1989 Eagle Model 20 (Build #90052, Fleet #402)

Rugged good looks backed up with outstanding durability


1989 Eagle Model 20 bus on side of road near Murchison Victoria

(Click on photos to enlarge) - Images free to share and distribute

The Story

1956 Golden Eagle bus prototype.
Continental Trailways 1956 Golden Eagle prototype by Kassbohrer, Eagle publicity photos from Bus World, courtesy of Fred Rayman

The first Eagle was built in 1956 for Continental Trailways USA, as a competitor to Greyhound’s GM PD 4501 Scenicruiser. After failing to find a US builder who would build the Eagle on Continental Trailways concepts and terms, they shifted their search to Ireland, the UK and Europe and eventually found a willing builder; Kassbohrer in Ulm, Germany.

Those early Eagles, dubbed Golden Eagles, owing to their golden aluminium panels, featured a rear viewing lounge, a galley, tables and a rather unusual front end design. They were powered by MAN V8 diesel engines initially with pre-selector 6 speed transmissions but later models had a 5 speed version. Next in 1958 was the Silver Eagle, also from Kassbohrer, which was more conventional in its body design and better suited to line haul work. Regular Kassbohrer Eagle production concluded in 1958 but four 60 foot articulated Super Golden Eagles were built by Kassbohrer in 1959. The Super Golden Eagles were powered by Rolls Royce diesel engines with ZF 10 speed transmissions.

Continental Trailways advertising featuring a 1965-67 Model 01 Silver Eagle bus and a 1964 Golden Eagle Model 01 bus
Continental Trailways advertising featuring a 1965/67 Model 01 Silver Eagle on the left and a 1964 Golden Eagle Model 01 on the right

In 1960, Continental Trailways began an arrangement with La Brugeoise, SA in Brugge, Belgium, where they agreed to build the Silver Eagle while Continental Trailways began construction of their own plant. La Brugeoise, SA introduced the Model 01 in 1960 with many new and updated features including a more conventional front and rear design. Engines for the La Brugeoise built Eagles were Cummins NRTO or Detroit Diesel 8V71N and were fitted in the USA along with 4 speed Spicer transmissions. The Detroit Diesel 8V71 eventually became the standard engine used in Eagle coaches.

In late 1961, Continental Trailways opened its own factory in Brugge, Belgium. The new venture was called Bus and Car NV, and it assumed production from La Brugeoise, SA of the Model 01 but with minor changes including a revised grille arrangement.

Greyhound 1975 Eagle Model 05 bus, Caulfield South VIC, Photo taken April 1981.
Greyhound 1975 Silver Eagle Model 05 #552 (later #518), Caulfield South VIC, April 1981

The Silver Eagle Model 05 with a more squared off appearance, commenced production in 1968 at Bus and Car NV, Belgium and was built there until 1976. In the late 1960s, Continental Trailways sold Bus and Car NV to Western Sales Company which later changed its name to Overseas Inns SA to raise cash for expansion of Trailways services in the USA. Continental Trailways retained exclusive rights to the Silver Eagle design and ownership of the jigs and building equipment and Bus and Car NV was contracted to continue building the Silver Eagle. In 1974, Bus and Car NV set up Eagle International in Brownsville, Texas USA to build the Model 05 in addition to the Belgian plant. The last year that Continental Trailways USA purchased Belgian built Eagles was 1976. As Golden Eagles were last produced in 1971, the Silver Eagle insignia was dropped in 1976 and “Silver Eagle” became known simply as “Eagle”.

Batterham’s 1976 Eagle Model 05 bus, Circular Quay, Sydney NSW, Photo taken February 1980
Batterham’s 1976 Silver Eagle Model 05, Circular Quay, Sydney NSW, February 1980
Eagle Model 05 bus 1976/1977 model brochure cover, from Bus and Car NV stickered over with MOL NV-EAGLE BUS, Brugge, Belgium
1976/77 Eagle Model 05 brochure cover (from Bus and Car NV stickered over with MOL NV-EAGLE BUS, Brugge, Belgium)

In October 1977, Overseas Inns SA sold the Bus and Car NV Belgian plant to MOL NV, a heavy truck and trailer maker from Brugge, Belgium. MOL NV sold the remaining stock of Eagles it inherited from Bus and Car NV to customers in Europe, Middle East, South Africa and Australia (Greyhound) over the next 7 years. Only a small number of Eagles were completely built by MOL NV.

