Today, American businesses send their Presidents to various parts of the world in their private jets. At the turn of the 19th century, the corporate jet was a private rail car. From individual cars to business cars, the companies kept their staff on the rails. Each Railroad had their favorite builder, but many of the cars we see on sidings today were built by Budd or Pullman.
Most cars today are owned by very rich people and to pay their fees are leased or rented. The top link below has many glorious photographs of private rail cars at a 2002 convention.
One of the most memorable of the rail historians was Lucius Beebe. He, with his partner Charles Clegg, bought and restored two rail cars in a most flamboyant fashion. In blurred photographs above, you can see the living room and the kitchen of the Gold Coast now in the collection of the California State Railroad Museum.
Private Railroad Car Links
Photos of Private Railcars Attending the 2002 Convention
Patron Express - Friday on 20/20 interview with Barbara Walters; Video clip here
California Zephyr Virtual Museum
Wikipedia on Private Railroad Cars
Washington Post Private Railroad Car article
Colonial Crafts Railcar.com
California Zephyr Charter
Rail Journeys West
Cincinnati Railway Dinner Train
Flickr Private Rail Car photographs
Private Car Ownership