Pioneer Zephyr Diesel Passenger Set w/Proto-Sound 3.0 - Flying Yankee
Product Number: 20-20358-1
Product Line: Premier
WE ARE AN AUTHORIZED MTH DEALER.
A new era dawns with the Zephyr
On April 4, 1934, America's first streamlined, diesel-powered passenger train rolled out of the Edward G. Budd plant in Philadelphia. Revolutionary in almost every way, the little 3-car Burlington Zephyr was a collaboration between three partners who each had something to prove. It would turn out to be a perfect publicity vehicle for each of them.
Ralph Budd, president of the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad (and no relation to the Budd Company), needed to prove to Depression-weary passengers that train travel could be modern and exciting. He also wanted an economical train for, as he put it, "situations where a train had to be operated but where earnings were insufficient for any profit." The Budd company, armed with a patented process for welding stainless steel to make vehicle bodies, had been successful in the automotive and aircraft industries and was looking for a foothold in the railroad business. General Motors, having recently purchased the Electro-Motive Company and the Winton Engine Company, was looking to prove the viability of its new diesel engines.
The lead designer in realizing Ralph Budd's dream was Albert Dean, an aeronautical engineer who came to the Budd company fresh out of college. The Zephyr borrowed many features from aircraft design, including a fully enclosed underbody for lower drag, and Dean tested his design in the wind tunnel at his alma mater, MIT. Radical at the time, the Zephyr's unpainted stainless steel exterior would become a hallmark of streamlined passenger trains, as would its lightweight design. The entire 3-car Zephyr, locomotive and all, weighed about the same as a single Pullman coach of the time. And it was fast. Fresh out of the factory, it was clocked at 104 mph.
Headlines and the Silver Screen
Budd was determined to get the maximum publicity value out of his gleaming experiment before it settled into daily service. Between April and November, the train visited 222 cities and hosted over two million visitors. In the depths of the Great Depression, the Zephyr was a futuristic, shiny symbol of hope. Everything about the train was bright and lightweight, compared with the dark and heavy materials used on trains of the time; the "heavyweight" look, which had symbolized richness and luxury in the twenties, now seemed a bit dark and depressing - like the state of the nation.
On May 26, 1934, the Burlington staged a non-stop "Dawn to Dusk" run from Denver to Chicago that made headlines throughout the nation. "Ushering in a new era in railroad history, the Burlington's streamline train, the Zephyr, arrived in Chicago from Denver tonight at the end of the longest and fastest run in railroad history," reported the New York Times. "In spanning a third of the continent, the Zephyr's speed at times reached 112