Eagle International - 1975-present - Brownsville, Texas

Eagle Buses and Coaches

by John Veerkamp

The Eagle coach was the result of a contact between Continental Trailways in the United States and the Karl Kassbohrer bus and coachbuilding firm in Germany. Kassbohrer had introduced its integral coach range in the beginning of the 1950s. These were called Selbst Tragend (self-carrying). Kassbohrer also was a pioneer for articulated buses in Europe and its patented trailer section was dominating the market for a decade or so. One result of the contacts was the export in 1956 of two articulated coach for Trailways, built on an underfloor Henschel chassis with Kassbohrer bodywork and trailer. Also in 1956, Kassboher built a high specification 40 foot 3-axle coach especially designed for Trailways. In May 1957, Trailways director Mr. Moore and Mr. Otto Kassbohrer christened this coach the "Golden Eagle" during a ceremony in Germany. This coach was a success, and fifty coaches with MAN engines were delivered in 1957 and 1958. In 1958, 41 more Eagles were be built by Kassbohrer, though this batch was to a lower specification. These were called "Silver Eagles", as the "golden" sides changed to "silver" at the same time.

The result with the articulated coach was such that Trailways ordered four articulated coaches with the Golden Eagle design. These coaches were delivered in 1958. They featured underfloor Rolls Royce engines and a Kassbohrer trailing section, but had the same body design as the rigid examples. However, Trailways decided to standardize on the Silver Eagle rigid coach, and no more articulated Eagles were built.

Around 1958, Kassbohrer announced its decision to concentrate on the European market and declined to build more Eagle coaches for Trailways. Trailways looked for another European partner that was found in the form of La Brugeoise in Belgium, an old company mainly building railway equipment. In 1960-1961, La Brugeoise built 185 Silver Eagles of a somewhat different design, called Model 01. In 1961 the Bus & Car factory was opened. Low labor costs were apparently the main reason for the decision to build the coaches in Belgium, using many US components, and then transporting the vehicles to the US. Bus & Car built the Model 01 until 1968, when the new Model 05 was introduced. The main visible difference was the interchange of the rear axles, with the tag axle being placed in front of the main axle, providing for more luggage space, however this change also resulted in a wider turning radius. The Model 05 also received a squarer appearance in 1969, though these design changes were gradual. Late Model 01 and early Model 05 coaches have the same appearance. Bus & Car produced the Model 05 for the US market until 1976, mainly using Detroit Diesel engines. In 1967 one prototype 2-axle 102 inch wide coach was built for Trailways, called the Model 03, while in 1969-1970 45 3-axle Model 07 coaches to the 102" width were delivered to various Trailways companies, though these were virtually indistinguishable from the Model 05.

In addition to the coaches for the US market, Bus & Car developed other models. The Eagle 04 was a 2-axle coach for the European market, small numbers of which were sold in, among others, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom around 1966-1970. In 1972, Bus & Car built twenty Eagle 09s for South African Railways. These had the external appearance of the 05, but were shorter. Other exports of Model 05 look-alikes were made to Australia (24 coaches) and various European countries. In 1974 forty Eagle Model 14 buses were built for the Belgian Vicinal Railways (NMVB-SNCV, series 4285-4324), using Mercedes engines and SNCV's standard body design. Another effort at building buses resulted in the delivery of fifteen Eagle 16s with Caterpillar engines to the Brussels public transport company, MIVB-STIB (series 8046-8060) . While the design of these buses followed the standard Brussels model they featured "silver skirts" and a rather special windscreen. By 1978, however, sales had dropped so much that the company got into financial trouble and was sold to Mol, a long-established Belgian builder of heavy machinery. Mol had built a small number of bus chassis and wanted to expand in this area. In total, Bus & Car built around 4,000 Eagles. 1,450 of these were Model 01 coaches.

Mol revised the Eagle range and added the production of chassis. At the 1979 Kortrijk, Belgium, bus show, Mol showed two different Eagle coaches. One basically looked like a Model 05 with the Model 01 axle arrangement, but had bonded windows, a feature never used on the US coaches. Another coach was called the "Transcontinental". It had the typical European low central exit door. Also shown were a prototype transit bus which was somewhat reminiscent of the Brussels Eagle 16, called the "City", and a coach chassis, named the "Touring". This one had Spanish Irizar bodywork. Also in 1979, Mol built three small chassis with Cummins engines, the Mol Eagle M28, for Belgian Vicinal Railways for use on their Brugge city services (series 5559-5561). These received Jonckheere "Trans City" bodywork. In 1981-1982 a series of 25 bus chassis, Mol Eagle M31, were built for the Vicinal Railways for use around Gent (series 5715-5739). These had Mercedes engines and received Jonckheere A120 standard bodywork. In total, Mol produced only fifty Eagles until 1987, when production ceased. Apparently the "City" transit bus was demonstrated in the United States, among others in Seattle, though it seems no orders materialized.

