- Open-top, flat-bottom car with no hatches
- Segmented in the market by cubic capacity, sidewall height, weight capacity; "coil cars" are specially designed for sheet metal rolls
- Used for commodities that are not sensitive to the weather: low-sided variety used for very dense material or bulky items (steel plates, steel or aluminum coils, rail track); high-sided, or "bathtub," variety used for coal, solid waste, stone
- Can be rapidly unloaded by rotary car dumpers which rotates the cars 180 degrees to empty them
- Can also be unloaded from the top using a claw
Gondolas were the first railcar type and were referred to as "mine cars." The sides on the cars were originally very high and have been lowered over time for commodities such as waste and scrap metal. Side heights currently range between four and eight feet.
Gondolas designed for the purpose of hauling coiled steel have a framework of crossbars inside the car to hold the coils in place. These cars are sometimes equipped with removable lids.