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GMC Mac Handcar
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The Lionel GMC Connection

This section is dedicated to the fascinating period 1949/50, during which time Lionel introduced their model number 622, the EMD Switcher locomotive.

The first image is the Lionel 622 model, as issued. The second image is how the model appears on page 100 of the 1950 Bantam publication, Model Railroading. The third image, from page 139 of the same publication, is the 1949 Lionel Showroom Layout, and shows a white switcher on the track outside the roundhouse. The model is often suggested to be by GMC, not Lionel, presumably because the Lionel model was not thought to be available to photograph at that time. The fourth and fifth images are again of the 1949 Showroom Layout. The sixth image, from Life magazine, shows a Lionel engineer inspecting a loco, which, again, is sometimes thought to be a GMC model. Image seven is an advertisement by GMC, for their Switcher, and the last image is the GMC Switcher, complete with box.

The truth? I doubt anyone will ever to able to prove whether or not Lionel used the GMC loco in their publicity photos, but I thinkthe balance of probabilities suggests they did not. A few (edited) words from well known Lionel authority Dennis Waldron :

Today many think that Lionel saw the GMC switcher and decided to model it, and when you look at the facts their assertions are made for no other reason than because the 622 looks similar. From a point of practicality it doesnít make sense. GMC (I believe) made their switcher available in the fall of 1948, but letís assume for the moment that they had it available as early as January of 1948 (a real feat in that time period). In order for Lionel to have the 622 in their 1949 catalog, which would have been at the presses by September, they would have had to have a mockup to use by at least June or July. Lionel would have had to have the switcher in their hands by May/June 1948. Not nearly enough time to create the engineering and tooling for a fall release of a product. Letís take this further because what else was going on at Lionel is relevant.
1. In 1947-48 Lionel was developing their first vertical motor, the 622-100X.
2. In 1947-48 Lionel was developing all new trucks to be used with their new vertical motor.
3. In 1947-48 Lionel was redesigning their coil couplers.
4. In 1947-48 Lionel was redesigning their diesel frames for use with their new motor design.
5. In 1947-48 Lionel was developing their new mid-class line around the Alco, its second vertical motor engine.

When one compares the two switch engines, there are no similarities of construction other than an image of a switcher, and those images are poor at best. The frame, motor, reversing unit and everything else is entirely different. To design and engineer an engine with the features incorporated by Lionel (as opposed to GMC) for release for Christmas 1948 and spring of 1949 relying on a GMC would have been utter nonsense. It has also been suggested that the picture in the September 5th 1949 issue of Life Magazine may be that of a Lionel engineer ďpossiblyĒ examining a GMC switcher. While it is possible, what would be the need? The picture is described as being that of a meeting Lionelís officers and engineers studying a new diesel. Why or how can anyone suggest that this is a GMC switcher? September 1949, well into Lionelís production of the 622.

I have a mold sample of a gray (marbled) 622 body sample.

Lionel 622
Lionel 622
Lionel 622
Lionel 622
Lionel 1949 showroom layout
Showroom Layout
Lionel 1949 showroom layout
Showroom Layout
Lionel 1949 showroom layout
Showroom Layout
Life magazine
Life Magazine
GMC Advertisement
Advertisement
GMC Model
GMC Model

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