Eagle Model 05 bus, 1983 model with Greyhound livery with Pioneer MCI MC7. Photo taken in Melbourne VIC in June 1984.
Greyhound 1983 Eagle Model 05 #527, 38 feet, with Pioneer MCI MC7, Melbourne VIC, June 1984
(38 footers can be identified by a shorter third baggage door and a shorter front passenger side window)
Eagle Model 05 bus brochure page, 1979 model, from Eagle International, Brownsville Texas, USA
1979 Eagle Model 05 brochure page (from Eagle International, Brownsville Texas, USA)

In 1980, the Eagle Model 10 was introduced and by May 1981, Trailways Inc. had taken full ownership of Eagle International from Overseas Inns SA. A new plant, Trailways Manufacturing Inc. Harlingen, Texas, which was around 25 miles from Brownsville, was opened in 1982 to meet extra demand but only operated for three years. A 102 inches wide Golden Eagle II (Model 15) was released in 1985 and in 1988, the 96 inches wide Eagle Model 20.

Greyhound 1983 Eagle Model 10 bus, Brisbane QLD, Photo taken September 1984.
Greyhound 1983 Eagle Model 10 #1002, Brisbane QLD, September 1984
Greyhound 1983 Eagle Model 10 bus, side and rear, Brisbane QLD, Photo taken September 1984.
Greyhound 1983 Eagle Model 10 #1002, Brisbane QLD, September 1984

Eagle had excellent sales in 1988 and 1989. But Greyhound Lines, Eagle International’s parent company since 1987, declared bankruptcy in 1990. Eagle was then sold in 1991 to Mexican company, Corporative Empresarial de Mexico, that also operated Moto Diesel Mexicana (the Detroit Diesel licensee for Mexico) and was run under their subsidiary Grupo & Ruvesa S.A. De C.V.
Eagle production resumed under the new name of Eagle Coach Corporation in July 1992 but ceased in January 1998 when Grupo & Ruvesa S.A. De C.V. filed for bankruptcy.

Eagle Model 05 bus, 1982 model with Greyhound livery. Photo taken at Canberra Terminal ACT inFebruary 1984.
Greyhound 1982 Eagle Model 05 #525, Canberra Terminal ACT, February 1984

Greyhound was the prime user of Eagles in Australia with the first Eagle Model 05 arriving in 1973. Greyhound was established in Toowoomba, QLD Australia in 1928 by A.R. Penfold. It was A.R. Penfold’s son Russell that had the initiative to bring the Eagle coaches into Australia. All told, 40 Model 05s and 13 Model 10s were operated by Greyhound, a Model 05 for Batterham’s, a Model 15 (Europe number; plated as a Model 05 in Australia) for Trailer Tours and a Model 10 and a Model 20 (plated as a Model 10LT in Australia) for Lever Coachlines. Lever later acquired Batterham’s Model 05. An overall total of 57 Eagles operated in Australia.

Eagle Model 05 bus, 1976 model with Lever's livery. Photo taken in Queanbeyan NSW in February 1984.
Lever’s 1976 Silver Eagle Model 05 #502, ex Batterham’s, Queanbeyan NSW, February 1984

Both Greyhound’s Eagles and Pioneer’s MCIs were the flagship coaches for interstate express during the 70s and 80s in Australia, with both companies having routes that criss-crossed the country. Every long distance driver seemed to have an opinion on which coach they favoured, Eagle or MCI. One thing never disputed was the handling of the Eagle. The Eagle’s ‘torsilastic’ torsion bar suspension prevented the coach from leaning in corners and provided outstanding handling and ride. The downside was that unless the shock absorbers were in top condition the Eagles were sometimes known to have a bucking motion in their ride.



Eagle M12 bus brochure page, 1977
1977 Eagle M12 brochure page (from MOL-Eagle Bus, Brugge Belgium)

The most prolific and well known Eagle models were the Model 01, 05, 10 and 15 but Eagle built many other models over the years with some specific to particular markets and regions. Following is a list of ‘other Eagle models’ with some basic notes.

