Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970s Indy Eagles
Dan Gurney remains one of the biggest names in open-wheel racing. His Eagle race cars dominated the Indianapolis 500 and Indycar circuit in the late 1960s through much of the 1970s, but really set the establishment on its ear starting in 1972.
That’s when Bobby Unser debuted the new Eagle with its giant rear spoiler and upped the speed ante to nearly 200 mph by putting his Olsonite Eagle on the pole at 195.8 mph, 3 mph faster than Peter Revson’s McLaren.
Replicarz, which previously released the 1973 STP Team’s Eagles of winner Gordon Johncock and teammate Swede Savage in 1/18 scale, now delivers three new Eagles in 1/43 scale. Back is the Johncock car, with just 200 being made, along with limited runs of 300 for both Unser’s white 1972 pole car and 1975 Indy winner, the blue Jorgensen Eagle..
Bobby Unser won Indy in 1968 in a Gurney Eagle, while Gurney himself was second. Gurney would place second and third the next two years, then retire. Yet his Eagles, made by All-American Racers in Santa Ana, Calif., soared. They won 51 Indycar races.
The Olsonite Eagle that Bobby Unser put on the pole in 1972 was the tipping point toward Eagles being the top Indycar of the time. That year it led the first 30 laps of the race before an ignition rotor failed sidelining Unser. He finished 30th. But by the next May, 21 of Indy’s 33 starters drove Eagles, including the winner, Johncock.
A McLaren, the other major player at the time, won the following year when 19 Eagles made the field, but Unser was back in the winner’s circle in 1975 with his blue No. 48. Eagles made up roughly half the Indy field.
For the record, 53 drivers not with Gurney’s All-American Racers team, qualified Eagles for Indy over the years. The AAR team of drivers was a who’s who of world-class talent too, including F1 champs Jochen Rindt and Dennis Hulme, among others.
Beautiful in every way, the three 1/43 racers are detailed in design and paint schemes, plus loaded with all the proper race day sponsor logos. But while the Eagles span just four racing years, they are not identical in design.
For instance, the 1972 and ’73 cars have dual fuel filler openings in the left side pod, while the ’75 winner has just one. Changes were made after Savage died as a result of a fiery crash in the 1973 race.
Noses of the 1972 and 1975 cars are similar, but the front wings on the ’73 model include larger side plates and silver supports to fasten the winglets to the racer’s main body. The massive rear wings on the 1972 and 1973 racers is downsized considerably for 1975 as Indycar officials tried to slow the rapid increases in speeds at Indianapolis.
Likewise, the 1975 model’s roll bar is thinner without the massively long support bar that ran to the rear transaxle area in the earlier models. The 1975 Eagle also sports a small radio antenna just in front of the cockpit.
What is the same is the beautifully detailed Offy engines at the rear of each Eagle. There are well defined headers, electrical wiring, big turbos and black exhaust pipes. The rear suspension looks great too with shocks (yellow on both Unser cars), all the supports in chrome, transmission and oil coolers.
Each car also has chromed wheels, Goodyear branded slicks, chrome front suspension and steering arms, dual mirrors (with tiny mirrors) alongside the thin wraparound windshields. Cockpits include molded in seatbelts, steering wheel, detailed dash and small gear shift levers on the driver’s right.
Paint jobs and decaling is flawless, and trust me, it’s not easy to get the day-glo red STP paint scheme right.
More good news for Indy fans, Replicarz plans more Eagles by late summer. Replicarz’s Brian Fothergill says we may expect to see the Savage car, and Eagles driven by Mark Donahue and David Hobbs … maybe more!
Stock No.: R43021 (’73 winner), R43022 (’75 winner), R43020 (’72 pole car)*
*Sold out already
MSRP: $89.99 (each)