If you’ve been following our little series of posts chock full of lovely Leslie Ragan art in advertisements for the Budd company, you may have noticed a few ads featuring Budd’s RDC – or Rail Diesel Car. Today’s post completes our collection of Ragan ads, and focuses on the RDC. The RDC’s were widely used here and around the world – Australia, Canada, Brazil, and even Saudi Arabia all had RDC’s operating at some point in time.
The versatile RDC was an all stainless steel, self propelled railcar that could be operated as a single unit, or multiple cars could be coupled into one longer train. While they operated on all sorts of runs, it was common to see them on lines with fewer passengers, and in commuter service where there was no electrification – like the Upper Harlem Line.
Budd-built cars operating on the Harlem Line – at left, an RDC at Dover Plains, at right an SPV-2000, also in Dover Plains. While the RDC was highly successful, the supposed successor SPV was hardly so – acquiring the less-than-flattering nickname “Seldom Propelled Vehicle.”
Ragan’s art successfully made the RDC look rather dreamy. Realistically, the RDC, with its stainless steel body, was somewhat attractive. By today’s standards, the inside does look a bit dated though. Here are a few Budd promotional photos of the RDC:
The first RDC’s were offered in four different models, numbered 1 through 4. The RDC-1 was for passengers only, and seated 89. The RDC-2 seated 70 passengers, and had a 17 foot baggage compartment. The RDC-3 combined passenger seating with baggage and mail, it accommodated 48 passengers, a 17 foot baggage compartment, and a 15 foot mail apartment. The RDC-4 carried no passengers, and had a baggage compartment measuring 31 feet, and a mail apartment 30 feet long. Ever curious what the first four versions looked like? Here are the schematics, which were published by the Budd Company in a 1953 promotional booklet called “RDC Comes of Age.”