Rising labor costs in Belgium and a declining dollar resulted in the decision to shift production for the US market to the other side of the Atlantic. The Eagle Coach Corporation factory started deliveries from Brownsville, Texas in 1975. For one year, the Bus & Car and Eagle factories both produced coaches for the US market, but since 1976, all US Eagles were produced in Texas. The Model 05 was built until 1980, when it was superceded by the Model 10, of which 2,217 were built until 1987. In 1982 a second factory was opened in Harlingen, Texas, to produce a 2-axle Model 10 Suburban, which met with little success. In 1985 marketing began of the Model 15, a 102 inch wide bus or coach (all the others had been 96 inches wide). Finally, the Model 20 was introduced in 1987, which was basically a Model 10 with the external design of the Model 15 - i.e. a narrow Model 15 with a smaller engine. Externally it is difficult to distinguish the Model 15 and 20. Over the years, many smaller improvements were made and some companies ordered special versions of the standard models. For example, New Jersey Transit bought a special version of the Model 20, called AE-20, which had, among other features, large destination displays. In 1988, a 2-axle 35 foot version and a 3-axle 45 foot version of the Model 15 were introduced. In 1989, smooth sides became an option.The Eagle also became popular as a conversion shell for motorhomes. Over 3,000 Eagles were built in Texas, mostly for the US market, though there were some exports, for example to Australia, Mexico and Taiwan.

In 1987 Greyhound bought Trailways and Eagle, but went bankrupt in June 1990. Eagle production stopped in December, 1990, and Eagle filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991. In October, 1991 the factory was sold to a Mexican corporation as Eagle Bus Manufacturing, Inc. Production resumed in July, 1992, but output remained low, with a fairly large proportion of vehicles built as conversion shells. By the end of the decade the company got into trouble again and filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, 1998.The Eagle trademark and product line were purchased by Maplex, and activities were re-launched as Eagle Coach in August 1998 when some of the old facilities were leased from the town of Brownsville. Priority was given to the manufacturing of spare parts.

During its production of over four decades, some 8,000 Eagle coaches have been built in three different countries on two continents, and they have been the trademark of Continental Trailways for over three decades.


  • Buses Worldwide, Issue 100, May/June 1999
  • Setra Veteranen Club, Germany
  • Bus World (MAK Publishing) , March, 1998
  • Encyclopedia of Buses by Ed Stauss, 1987
  • Modern Intercity Coaches by Larry Plachno, 1997
  • Mol Eagle Bus by Walter Deckx



(1) Bus & Car SA, St. Mihiel, Belgium 1961-1974

(2) Eagle International Inc., Brownsville, Texas 1975 to date

(3) Mol, NV, Hooglede, Belgium 1976 to date

The largest component of the association of intercity bus companies known as the National Trailways Bus System has, since the late 1940's, been a group of opera­ting companies based in Dallas, originally known as Transcontinental Bus System and now Continental Trailways, Inc. In 1956, in an effort to compete with the 40-foot bilevel Scenicruiser bus built by GM for Greyhound, this company contracted with Karl Kassboh­rer, A.G. for a prototype "Golden Eagle;" delivered in 1956 and followed by 50 more in 1957 and 45 (including four articulated buses) in 1958. These had MAN diesel engines. Late in 1960 an additional 85 buses were ac­quired from Kassbohrer, incorporating numerous modifi­cations. These, as well as the 1958 batch, had more seats and fewer interior frills, and were designated Silver Eagles.

Transcontinental Bus System organized a subsidiary in 1961 to build its own buses, basically using the Kass­bohrer design but incorporating a Detroit Diesel 8V-71 engine. The plant was set up in Belgium under the name of Bus & Car, S.A., and it was later included in a group of overseas affiliates spun off to Transcontinental stock­holders in the form of a new corporation, Western Sales, Ltd. Bus & Car also built a small number of buses of other types for European tour operators, under the "Eagle" name. With minor modifications, approximately 3,500 Silver and Golden Eagles were built from 1961 to 1974, the majority for National Trailways Bus System opera­tors, but others sold as well to independent regular- route and charter carriers. A few have also been marketed in South Africa and Australia.

A second manufacturing plant at Brownsville, Texas, was set up in 1975 and now supplies the U.S. market. The St. Mihiel factory also built transit buses, the initial purchase comprising 140 for Israel, and the U.S. plant is also beginning to make an effort to sell these buses, which are now built by another Belgian plant.

