RDC’s New Look

In 1956, Budd introduced the “new look” RDC. Like the differences between a 1969 and 1970 Volkswagen Beetle, the differences between the old look and new look RDCs were slight. Outside, the headlight was raised a little higher, the air horn was a little larger, the wheels were larger in diameter, and the pilot was slightly redesigned.

Click image to download a 13.2-MB PDF of this 28-page brochure.

Inside, the company advertised that the new cars had “permanently impregnated, colored plastic interior surfaces that never need paint.” The engineer had a more comfortable seat, and the air conditioner was beefed up. Perhaps the biggest change, though one that made zero contribution to the car’s appearance, was that the dual engines that powered the car were increased from 275 to 300 horsepower each.

In this artist’s conception, which is from the above brochure, passengers appear thrilled to be riding in permanently impregnated plastic that never chips or fades. In fact, even their skin appears to be permanently impregnated plastic that never chips or fades.

All but one of the photos of RDCs in this brochure are of the old style, no doubt because Budd didn’t have very many examples of the New Look when the brochure was published in October, 1956. The single exception is an RDC-3 (with baggage and railway post office compartments in addition to 49 seats) built for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. According to my RDC reference book, the M-K-T car was the first one built in 1956, so it seems likely all the ones after that also sported the new look.

After constructing a prototype RDC in 1949, Budd delivered an average of 33 per year in 1950 through 1953. Production dipped down to only 10 in 1954, but then zoomed to a peak of 75 in 1955 as the Boston & Maine decided to replace almost all of its trains, including Boston commuter trains, with RDCs. About 73 were delivered in 1956, again with a large number going to Boston & Maine.

After building 42 more in 1957 and 10 in 1958, production ceased until Brazil, which had purchased six in 1958, ordered 35 more that were delivered in 1962. In addition, in 1957 Canadian Car and Foundry built 16 under license to Budd. In all, some 398 RDCs were built, and about 177 or nearly 45 percent were of the new look variety.

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