Eagle Cars Limited

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Later, front-engined Eagle SS

Eagle Cars Limited was an English company, based in Lancing, West Sussex, originally operated by Allen Breeze, although it has undergone a number of ownership changes since.[1] Originally making a Jeep lookalike called the RV, between 1981 and 1998 they built several iterations of a gull-winged car called the Eagle SS. The SS was based on an American kit car called the Cimbria (itself based on the earlier Sterling, which in turn was a copy of the British Nova), and was brought to the UK by Tim Dutton (of Dutton Cars). In 1988 Eagle Cars moved inland, to nearby Storrington.[2]

Company history[edit]

Founded by Tim Dutton (of Dutton Cars) Allen Breeze in 1981, the company was sold to trials motorcyclist Rob Budd in 1989. Eagle Cars Limited changed location again in the nineties, moving to Walberton (still in West Sussex).

The company officially ceased trading in 1998, but production had ended long before. The moulds and rights to Eagle's various cars are currently unknown, ref name=EOC/> 2012 update; all moulds, both SS and RV have been lost as far as the Eagle Owners Club www.eagleownersclub.org.uk can establish. The SS moulds were sold by Tim Naylor of TEAC Sports Cars in 2012 on eBay to a buyer from Wexford, nothing more has been heard of them since. The fate of the RV moulds is also unknown.

2016 update; A company in Belgium, Poly-Creations, has advertised they are able to produce NEW SS kits, (as well as the Nova and others)

Eagle SS[edit]

Late version with different headlights

As with so many of its kit car brethren, the dramatic bodywork of the Eagle SS hid humble VW Beetle underpinnings. The bodywork was from glass fiber-reinforced plastic (GFRP), molded in a single colour. The total weight of a finished SS was promised to be around 750 kg (1,653 lb), which meant performance was considerably improved over that of a standard Beetle. A top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph) with a tuned VW engine was also promised.[3] The most obvious difference to the Cimbria, upon which the Eagle SS was based, was the Cimbria's flip-up headlights: Eagle chose to equip their version with round, rear-folding headlights in the style of the Porsche 928.[4]

Three basic versions were produced; MkI, had a separate internal roll cage, long nose, windows hinged at the front edge. Both bonnet and boot lids had ribbed sections, boot lid ribs could be opened up as louvers for better air flow for the VW engine if desired. MkII went through the most changes it has a shorter removable nose section, built in roll cage on later models and the addition of a Ford-based model, longer side windows hinged from front bottom and top corners. Ford versions had the bump on the bonnet to accommodate the engine and later version had smooth boot lids with the ribs removed. MkIII, back to one piece nose, slightly higher roof, both versions now had built in steel bars to the cabin area. Side windows as MkII.

Chassis was an unshortened version at 2,400 mm (94.5 in), while the car was 4,240 mm (166.9 in) long, 1,780 mm (70.1 in) wide, and a mere 1,040 mm (40.9 in) high. First mentioned in 1984, a targa-roofed 2+2-seater version called the 2 Plus was also available, with only a slight weight penalty.[5][6]

Front-engined version[edit]

Late Eagle SS, rear view

Later, Eagle engineered a front-engined, tubular framed chassis for the SS. This used Ford Cortina running gear, and was easily recognized by its conspicuous (and odd-looking) bonnet bulge.[4] Eagle also claimed it possible and indeed has been done, to fit this version of the SS with Rover's familiar 3.5-litre V8.[7] At least one car was built on the Ford Sierra 4x4 running gear but sadly the EOC has been informed it suffered in a roof collapse and is no longer a viable repair.

The Series 3 SS was somewhat taller, at 1,120 mm (44.1 in).

In 2005 the rights (and the dormant moulds) to the Eagle SS were rescued from a Kent boat yard by Tim Naylor of TEAC Sports Cars.[1] Unfortunately, Tim was unable to raise sufficient interest in the revised mid-engine MkIV SS based on a Toyota MR2 donor which was exhibited at Stoneleigh in 2006, and the project has since been sold on eBay in 2010 to a buyer in Wexford.

Since then TEAC has ceased to exist and all trace of the SS moulds have disappeared, The RV moulds were apparently seized by bailiffs and have also vanished, all attempts to trace the whereabouts of all Eagle moulds has drawn a blank as of November 2012. Anyone knowing where they are should contact the Eagle Owners Club. www.eagleownersclub.org.uk

Approximately only 340 of each version (VW and Ford) covering all three marks were made, a total of 680+ cars of which 180 are accounted for on the E.O.C. register (http://www.eagleownersclub.org.uk/Eagle%20register%20for%20web.htm)and under a handful are currently on the road (DVLA Jan 2014)

Other Models[edit]

Eagle Cars' fibreglass-bodied Jeep-lookalike, the Jeep RV,[8] was built around Ford Cortina parts. There was also an Eagle RV 4X4 (Range Rover, later also Daihatsu Fourtrak/Rocky based), unusual for kit cars in that it had four-wheel drive. The RV used an X-braced ladder frame and the expected Ford engines, although the Ford Capri's 3-litre V6 and the usual Rover V8 were also possible fitments,[9] while the Eagle 4x4 was available with a whole host of different engines from Rover, Mercedes, Peugeot, or Ford.[10] Later a Ford Sierra-based two-seater, two-door convertible (also available with a hardtop) called the Milan 2 Plus.[2] This was first seen in 1988 and was co-developed with "Milan-Automobile" of Remscheid, Germany.[7] Since it accepted all Sierra underpinnings, the Milan was available with engines ranging from 1.6 to 2.8 litres and with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.[11] During the eighties, an RV Jeep Series II was developed, using more modern Ford Sierra parts.[9]

Eagle also offered modified versions of the sporting 2-seater Dutton Phaeton using Ford Escort Mk I and Mk II parts, called the Eagle P21 and P25.[1] These could accept a multitude of engines, ranging from the donor Escort's four-cylinder to a Rover V8.[12] They were 3,530 mm (139.0 in) long, 1,574 mm (62.0 in) wide and 1,194 mm (47.0 in) tall.[13]

Eagle's last development was the Stendetto, a Ferrari F40 lookalike sportscar based on Pontiac Fiero.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Erwin, Daryl. "History: A brief history of the Eagle Kit Car range 1981 - 1998". Eagle Owners Club. Archived from the original on 2010-10-06. 
  2. ^ a b Bellu, René, ed. (September 1989). Salon: Toutes les Voitures du Monde 89/90 (in French). Paris: l'Auto Journal (15 & 16): 343.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Auto Katalog 1983. Stuttgart: Vereinigte Motor-Verlage GmbH & Co. KG. 1982. p. 86. 
  4. ^ a b "History Pages: The Cimbria and its derivatives (1975-mid '90s)". SterlingKitCars.com. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  5. ^ Auto Katalog 1985. Stuttgart: Vereinigte Motor-Verlage GmbH & Co. KG. 1984. p. 86. 
  6. ^ BilKatalogen 1989. Stockholm, Sweden: PM Press AB. 1988. pp. 234–235.  (Swedish issue of German Auto Katalog)
  7. ^ a b Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1990). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1990 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. p. 205. 
  8. ^ Salon 89/90, p. 170
  9. ^ a b "Eagle RV from Eagle Cars". Madabout-kitcars.com. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  10. ^ Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1990, p. 1237
  11. ^ BilKatalogen 1989, p. 118
  12. ^ "Eagle P21 from Eagle Cars". Madabout-kitcars.com. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  13. ^ Negyesi, Pal. "British Specialty Cars - Eagle". KTUD Online Automotive Archive. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 

External links[edit]