With the steady decline in the value of the dollar against many other currencies, importing buses became an expensive undertaking for the Continental Trailways system, especially when its traffic levels declined, and late in 1976 the purchases were discontinued; approxi­mately 3,630 Eagles were imported in 16 years. Pro­duction of identical buses has been continued by Eagle International of Brownsville, Texas, lately at fewer than 100 vehicles per year. MBS


Model 1 Production History

  • 1956-1957 Golden Eagles, Model Setra-S, by Kassbohrer (Germany)
  • 1958-1959 Silver Eagles, Model Setra-S, by Kassbohrer (Germany)
  • 1960-1961 New Silver Eagle Model 01 by La Brugeoise of Belgium
  • 1962-1968 New Silver Eagle Model 01 by Bus & Car, N.V. of Belgium
  •      The first Eagles were built in Germany by Kassbohrer during 1956 and 1957 as ordered by Continental Trailways. Built with luxury features, these 51 buses were identified as Golden Eagles. The first Silver Eagles were built in 1958 and 1959 without the Golden Eagle amenities and were selected as the standard bus of the Trailways fleet.
         Eagles built during 1960 and 1961 by Kassbohrer were the first to be identified as Model 01 Eagles. After 1961 Kassbohrer declined to build additional Eagles because of other business and Trailways was forced to find another supplier.
         In 1962 Continental established its own factory in Belgium, with the help of a Belgium partner, La Brugeoise, giving it the name Bus & Car, N.V. The first Bus & Car Eagles were similar to the earlier models except for the introduction of a wraparound mesh grill which remained an Eagle spotting feature until 1969.
         Many U.S. parts were imported for assembly in Belgium, including Detroit Diesel engines and transmissions. Of the many running changes to the Model 01 during its lifetime, most were first seen in the 1964 models. Some were just appearance changes, but others were engineering, such as an air-operated parking brake and new air intakes for the engine. Most appearance features remained the same from 1965 through 1967 except that the silver siding and lightning bolt trim was raised to the window level.
         A large number of internal changes were made in 1968 to create the Model 05.

    Model 5 Production History

    1968 - 1976 by Bus & Car, NV, Belgium
    1974 - 1980 by Eagle International, Inc., Brownsville, Texas

         The first Model 05 Eagles appeared very similar to the Model 01, including the rounded end cap over the windshield, but the defining difference was the reversal in positions of the driving axle with the tag. The main rear axle was placed behind the tag to increase the space for underfloor luggage; this change had the disadvantage of slightly increasing the turn radius. Other visible external differences are a backup light that replaced the center taillamp in the vertical cluster on each side, an amber marker lamp added just above the fourth passenger window from the front, and the change from four baggage compartment doors to three.
         The 1969 Model 05 adopted the new-look appearance generally associated with the Model 05. The angular upper body part, flush marker lamps and squared bumpers remained as Eagle designators until the Model 10 was introduced in 1980. No visible changes were made to the 05 Eagles until 1974 when the lightening bolt was removed from the sides and replaced with silver siding of uniform height from front to rear.
         The last Golden Eagles, a short run of 12 buses, were produced in 1971 as enhanced versions of the Model 05.
         The large Silver Eagle insignia on the coach sides and the raised letters identifying the bus line were changed from raised assemblies to decals in 1975. The last Eagles for the American market were built by Bus & Car in 1976, the same year that Silver Eagle decals were deleted from Brownsville production and the buses were then identified as Eagles, dropping "Silver." The 1976 buses received square turn indicators in each of four positions.
         In 1977, the side-mounted turn signals were eliminated. The front signals were changed to round lenses in the following year.
         The Belgian plant continued to produce Eagles for two years after Brownsville deliveries began, building 20 Model 05s for South Africa, 24 for Australia, and others for Ireland and England, all right-hand drives. During this time, the Belgian plant was sold to MOL, N.V., a Belgian producer of trailers and heavy trucks. MOL retains the Eagle name and emblem for use in the European market.
         All but two of the 1969-1971 Golden Eagles were rebuilt into regular Model 05 Eagles at Brownsville and some Trailways shops during the late 1970s. Some were converted into combination freight/passenger buses, of which about 30 were operating on selected Trailways routes in 1983.
         Late in 1979, some of the Model 10 features began to appear on what were still designated the Model 05. One-piece windows replaced the more complicated windows with the small opening vents at the top which had been on all Eagles up to that time. Roof hatches were installed as emergency exits and the rear window emergency exit was eliminated.
         The last Model 05s, built in 1980, were externally identical to the Model 10 including Model 10 front and rear crowns but had none of the mechanical changes to be introduced on the Model 10.

