One of the biggest announcements from this year’s Signature Catalog was the new Motor City Express set and the scale 89′ auto racks. We’ve heard lots of great buzz about these new cars, and we think you’ll be impressed.
89′ Auto Racks
Lionel is very pleased to be releasing a car that modern-era fans have been wanting for a long time. The 89′ enclosed autorack has been a fixture on North American rails for thirty years. We’ll go into more detail about the prototypes for these cars and their operations in this week’s Freight Car Friday blog. Their enormous size however has posed a challenge for our tight radius curves. At nearly two feet in length, these scale cars are almost as long as some curves are wide. Thanks to an innovative coupler drawbar, we can make these behemoths practical for a modest sized layout.
These self-adjusting couplers work like some of the drawbars on our recent steam locomotives, extending from the pocket to help get around curves as tight as O-54, then automatically retracting again to keep the cars looking right on straight track. The couplers also feature hidden uncoupling tabs. Beneath these cars, a pair of metal trucks with rotating roller bearing caps will keep these lengthy haulers rolling smoothly.
Of course not only do these cars have to run well, they have to look good too. Don’t let the size fool you, there will be lots of little details in these cars. Modern auto racks come in two basic configurations for hauling standard height cars and higher trucks, vans and SUVs. The latter can be stacked only two-high in a 19′ tall autorack, whereas three tiers of cars can be squeezed in. Lionel’s model will be of the bi-level or two-tier variety. Racks of this type can be found lettered for and operating on railroads all across the continent.
Lionel’s models will feature working doors on both ends, and see-through side panels so you’ll be able to appreciate the loads inside. We’ll be announcing loads for the cars in the very near future.
Perhaps the best news of all is that we have already dropped the price on these cars from $149.99 as shown in the catalog to $109.99! Individual cars are available decorated for Canadian National and Conrail.
Motor City Express Set
Stretching out to over nine feet in length, the Motor City Express is a whopper of a train even with just four cars. The four autoracks (CSX, Grand Trunk, Union Pacific and BNSF) all include each of the features described above. Plus, the BNSF rack features a working FRED on the rear.
To pull this monster consist, you need a big locomotive. And they don’t get much bigger than the SD80MAC. Now offered in CSX’s “YN-3” scheme, the LEGACY equipped locomotive has Odyssey II speed control and LEGACY sounds including crew talk, 8 diesel notches, the quillable horn, mechanical bell, 6 railroad speeds and the new Sequence Control for an interactive trip along with current speed and fuel dialog and refueling sounds.
We’ve refined the conventional transformer control to allow for lower starting speeds. The locomotive is powered by two maintenance-free motors and has traction tires and plenty of weight to keep these long trains rolling. The trucks, frame, pilot and fuel tank are all metal.
Lighting features include directional LED headlights and back-up lights, oscillating ditch lights, and illuminated marker lights, number boards and cab interior. There are numerous separate metal detail parts applied to this model, and working front and rear couplers. And of course a fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output completes the operating experience.
The CSX SD80MAC is available in the Motor City Express set (Road No. 809), or as a seperate model 6-38582 (Road No. 812) for $529.99. For really big consists, you could also add in a non-powered “dummy” unit, 6-38583 (Road No. 804) for $259.99. Although the auto racks are limited to O-54, the 80MAC will negotiate an O-36 curve.
Along with the price reduction on the individual auto racks, we’re very happy to announce that we’ve been able to lower the price on the set overall as well. The set has been reduced from $1,149.99 as cataloged to $969.99. That’s enough to get one of the add-on cars and still have some change left over!
Get ready, these sets are rolling to a dealer near you soon!