Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1971 Golden Eagle 05

On June 12, 1956, Continental took delivery of the prototype Golden Eagle. It was soon put into 5-STAR Service between Dallas and Houston where ridership immediately increased to a 70% load factor. The original Golden Eagle was built in Germany by Kassbohreer and was powered with a M.A.N. D-8 Model D1548MTH Diesel Engine turbo-charged and after-cooled. The gear box on the prototype was a 6-speed, ZF Media 6M-75. The production models that followed had a 5-speed gear box of the same preselector type. The production buses were built in 1967 and were 40′ in length and of a hi-level design. A total of 51 Golden Eagles (name derived from the gold-colored aluminum siding and eagle insignia) were built in the 40′ length.

A new Bus and Car Plant in Belgium was the manufacturing arm of Continental and started turning out Silver Eagles late 1961 and in 1963 when 31 Golden Eagle were built, with 13 more in 1964. These were known as Model 01 powered by a Detroit Diesel 8V71 and used a Spicer 4-speed transmission. There were no more Golden Eagles until 1969, when 50 Model 06’s were built. The last group of 11 was built in 1971 without the Golden Aluminum. They used the Silver Aluminum and painted it gold. Overall, there were about 150 Golden Eagles built from 1956 to 1971. 5-STAR Service was terminated several years later. The Interstate Commerce Commission and Regulatory Agencies had kept the fare surcharge so low in most cases that Continental could not recover the extra cost of 5-STAR Service even when the buses were full.

The bus on display was purchased new by CONTINENTAL PANHANDLE LINES, INC., in 1971 and was used as an extra in the Trailways pool and in charter service out of the Amarille, TX, area. This was the LAST Golden Eagle in revenue service and operated until 2001, when it was donated to the Museum of Bus Transportation by the late Richard Allison. This bus continues to be one of the most popular buses in our exhibit.

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