Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Van of the Week: Flyng Eagle (1 & 2)

This week I want to focus on a van that holds a special place in my heart. "Flying Eagle". The original Flying Eagle was built by a shop called Greg's of Akron, who put out several show winning vans in the late 70's. Flying Eagle was one, and then later two of them. (there was also a 'Mini Eagle' built form a Honda CVCC Civic, but I don't yet have a picture) The original was built in 1975, and used a brand new Ford Econoline as a platform. The idea was to keep it simple, yet produce a show winning van. I worked very well. They went with a nautical theme (as I have on my own van) and the result was subtle and stunning.
The trim was all removed from the body, and the body itself was smoothed before giving it a multi-hued paint job with a mural of a sailing ship on the side. The interior featured wood palnking throughout and a figurehead on the wall just aft of the driver seat.
A white fur rug covered the floor just in front off the bunk, which had a harpoon attached to the face of it. The rear doors were walled over from the inside, and a view out a window showing another sea mural too their place. Flying Eagle went on to win many awards at truck-in's though the late 70's.
If one is good, 2 must be better right? Flying Eagle 2 was later built, again by Greg's of Akron, and this time they got a little more complex. This time the interior wasn't quite as barren, but a lot of the same idea carried through, like wood interior, and the rear window with sea mural in the distance. Also the rear bumper was replaced by harpoons. Included this time were also stained glass panels set into the roof. During the 80's Flying Eagle 2 underwent a series of changes, the most dramatic being a major change to the exterior. The marine flavored mural was now replaced with one that was more sci-fi in origin, and the colors were a bit brighter. At some point in all this, I am sorry to say that Flying Eagle 1 met the crusher. Never to be seen again.

Then in 1999 tragedy struck Flying Eagle 2 in the form of an engine fire. The front end was pretty much destroyed as well as the drivers area, and dash.
The van changed hands a few times via Ebay, (for dirt cheap I gotta say!) until it ended up in the hands of Coop, who has restored it and then some! Flying Eagle 2 lives again thanks to a lot of hard work, love and determination.

I had the pleasure of seeing it personally at the 34th Van Nationals last summer in Harrisonburg. Va. It was one of my favorite vans out on the show field. The following are picures I took of it.

This shot (taken during the light show) shows the mast and crows nest between the front seats and the door passing through to the rear of the van. Also visible is one of three stained glass panels in the roof. (notice the etched windshield. Very cool!!)

A shot of Flying Eagle 2 on the field during the show and shine.

Shot of the rear interior wall taken during the light show. Unfortunately the picture doesn't show that the mural is lit only. The effect is quite stunning.

This is one of my favorite features of Flying Eagle 2. The stained glass roof panels! In my opinion these make the van!

Another shot of the mast and crows nest that sit between the front seats.

Here's a shot of the rear end showing the single half door that was made for this van. Note the chrome hinges. Super cool!

Here's a parting shot of one of my favorite vans ever! Flying Eagle 2.

By the way, I recently got a package in the mail form the guy who bought this van on Ebay when it was a charred ruin. He sent me one of the coolest things I think I will ever own. It is a key chain made form the melted wreck of Flying Eagle 2's air cleaner. Thank you "Uncle Blaino"


liljack said...

FLying Eagle is a sweet, sweet ride. Has been and now will be for a long time to come.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, Greg passed away on Thursday. He will be missed & may his legend live on. Brad

Greg(o) Jr. said...

While the restoration of the Flying Eagle II is admirable and the artwork is beautiful I do not understand how you can still call it the Flying Eagle II. It resembles nothing of it's former self. I rode to many Truckins with my father traveling cross country and sleeping, as a young boy, on the very bunk you see..... that is not the van that won shows across the country day in and day out.

Please take no offense as I mean no harm and I truly appreciate the kind words for my father... but that is not the Flying Eagle II that I grew up in and it should not be portrayed as such.


Greg "COOP" Cooper said...

I have to say that this being the origional van how can it not be the flying eagle.. the interior has been restored to its origional beauty. sitting inside is exactly the same as it was in 1976. the paint is not the first paint job but the current paint was applied by greg himself and is the 3rd pain job on this van, all were done by greg.. how could it not be his.. whatever fond memories you have are still there. it even smells the same as it did 30 years ago.

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