    Model 10 Production History

    1980-1987 2,217 produced

         The most obvious spotting mark of the Model 10 is the sloping front end cap over the windshield, replacing the angular hatch of the Model 05. But this mark can be misleading because many older Model 05s have had the new cap retrofitted. The Model 10 also eliminated the rear windows found on the 05 with a smooth one-piece rear end cap.
         Exclusively on the Model 10 is the new Detroit Diesel 6V-92TA turbo-charged engine, providing better fuel economy and power, which could be identified by the large, single rectangular exhaust pipe and by the air scoop mounted just below the last passenger window on the right until the scoop was dropped from later models. Some customers of the Model 10 have chosen the earlier Detroit Diesel 8V-71 engine which can be spotted from the dual exhaust pipe.
         Another Model 10 feature is a spectacular instrumental panel with aerospace technology and styling.
         Eagles of 1981 and later are identified by the taller driver’s window and passenger entrance door, the tops of which match the top of the windshield.
         In 1982 Trailways opened a second plant to manufacture a new two-axle suburban Model 10 at Harlingen, Texas, creating Trailways Manufacturing, Inc. The original Brownsville, Texas plant remained under Eagle Intrernational. Trailways placed 19 suburbans in Atlantic City service. Although several other operators experimented with the suburbans, the fact that the axle loading exceeded the legal limit in most states inhibited the popularity of this model.
         Underfloor luggage space did not increase when the tag axle was dropped to create the suburban because the space was filled, in most units, with additional air conditioning equipment.
         In 1985, the Model 10 drive train was redesigned to eliminate the mitre box, allowing the engine to be set farther to the rear, improving accessibility for maintenance. The weight shift caused by this change made the two-axle version even less practical so the suburban was discontinued and the Harlingen plant was closed.
         Other special versions produced were the empty shell model for conversion to custom motor homes and right-hand drive models for operation in Australia and other countries.
         The Model 10 remained in production after the 102-inch wide Model 15 was introduced in 1985. Most sales switched to the wider Model 15 but some demand remained for the Model 10 to be used in East Coast tight spots such as New York’s Holland Tunnel. The last Model 10 was delivered in November, 1987 as future orders for a 96-inch Eagle were to be filled with the new Model 20.

    Model 15 Production History


         The first production 102-inch Eagle for general sales was introduced at the ABA meeting in Reno in October, 1985. Advertised as the Golden Eagle II, it has become known as the Model 15.
         The Model 15 is identified by its higher windshield and redesigned front cap with a one-piece skyview window. The side windows are larger than on the Model 10 and the first right-hand and left-hand windows from the front were made square for interchangeability. Rectangular headlights replaced the round headlights of the Model 10.
         In 1986 changes were made to the destination sign and the outside mirrors in response to operator requests.
         Because of the popularity of the Model 15 as a shell for custom motorhomes and entertainer dressing rooms, a new version with a taller roof was introduced in 1987, permitting a completely level floor from front to back.

    Model 20 Production History


         Although the 102-inch Model 15 accounted for most Eagle sales, some demand continued for narrower coaches so the Model 10 was restyled to look like the Model 15 and identified as the Model 20. The first Model 20 Eagles were built in December, 1987. Because of the narrower engine compartment, the Model 20 was offered only with the 6V engine.


        For more information please read:


    Modern Marvels: Buses - History Channel program

    Ed Strauss & Karen Strauss - The Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses

    G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

    Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

    Donald F. Wood - American Buses

    Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

    Susan Meikle Mandell - A Historical Survey of Transit Buses in the United States

    David Jacobs - American Buses, Greyhound, Trailways and Urban Transportation

    William A. Luke & Linda L. Metler - Highway Buses of the 20th Century: A Photo Gallery 

    William A. Luke & Brian Grams - Buses of Motorcoach Industries 1932-2000 Photo Archive

    William A. Luke - Greyhound Buses 1914-2000 Photo Archive

    William A. Luke - Prevost Buses 1924-2002 Photo Archive

    William A. Luke - Flxible Intercity Buses 1924-1970 Photo Archive

    William A. Luke - Buses of ACF Photo Archive (including ACF-Brill & CCF-Brill)

    William A. Luke - Trailways Buses 1936-2001 Photo Archive

    William A. Luke - Fageol & Twin Coach Buses 1922-1956 Photo Archive

    William A. Luke - Yellow Coach Buses 1923 Through 1943: Photo Archive

    William A. Luke - Trolley Buses: 1913 Through 2001 Photo Archive

    Harvey Eckart - Mack Buses: 1900 Through 1960 Photo Archive

    Brian Grams & Andrew Gold - GM Intercity Coaches 1944-1980 Photo Archive

    Robert R. Ebert  - Flxible: A History of the Bus and the Company

    John McKane - Flxible Transit Buses: 1953 Through 1995 Photo Archive

    Bill Vossler - Cars, Trucks and Buses Made by Tractor Companies

    Lyndon W Rowe - Municipal buses of the 1960s

    Edward S. Kaminsky - American Car & Foundry Company 1899-1999

    Dylan Frautschi - Greyhound in Postcards: Buses, Depots and Post Houses


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