could emulate the kind of people normally found on a cable car, but in a creative way (this may be inaccurate though, as I have only ridden the car once)
The characters represented are:

- male groover (w/ boombox)

- female photographer (w/ camera)

- streetcar maintenance engineer (w/ wrench)

- streetcar operator (w/ streetcar)

*both of the streetcar staff have no identifying gender characteristics and could represent either gender

Additional Detail:

In real life, Cable cars have advertisements attached to the sides of them. The cable car model could replicate this by having different adverts on interchangeable 2X4 tiles. The ones pictured are for famous San Francisco landmarks.

(clockwise from top: Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf.
sources for these images are listed at the bottom of the page)

In Real Life:

Finally, here's a picture of what a real San Francisco cable car looks like. If you go to San Francisco sometime, you will surely see some sliding down the streets.

-= Remember, if you like this idea, make sure to support it so that it can become a =-
-=real product! =-

P.S. Resources:

Interested in other projects to suport? take a peek at these:

HafCrew's neat little Micro Space Mars Colony!

jon_h's cool Airport Crash Truck!

Glaubitzohio's adorable MiniNXT Figure!

dr.runright's fitting Field Sprayer!

tromas' awesome BRC-161 Skua SAR!

LotharMichel's true-blue German Federal Agency Technical Releif Van!

StephenAsbury's incredible and accurate American Style Hook and Ladder Truck!

Schneidi121 adventurous Technic Roller Coaster Statue !


Interested in the models that I have used for this project? Check 'em out here!

Click here to download the more detailed, but less rational version 3 model used in the last version of the project.

Click here to download the older V2 Model

Visit if you want to learn more about these famous trolleys.

Image Credits:

Background image for title picture:

Background image for minifigures picture:,_san_fran...

Advertisement slide image sources:


Fisherman's Wharf:

Golden Gate Bridge:

The Painted Ladies:

Real Life Cable Car Image Source:

Thank you for looking and have a good day!

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