642 was built in 1986 by East Lancashire Coach Builders of Blackburn. It was one of 8 Centenary class cars, following on from prototype car 641 of 1984 and experimental car 651 of 1985. 642 was one of two batches of three (642-4 of 1986 and 645-7 of 1987/8).
642 arrived in December 1986 and was fitted with trucks built in house and entered service on 20 February 1987. The Centenary class formed the backbone of the fleet operating year round on the scheduled Starr Gate to Fleetwood service and accrued high mileage. Despite being a modern design and using ‘thyristor’ controllers – for motors trusty 1930s English Electric equipment salvaged from withdrawn cars was reused.
In 1991 642 received its first all-over advert and carried several schemes over the next 20 years. 642 was taken out of service in early 1998 for a mid life overhaul – the first of the Centenaries to be so treated. Work commenced in June 1998 with the body stripped to its frame. Larger destinations, higher side panelling, and new side windows were fitted, the trucks were completely overhauled and the car completely rewired. It finally returned to service in November 1999.
The Centenary cars were all withdrawn from service at the end of the 2011 season prior to the relaunch of the upgrade tramway. 642 has been designated as part of the heritage fleet but presently retains the all-over yellow livery carried in its last service years. It has occasionally operated since 2013.