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As Melbourne's heritage W Class fleet began to be
replaced by newer vehicles in the mid 1970's, trams originally
operated by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board started
to find their way to other parts of the world.
From Sydney to Perth, rural Australia, New Zealand and across
the world many of the vehicles built at the still operational
Preston Workshops found a second life once they were no longer
US cities such as Dallas, Memphis and San Jose put our trams to
work on their streetcar systems, while others were converted into
cafes. Melbourne tram 520 even ended up at Elton John's country
estate after the singer decided to celebrate the top ten success of
his 1983 Too Low For Zero album by treating himself to a
garden ornament which had travelled more than 2.5 million
kilometres over 55 years before a well deserved retirement.
When Seattle, Washington launched the Waterfront Streetcar system in May 1982 three
retired Melbourne trams - numbers 482, 512 and 518 - made up the
entire fleet. To celebrate the launch of the streetcar, and of that
year's NBA season, the Seattle Supersonics used tram 482 in their
pre-season team photo.
This picture, currently being used by sports writer Bill
Simmons as the display picure accompanying tweets to his 1.7
million Twitter followers, captures the moment tram 482 took its
place in US sporting history.
Tram 482 first entered service on Saturday 28
January, 1928 and remained a part of Melbourne's network until
September 1979 when it was retired and transported to America.
The introduction of a tram network must have been a good luck
charm for the Supersonics as they qualified for the NBA playoffs
Much like tram 482 Seattle's basketball team eventually ended up
on the move, in their case to Oklahoma City where they are
currently playing in the NBA Finals series under their new
Tram 482 was still in service when the Seattle streetcar system was suspended in 2005
and it is now stored in the city while the future of the network is
For more about the story of Melbourne's trams visit our history section.