"Tomorrow's Train. TODAY!" heralded a Union Pacific brochure on the M-10000. And indeed it was. The "Little Zip," as UP crews called it, was America's first lightweight, internal-combustion-powered, streamlined train. The UP beat its rival, the Burlington, by rolling out the M-10000 on February 12, 1934 using a 600hp Winton spark-ignition distillate engine, because Winton's diesel was not yet ready. Two months later, Burlington's Zephyr became the first diesel-powered streamliner. That spring and summer, the Little Zip and the Zephyr barnstormed the nation, showing a Depression-weary public that train travel could once again be modern and exciting.
Developed with the aid of a wind tunnel, the M-10000 was lower than a standard passenger train and had a "fishbelly" cross section, with sides that slanted inward toward the roof line (both features are duplicated on our model). It was quiet and fast, with a top speed of over 100 mph. For safety, the UP painted the train Armour yellow for visibility and installed a skyward-facing beacon just behind the headlight, to warn bystanders of the train's rapid approach. The Little Zip was the first train to wear the bright yellow that soon became a UP trademark.
At first glance, the distinctive look of the M-10000 and the small feet of UP streamliners it spawned in the mid-1930s seems unrelated to later passenger trains. Indeed the M-10000's semi-permanently coupled articulated trainset soon proved impractical, and its monstrous nose air intake, echoed by the 1934 Chrysler Airflow, quickly became yesterday's design. But look closely at the Little Zip's turret cab and rounded nose - reputedly styled by the GM Styling Department under legendary automotive designer Harley Earl - and you'll see the genesis of the EMD E-units and F-units that became the most recognized first-generation diesels. The crew position high above the rails, protected by the engine's GM-styled nose and offering a panoramic view of the road ahead, was descended not from the shovel-nosed Zephyrs but from the M-10000 and its siblings.
With M.T.H.'s M10000, you'll have an accurate, full-scale model of the pioneering train that prompted one bystander to observe, "They really don't run this Union Pacific Train. They just aim and fire it."