For an old Bachmann design, these are actually pretty decent looking and running models. The shell is nicely painted and detailed, and the mechanism is a surprisingly solid performer. All wheels are geared and provide pickup. There are no traction tires. A non-directional headlight is mounted to the front of the chassis. The motor (buried somewhere inside all that metal) is a box-shaped 5-poler. The pantagraph is non-functional. The chassis weighs a ton, making for a lot of pulling power. Pickup is great and throttle response is exceptionally smooth. Great slow speed creep and a not-too-crazy top-end speed.
My only real complaint with these models is the somewhat insane 1970's Bachmann gearing scheme (metal, metal and more metal, coupled with a scarily complex "cup gear" driveshaft). As a consequence, these things are crazy loud at pretty much any speed.
Like Bachmann's Turbo Train (their other circa-1970 "themed" trainset model), these Metroliners had a relatively short lifespan. I don't know exactly when they were discontinued, but they certainly didn't last into the 1980s when Bachmann started updating their trainset locomotives with split-frame chasses, etc. The chassis pictured above is the only one ever produced for this model. In fact, the only variation I've come across in any of these models is with the pantagraphs. The earliest versions are semi-rigid plastic (IE, non-adjustable), whereas later runs came with adjustable metal pantagraphs, EG -
These models were sold either ala-carte (powered or dummy) or as part of a four car trainset (with three of the cars being dummies). I've only seen these in Penn Central and Amtrak livery (with PC apparently being the most common paint scheme).
Trivia - These same models were also distributed by Tomy in the 1970s (probably only in Japan). Same basic packaging, but with the Tomy name added. EG -
Grade: B (if you can get past all the noise)
Reviewed: 9/70 Model Railroader ("The Bachmann N scale model is ready to run, painted and lettered Penn Central. The one-piece cast plastic body very closely follows the scale dimensions and proportions of the prototype, including its interesting curve-side construction. The model is a few scale inches wider than the prototype. This is not noticeable. The model represents the 76-passenger coach. A fixed Faiveley pantograph comes mounted on each car. It is plastic and not flexible, so it cannot be wired for current pickup. Clear blue-tinted plastic is used for windows in a very effective manner. The power car has an illuminated headlight. The dummy cars have a cast plastic floor and underframe with a sheet metal ballast weight. The trucks are one-piece plastic castings. The scale 44"-diameter metal wheels - the prototype has 36" wheels - have flanges .028" deep. The check gauge is .308". All wheels are insulated. The motor car has a cast zinc alloy frame. A small 5-pole 12 volt motor drives all eight wheels... There are plastic internal gear reductions next to the motor and a worm-and-gear reduction at each truck. The Rapido-type automatic couplers are truck-mounted, which couples the cars about scale 6 feet apart... Our test sample... had a high starting speed. The unit ran smoothly. It tended to be noisy; the application of lubricant reduced this. The motor car should pull five to seven trailers over the average layout... The power car, #4760, is priced $10.98. Unpowered cars, #4770, are $3.98. The cars are also available in train set form: a power car, three trailer cars, a lap of track, power pack, connecting wires, and rerailer, for $29.85")