In the mid-1930's, as the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors was trying to interest railroads in diesel passenger power, there was a lot of experimentation in exterior design. Looking at EMD's worm-like yellow and brown Union Pacific M-10000 (shown elsewhere in this catalog), its gleaming stainless steel Burlington Zephyr, or the boxy, just-plain-ugly early Santa Fe units, it's apparent that here was a new function looking for its form. The first generation of road diesels found its form in 1937 when the initial E-units, built for the B&O, inaugurated the classic "covered wagon" cab unit design that would last for two decades on both freight and passenger diesels.
The earliest E-units were each virtually custom-made, with less than 20 units produced of models EA through E5. With the E6, EMD settled on a standardized passenger unit and began to produce it in large quantities, until the war effort arrested production of all passenger diesels in 1942. The E6 was the last passenger diesel to sport the rakish, streamlined EMD nose so characteristic of the 1930s. When the war ended, EMD resumed production of the E-Series with the E7, which featured the "bulldog" nose introduced earlier on the model FT freight diesel. With the introduction of the E8 in 1949, the E-unit, America's most popular passenger diesel, reached its final visual form - just in time for the last hurrah of the American passenger train. With twin motors to ensure reliability and six-wheel trucks that rode like a Cadillac, the E8 was an engineer's dream. For huggers who had not long ago worked in steam locomotives, the clean cab of an E-unit with its lofty, panoramic view of the road ahead was not hard to get used to.
The E8 returns to the Premier line for 2008 in several glorious paint schemes from the golden age of passenger travel. ProtoSound 2.0 brings you the authentic sounds of the E8's EMD prime movers and the ability to start your train so gently you won't spill the water in the diner - and then accelerate up to scale speeds of over 100 mph, just like the prototype. Our Pennsy version models the E8 set restored by Bennett Levin, CEO of the Juniata Terminal Company, and is offered in semi-gloss paint as these engines are seen today. Whether you model the Pennsy in its heyday or 2008, these engines would be prototypical on your layout. Our Burlington version replicates the units that pulled the California Zephyr, and the Lackawanna E8s headed that road's Phoebe Snow.