The Zephyr Streamliner trains were built by the Budd Company during
the 1930s for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad company.
The dramatic looking trains were built using large amounts of stainless
steel and a newly developed form of spot welding called shotwelding
to join the panels. The trains were diesel powered, and shortly after
their introduction in 1934 one set a speed record between Denver,
Colorado and Chicago, Illinois. During the marathon 13 hour 5 minute
run, the train hit 112.5 mph - just short of the 115 mph US land speed
record of the time - and gave the train its nickname "The Silver
The Zephyr was lighter than contemporary trains, partly to do with
the stainless steel construction, but also because of the passenger
cars shared the trucks underneath with the adjacent cars, this reduced
the number of trucks needed, and also did away with the need for couplers
to join the cars. One downside of this system was the fact it was
not easy to add or remove cars to the train.
The Zephyr was powered by a 600 horsepower 8-cylinder engine which
acted as a generator to power electrical motors which in turn powered
the train. The driver sat in a small compartment in the nose of the
The rest of the train's carriages consisted of a combination of post
office facilites, a baggage section, a small buffet and passenger
seating. The rear car had an observation area with 12 seats and large
panoramic windows. The standard trains could carry 72 passengers as
well as 50,000 lbs of freight and baggage.
Several Zephyr trains still exist in museums and collections across