The Budd Company (now ThyssenKrupp Budd) is a metal fabricator and major supplier of body components to the automobile industry. The company's headquarters are in Troy, Michigan. It was founded in 1912 by Edward G. Budd, whose fame came from his company's invention of the 'shotweld' technique for joining pieces of stainless steel without damaging its anti-corrosion properties.
From the 1930s until 1989 the Budd Company was a leading manufacturer of stainless steel streamlined passenger rolling stock for a number of railroads. After briefly dabbling with French Michelin rubber-tired technology, they built the Pioneer Zephyr for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1934, and hundreds of streamlined lightweight stainless steel passenger cars for new trains in the USA in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1949, Budd built ten prototype stainless steel R11 subway cars for the New York Board of Transportation; these were intended for the Second Avenue Subway. In the 1950s Budd built a set of two-story or high-level cars for the Santa Fe's El Capitan and Super Chief passenger trains, which became the prototypes for the Amtrak Superliner cars of the 1980s. Budd also built two-story gallery passenger cars for Chicago-area commuter service on the Milwaukee Road, Burlington Route, and Rock Island lines during the 1960s and 1970s; most of these cars are still in service on today's Metra routes. Stainless steel Budd cars originally built for the Canadian Pacific Railway's 1955 train The Canadian are still in service with Via Rail Canada. Since 1951 two formations of 6 Budd cars operated by Ferrobaires, run a weekly service called "El Marplatense" from Buenos Aires to the ocean-side city of Mar del Plata in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, the cars were originally built for the Chesapeake & Ohio RR. Budd-patented processes and designs were also used in France and Belgium after World War 2 to construct SNCF electric-powered multiple-unit cars, push-pull suburban trainsets, Wagons-Lits [CIWL] sleeping cars and even a small class of SNCF and SNCB four-current six-axle high speed electric locomotives for Trans Europ Express service between Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.
In 1949, Budd introduced the Rail Diesel Car or RDC, a stainless steel self-propelled 'train in one car' which expanded rail service on lightly populated railway lines and provided an adaptable car for suburban commuter service. More than 300 RDCs were built, and some are still in service in Canada, the USA and Australia. In the 1960s, Budd built the Pioneer III electric m.u. coach for intercity travel. Six were bought by the former Pennsylvania Railroad, but in 1966, these were replaced with the "Silverliner II" cars, which used an improved Pioneer III body for Philadelphia-area commuter rail service on the PRR and Reading Company lines. Budd was contracted to build the original Metroliner m.u. coaches for service on the Northeast Corridor, but these have been either retired or de-powered and used as cab cars. The "Silverliner II" cars, now slated to be retired starting in 2010 with the new ROTEM-built "Silverliner V" models, have a top speed of 90 mph, but ran at up to 100 mph when the PRR used them for Philadelphia-Harrisburg service. The Metroliner m.u. cars operated at 110 to 125 mph, although breakdowns in the system led Amtrak to derate them to 90 mph, despite the advertised speed of 150 mph – speeds achieved by Amtrak's TGV-based Acela service. Since their retirement from regular service, Amtrak has used the Metroliner m.u. coaches as cab-coaches on various services.
In 1960, Budd manufactured the first stainless steel production subway cars for Philadelphia's Market-Frankford Line. 270 M-3 cars (nicknamed "Almond Joys" because the four hump-shaped ventilators on the roof evoked the Almond Joy candy bar) were jointly owned by the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Transportation Company (now Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). 46 single units and 112 married pairs (the pairs were of "mixed" marriage because the odd-numbered car came with General Electric motors and equipment was permanently coupled to the even-numbered car, which had Westinghouse motors and equipment). These cars were replaced with more modern, air-conditioned M-4 units in 1997-99, although some cars were retrucked (the Market-Frankford line is a broad-gauge line with the running rails 5' 2.5" apart) and used on the Norristown High Speed Line (a standard railroad gauge line, with running rails 4' 8.5" apart) until 1995.
In 1930, the company made its first foray into the aviation industry by signing contracts to manufacture aircraft wheels & stainless steel wing ribs. Enea Bossi joined the company as the head of stainless steel research to supervise the design and construction of the 4-seat biplane amphibious Budd BB-1 Pioneer – the first aircraft with a structure built out of stainless steel.(photo) This was the first aircraft for the Budd Company, and it made its first flight in 1931. Built under Restricted License NR749, its design utilized concepts developed for the Savoia-Marchetti S-31 and was powered by a single 210 horsepower Kinner C-5 five-cylinder radial engine.
The stainless steel construction process for the BB-1 was patented in 1942. At the time, stainless steel was not considered practical; and only one BB-1 was built. It logged about 1,000 flying hours while touring the United States and Europe. In 1934, this plane was stripped of its fabric covering and its lower wing, and was mounted outside the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, where it remains to this day as the longest continuous display of any airplane. The plane has been memorialized in the children’s book Spirited Philadelphia Adventure by Deirdre Cimino.
During World War II, Budd designed and built the RB-1 transport airplane for the U.S. Navy using much stainless steel in place of aluminum. Only 25 were built but, after the war, 14 aircraft found their way to the fledgling Flying Tiger Line and provided a good start for that company.
In 1962, Budd produced a fully functional concept car, the XR-400, for evaluation by American Motors Corporation (AMC). It was designed to use AMC's existing chassis for the sporty-model market segment before the introduction of the Ford Mustang. The proposed car did not enter production.
There is an irony to the XR-400 story. Budd tried to sell the idea to Ford first. In 1961 Budd combined a 1957 Thunderbird body with a 1961 Ford Falcon chassis to produce a sporty convertible. When Ford turned them down, Budd shifted focus to AMC. Ford went on to base the Mustang on the Falcon chassis.
In 1966, Budd designed and manufactured a front disc brake system for Chrysler and Imperial automobiles, used for the 1967 and 1968 model years.
Budd also built two series of "L" cars for the Chicago Transit Authority, the 2200s (1969) and the 2600s (1981–1987). The New York City Subway R32 (1964-1965), the first PATCO Speedline cars (1968), Long Island Rail Road/Metro-North Railroad M-1/M-3 (1968–1973,1984-1986) and M-2 (1972-1977), SEPTA Silverliner IV and NJ Transit Arrow II (1974-1975), NJ Transit Arrow III (1978), Baltimore Metro and Miami Metrorail cars (1983) were also built by Budd.
Amtrak's 492 Amfleet I and 150 Amfleet II cars were built by Budd in 1975-77 and 1981-83. The Amfleet body was recycled for usage in the SPV2000, a modernized diesel passenger car which was very problematic, saw only three buyers (Amtrak, Metro-North and Connecticut Department of Transportation), and saw premature retirements within 15 years. The fallout from the SPV2000 furthered the company's decline.
In the early 1980s, Budd reorganized its rail operations under the name TransitAmerica, this name appearing on the builderplates of the Baltimore/Miami cars and Chicago's later order of 2600-series cars (but not the LIRR/MNCR M-3s). The new name did not save the company, and in April 1987 Budd ended all railcar production at its Red Lion plant in Northeast Philadelphia and sold its rail designs to Bombardier Transportation. Many of its engineers joined the staff of the Philadelphia office of Louis T. Klauder and Associates, a local railway vehicles and systems engineering consulting firm.
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has a number of Budd-built cars in its collection in Strasburg, Pennsylvania: The 1937 observation car built for the Reading Company "Crusader", Lehigh Valley Railroad rail diesel car of 1951, a pair of 1958 "Pioneer III" cars for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Pennsylvania Railroad 860, a Metroliner cafe-coach built in 1968.