Golden Eagle (from 1956), Silver Eagle (from 1958), Academy Express (1957, articulated)
Super Golden Eagle (1959, articulated)



Model 01 1960-68 1960-68, high volume model built primarily for Continental Trailways, USA
Model 02 1964 1964, one only, 40’ long, 102” wide, 2 axle (it is unclear if this is a Model 02 or 03)
Model 03 1967 transit bus, low volume (it is unclear if this is a Model 03 or 02)
Model 04 Sightseer, Europe, UK and Morocco, DD 6V53 engine, some found their way to the USA
Model 05 1968-80 high volume model sold in global markets but primarily Trailways USA
Model 06 Not built, this model number was possibly intended to be an articulated transit bus
Model 07 1969 102” wide body but with standard 96” width axles
Model 09 1971 20 built for South Africa in RHD, 38’ approx length, 98.5” wide
Model 10 1980-87 high volume model for global markets but primarily for Trailways USA, 2 or 3 axle
Model 12 1972-77 designated as M12, Europe and Thailand, 2 axle, 11.3 metres (37’), DD 6V71 engine
Model 14 1974 transit bus, Belgium, Daimler Benz engine
Model 15 (EU) 1977 designated as M15, different lengths, windscreen heights and axle positions.
Model 15 (US) 1985-98 102” wide, USA and Mexico, 35’, 40’ and 45’ lengths
Model 16 1976 transit bus, Belgium, Caterpillar engine
Model 17 1970s Transit bus, Europe, Israel and Sth Africa, DD 6V71 engine
Model 20 1988-90 US, Mexico and Australia, 96” width, 35’, 40’ and 45’ lengths
Model 20C 1977-78 MOL-Eagle chassis, Irizar body
Model 20A 1993 Eagle ‘Commuter 1’ body, Mexico, Mercedes Benz 1417 chassis
Eagle M15 and M17 bus brochure page, 1977
1977 Eagle M15 and M17 brochure page (from MOL-Eagle Bus, Brugge Belgium)
Eagle Model 20 bus, 1989 model with no bullbar. Photo taken in Queanbeyan NSW in January 1990.
Lever 1989 Eagle Model 20 when 6 months old, without a bull bar, Queanbeyan NSW, January 1990

Our Eagle is the Model 20 built in Brownsville, Texas USA. Originally new to Lever Coach Lines, Queanbeyan NSW, later passing to Narooma Bus Lines, NSW and onto collector Rob Verhagen, Gold Coast, QLD, before being acquired by Driver Classics in 2014. It was the last Eagle delivered in Australia and although it is a Model 20, it was designated as a Model 10LT RH to avoid re-assessment for Australian Design Rule requirements, as it was essentially the same as the Model 10.

This Eagle Model 20 is powered by a GM Detroit Diesel V6 2 stroke diesel, 552ci model 6V92TA, rear mounted in-line, with an Allison HT750 automatic transmission.

Information referenced for this story was from Modern Intercity Coaches by Larry Plachno, Bus World’s Eagle Special by Joe Richards, Motorcoach Milestones by Robert L Smith and Phoenix Coach Global.






Complete Australian Eagle Fleet List
– COMPILED OCTOBER 21 2021 - UPDATED NOVEMBER 16 2021

This list, based on a hand written fleet table of unknown origin, was compiled by Gary Driver with assistance from Paul Wright, Russell Penfold, Norton Weir, Ian Lynas, Ralf Boetker, Daniel Lenz (USA) and Robert Smith (USA).

Unless noted otherwise, all Eagle Model 05s were powered by Detroit Diesel 8V71 engines with 4 speed Spicer transmissions, were 40 feet long and 98.5 inches wide.

Eagle Model 10s were powered by Detroit Diesel 6V92TA engines with Allison automatic transmissions, were 40 feet long and 96 inches wide


