The 2333 F3 AA diesels of 1948 were an entirely new look and direction for Lionel. Up to that point in time, Lionel s motive power fleet consisted of several uninspiring black steam locomotives and a single -- darkly painted -- GG1. This new diesel -- particularly in the Santa Fe livery -- stood out as a total departure to anything Lionel was currently manufacturing. Luckily for Lionel, the public immediately fell in love with the look and power of the F3.
Looking back, it s hard to image the F3 was a huge gamble by Lionel. To help offset some of the risk, Lionel s partnered up with three other corporations on the F3 project; General Motors, the New York Central railroad and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad. Each of these companies financially contributed to the development of the F3 in return for advertising on the new diesel. Needless to say, all three companies have received a tremendous amount of advertising from the F3 project during the prior half-century. For New York Central fans, Lionel continued to make several variations of an NYC F3 for eight more years. For Santa Fe enthusiasts, their roadname would continue for 18 years!
Collectors and operators continue to search for these early F3's. Their proven reliability, durability and attention to detail is second to none. Although these early F3's lack Magnetraction, their sheer weight permits them to transport long freight trains around a layout with ease. With features such as wire cloth ventilators, portholes with clear lens, cab ladders and grab irons on the nose, these features are still used by current toy train manufacturers as the standard for excellence.