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Montreal’s Old Metro cars becoming creative hubs in ambitious reuse project


Montreal’s Old Metro cars – While some old cars are thrown on to the literal scrap heap, others are given a second life in a training lab or a disaster and rescue facility. To symbolize nostalgia or community pride, or even just to allow collective mourning, a small number of these cars find new homes in museums. Of course, restoring long-dormant vintage cars isn’t a hobby that comes cheap.

Open for ideas

In 2016, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) was forced to confront the final days of its 50-year-old subway system’s original MR-63 cars, so let it be known that it was open to proposals on potential creative reuse. Some 30 ideas were submitted, with seven finalists announced in the fall of 2016. A number of projects have now either been launched or completed.

Old Montreal Metro cars at Lachine canal

From subway to snack bar

Among the largest and more ambitious projects is Project MR-63, launched in March. Due to undergo its pilot phase (F-MR Station), this summer will see four subway cars undergo a makeover, after which they will hold a design showcase, a recording studio, an art gallery, and a snack bar. The Station will be based near southwest Montreal’s Lachine Canal National Historic Site. The project’s next phase, which isn’t expected to open until 2020, will see twice the amount of cars transformed into a multi-level space that will host local events, as well as showcase food vendors and local artists.

We all love cars

Road vehicles of all kinds have been known to hold a special place in the heart of both communities and individuals for generations. Whether it’s a love of trains, trucks, or cars, there have been various ways in which people have chosen to express their passion throughout the years. Cars, in particular, have received much devotion by those who have a love of nostalgia, a fondness for a particular brand or style, or who simply love the sound of a roaring engine. Cars have long proven their place in popular culture, too, whether through movies like The Italian Job and The Fast and the Furious or games such as Super Mario Kart or Drive: Multiplayer Mayhem. The latter title is even considered among the best available slots in 2018, and with its $1,000 bonus, continues to attract numerous motor vehicle fans to give it a try.

Ambitious brothers

Entrepreneur brothers Etienne and Frederic Morin-Bordeleau recognized this passion. They illustrated this when they developed MR-63 from their understanding of how much the subway has provided fond memories and pride to the residents of Montreal. Etienne Morin-Bordeleau said in a video about the project that they didn’t want to get just one car when there was an opportunity to get more and use them to enjoy, not only what they’re passionate about, but that represents the city: culture, art, and gastronomy.

The project has received a generous amount of support from its 40 volunteers, in addition to pro bono assistance, which includes more than $100,000 in architectural work. A number of financial and logistical steps still need to be carried out, such as land use approvals.

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