 
Eagle Model 05
BUILD # MODEL BUILDER FLEET # IN SERVICE REG # OPERATOR & NOTES
9276 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 501 10/73 RMJ-501 Greyhound - Penfold
9277 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 502 10/73 RMJ-502 Greyhound - Penfold
9278 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 503 10/73 RMJ-503 Greyhound - Penfold
9279 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 504 10/73 RMJ-504 Greyhound - Penfold
9280 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 505 10/73 OKA-505 Greyhound - Penfold
9281 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 506 11/73 OKA-506 Greyhound - Penfold
9282 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 507 11/73 OHH-507 Greyhound - Penfold
9358 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 508 1/74 OJA-508 Greyhound - Penfold
9391 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 509 4/74 OJM-509 Greyhound - Penfold
9392 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 510 4/74 OIM-510 Greyhound - Penfold
9659 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 551/517* 12/75 OQU-551 Greyhound - Sinclair Northern
9660 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 552/518* 12/75 OQU-552 Greyhound - Sinclair Northern
9661 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 553/519* 12/75 ORW-896 Greyhound - Sinclair Northern
9669 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 561 12/75 SRN-214 Greyhound - Stateliner
9721 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 562 6/76 SFR-118 Greyhound - Stateliner
9722 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 563 6/76 SFR-119 Greyhound - Stateliner
9723 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 564 1/77 SRR-532 Greyhound - Stateliner
9724 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 565 1/77 SRR-533 Greyhound - Stateliner
9725 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 554/520* 6/76 OUA-587 Greyhound - Sinclair Northern
9726 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 555/521* 6/76 OUA-588 Greyhound - Sinclair Northern
9736 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 566 1977 SFV-267 Greyhound - Stateliner
9737 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 567 1977 SFV-266 Greyhound - Stateliner
9741 Eagle Model 05E Bus and Car   11/76 TV-588
MO-5814
Batterhams NSW to Lever #502 in 1983
9742 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 568 1977 SSA-428 Greyhound - Stateliner
9747 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 511 1977 OWX-511 Greyhound - Penfold
9748 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 569 1977 SSA-427 Greyhound - Stateliner
9749 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 512 3/77 OYC-512 Greyhound - Penfold
9750 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 514 3/77 OYC-514 Greyhound - Penfold
9751 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 556/522* 7/77 116-NAO Greyhound - Sinclair Northern
9752 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 557/523* 7/77 557-NAV Greyhound - Sinclair Northern
9753 Eagle Model 05 Bus and Car 515 2/77 815-NAV Greyhound - Penfold
9754*** Eagle Model 05 MOL NV **
(Bus and Car)
516 2/77 516-NDA Greyhound - Penfold
9754***
(7087)
Eagle Model 15
(Plated Model 05 for Australia)
MOL NV
Eagle Bus
 1977
To AUS 2/84
TV-535Trailer Tours - Parramatta Ryde NSW, ex Cronin’s/Funtrek #98, County Cork, Ireland
9755 Eagle Model 05 MOL NV **
(Bus and Car)
570 1977 SHS-778 Greyhound - Stateliner
9756 Eagle Model 05
(built 1977)
MOL NV **
(Bus and Car)
524 12/82 524-OOH Greyhound - Penfold
9757 Eagle Model 05
(built 1977)
MOL NV **
(Bus and Car)
525 12/82 525-OOH Greyhound - Penfold
9758 Eagle Model 05
(built 1977)
MOL NV **
(Bus and Car)
526 12/82 526-OOH Greyhound - Penfold
9759 Eagle Model 15
(Built 1977, plated Model 05 for Australia in 1983)
MOL NV **
(Bus and Car)
527 11/83 527-OVE 96 inches wide, 38 feet long, ZF 6 speed, allocated by MOL to Sima Tours, Belgium in 1980, but sold new to Greyhound-Penfold in 1983
9760 Eagle Model 15
(Built 1977, plated Model 05 for Australia in 1983)
MOL NV **
(Bus and Car)
528 11/83 528-OVE 96 inches wide, 38 feet long, ZF 6 speed, allocated by MOL to Sima Tours, Belgium in 1980, but sold new to Greyhound-Penfold in 1983
9761 Eagle Model 15
(Built 1977, plated Model 05 for Australia in 1984)
MOL NV **
(Bus and Car)
529 1984 529-PAA 96 inches wide, ZF 6 speed, allocated by MOL to Centroturist, Belgrado Yugoslavia in 1981, but sold new to Greyhound-Penfold in 1984
9762 Eagle Model 15
(Built 1977, plated Model 05 for Australia in 1984)
MOL NV **
(Bus and Car)
530 1984 530-PAA 96 inches wide, ZF 6 speed, allocated by MOL to Centroturist, Belgrado Yugoslavia in 1981, but sold new to Greyhound-Penfold in 1984
9763 Eagle Model 15
(Built 1977, plated Model 05 for Australia in 1984)
MOL NV **
(Bus and Car)
531 1984 531-PAA 96 inches wide, ZF 6 speed, allocated by MOL to Centroturist, Belgrado Yugoslavia in 1981, but sold new to Greyhound-Penfold in 1984
 
Eagle Model 10
BUILD # MODEL BUILDER FLEET # IN SERVICE REG # OPERATOR & NOTES
60000 Eagle Model 10R Trailways Manufacturing Harlingen TX 1052 10/83 UGD-681 Greyhound - Stateliner
60001 Eagle Model 10R Trailways Manufacturing Harlingen TX 1001 10/83 TEN-01 Greyhound - Penfold
60002 Eagle Model 10R Trailways Manufacturing Harlingen TX 1002 12/83 TEN-02 Greyhound - Penfold
60003 Eagle Model 10R Trailways Manufacturing Harlingen TX 1003 10/83 TEN-03 Greyhound - Penfold
60004 Eagle Model 10R Trailways Manufacturing Harlingen TX 1004 10/83 TEN-04 Greyhound - Penfold
60005 Eagle Model 10R Eagle Int’l Brownsville TX 1051 10/83 UGD-679 Greyhound - Stateliner
60006 Eagle Model 10R Trailways Manufacturing Harlingen TX 1053 10/83 UMD-638 Greyhound - Stateliner
60007 Eagle Model 10R Trailways Manufacturing Harlingen TX 1054 11/83 UBD-994 Greyhound - Stateliner
60008 Eagle Model 10R Trailways Manufacturing Harlingen TX 1055 11/83 UBD-995 Greyhound - Stateliner
60009 Eagle Model 10R Trailways Manufacturing Harlingen TX 1005 10/83 TEN-05 Greyhound - Penfold
60010 Eagle Model 10R Trailways Manufacturing Harlingen TX 1001 7/84 MO-1 Lever NSW to Fallon VIC, Simms TAS
60011 Eagle Model 10R Eagle Int’l Brownsville TX 1006 12/84 TEN-06 Greyhound - Penfold
60012 Eagle Model 10R Eagle Int’l Brownsville TX 1007 10/84 TEN-07 Greyhound - Penfold
60013 Eagle Model 10R Eagle Int’l Brownsville TX 1008 10/84 TEN-08 Greyhound - Penfold
 
Eagle Model 20
BUILD # MODEL BUILDER FLEET # IN SERVICE REG # OPERATOR & NOTES
90052 Eagle Model 20
(Plated Model 10LT RH for Australia)
Eagle Int’l Brownsville TX4026/89MO-3Lever NSW to Symons NSW, Verhagen QLD, Driver Classics VIC



NOTES:

The original hand written Australian fleet list shows another Model 05 from 1977, build # 9764, fleet #532, but its existence is unable to be substantiated so it has been omitted.



*The Eagle Model 05s that were new to Greyhound - Sinclair Northern in Victoria were numbered 551 through to 557 but were renumbered 517 through to 523 in 1982 when ownership passed to Greyhound - Penfold in Queensland.



**MOL NV (Bus and Car) Eagle Model 05s were built in 1977 by Bus and Car NV and were sold new by MOL NV to Greyhound Australia in 1982 after they converted them to Right Hand Drive (RHD).

Other Bus and Car NV built 1977 Eagle Model 05s and Model 15s were sold by MOL NV between 1977 and 1984 to European operators and some were later acquired by Greyhound Australia new from MOL NV and again converted to RHD by MOL NV before arriving in Australia plated as Model 05s. According to Eagle production records, build numbers 9759 and 9760 were allocated to Sima Tours, Belgium in 1980 but delivered new to Greyhound in 1983. Both of these Eagles have been visually noted in Australia with French writing inside.

Eagle production records identify build numbers 9761-63 were allocated to Centroturist, Belgrado Yugoslavia in 1981. Also listed alongside Centroturist is Flying Eagle, Cairo Egypt. It remains unclear why two companies were shown.

It is believed the only Eagle completely built by MOL NV on this list is Trailer Tours/Parramatta Ryde Bus Service 1977 Eagle Model 05, which arrived in Australia second hand from Ireland as a Model 15 in 1984 and then plated in Australia as a Model 05.



***According to Eagle production lists the same build number, 9754, was used by Bus and Car for Greyhound fleet #516, a 1977 Eagle Model 05 and later by MOL for Trailer Tours 1977 Model 15, later to be plated as an Eagle Model 05 for Australia. A different build number, 7087 has been visually noted on this Eagle in Australia, but that number was allocated to a Bus and Car built 1966 Eagle Model 01.

Eagle Model 05 bus, 1977 model with Trailer Tours livery. Photo taken in August 1984.
Trailer Tours - Parramatta Ryde 1977 Eagle Model 05, August 1984 (BCSV photo)
(Built as a Model 15 but plated as a Model 05 in Australia. Note lazy axle is at the rear and it has higher windscreens with no destination sign)