Inside the Eagle Auto Parts showrooms

The Eagle showrooms in Melbourne and Brisbane are meccas for car folks!

Photographers: Nathan Jacobs

FOUNDED in 1983, Eagle Auto Parts has long been a giant in the Australian aftermarket scene. The team has lent their expertise to countless Street Machine feature cars over the years, including Holden’s Project Monaro and our own ’63 Dodge Phoenix.

This article was first published in the September 2020 issue of Street Machine

The Eagle guys are most famous for their crate engines and go-fast gear. Stepping into their Dandenong headquarters will reinforce this impression; the showroom is studded with crate motors, superchargers, engine-assembly tools, specialised workshop gear and transmission displays. But the real eye-opener is in the warehouse.

As well as engines, Eagle has a massive range of gearboxes in stock – manual or auto, replacement or high-performance. This B&M Street & Strip T350 package comes with a 2000rpm converter, dipstick, cooler and fluid for $2950

Neatly stacked in seemingly endless rows of racking is a treasure trove of parts to suit almost any American car and truck you can think of, dating back to the early 1940s. New suspension and brake parts form a big slice of the offering, as well as hard-to-find restoration goodies such as mirrors, lenses, badges, door hinges and even trim pieces.

Eagle also carries a stack of obsolete parts for brands such as Holden, Mitsubishi, Saab and Hummer.

There are always a few choice rides in the Dandenong showroom to perv on, including this ’71 Mach 1 Mustang and ’70 ’Cuda

We chatted to Eagle’s Matt Telford (no relation!) to find out how it all works and how the company is faring in these strange times.

What I love about this place is that you can buy the latest LS9 crate motor, but you can also find a rebuilt 368 Cadillac engine sitting in a crate and ready to go!

We love finding cool old stuff and saving it before it’s gone forever. We’re always on the lookout – rare carbies or a consignment of vintage ball joints. Someone will want it in the future, and it helps keep the industry alive.

Sounds like a never-ending treasure hunt?

It is! There is a tonne of stuff on our eBay site, but that is just the tip of the iceberg; it is always worth a call if you’re after something rare. A big part of our job is problem-solving, especially with modified cars. If you have an American car that has been converted to RHD, you never know exactly how it has been done. But we work with the customer to find solutions for them. It’s fun!

In terms of crate motors, what is the breakdown in terms of the old-school stuff? I’d guess Chev would be way out in front in terms of popularity?

It’s about 50/50 between Chev and Ford; there are a lot of Fords being built at the moment. Chrysler is growing, but they are more expensive.

All the old-school engines on show here are fully dressed up – is that just for display?

Nope, we can take a short or long motor and add whatever you want in terms of heads, manifolds, distributor, balancer, dress-up gear and the like. Whatever you need to just plug it in and go.

This 383ci small-block with aluminium heads and roller cam looks like a good deal at $14,950, topped with a wild Borla down-draught EFI set-up. Grab an LS computer and harness and you’re good to go!

And what is the hotness in the late-model crate engines?

The LSA, hands down. They are just such good value for money in terms of power, reliability and easy hot-up potential. But it is important to remember that you’ll need an ECU, fuel system and an accessory drive for most of these LS-based engines.

What about Coyotes?

We have a couple coming in, but there isn’t big demand yet. It will come! We’ve actually got some of the supercharged 4.6-litre Mustang engines in stock as well.

What has the acceptance of bolt-on, throttlebody EFI set-ups been like in Australia?

They have really grown in the past two years. Holley has the Terminator and Sniper, MSD has the Atomic, and Edelbrock has the Pro-Flo systems. They are all easy to set up, and the technical support from the manufacturers is great. They improve driveability, fuel economy in many cases, and reduce fumes.

How about carbies? Holley has bought most of its competitors.

Yep, it’s pretty much Holley versus Edelbrock these days, and the split in enquiries is probably 50/50. The Edelbrocks have a bit of a learning curve if you are new to them, but some people love them. It comes down to personal preference and what will suit your car in terms of linkages and engine bay set-up.

Our favourite piece of man-cave gear in the shop is the Hoss Fly – a small-block Chev-powered bar stool!

What advice have you got for people setting out on their first build, or their first build in a long time?

Don’t rush it. It is easy to get excited and buy a lot of stuff that ultimately may not suit your car or deliver what you want. Also remember that the cheapest or the dearest part isn’t always the best; it can be a false economy in the long run. But that is why we are here, to help guide people to where they need to be. Say you are looking at a budget small-block Chev crate engine – whether you choose a Vortec or a traditional small-block will have impacts depending on what car it is going into.

One of our favourite pieces in the shop at the moment is the Edelbrock Pro-Flo 4 EFI set-up. Unlike more basic throttlebody EFI systems, the Pro-Flo 4 locates the injectors in the manifold. The kit is super-comprehensive: just add a fuel pump and fuel regulator. If you want EFI with the old-school carby look and are starting from scratch, this is great value

What are some common mistakes people make?

Simple things like going too big on the carby or the stall converter. Dropping a 750 Holley on a standard 350 isn’t going to be much fun. Too much bling is another common one; sometimes less is more, especially if you are trying to combine five or six different finishes in an engine bay.

What has the impact of COVID-19 been on Eagle?

We’re pretty busy; a lot of people are stuck at home and want to work on their cars. Getting supply from the US has been a challenge due to shutdowns in various states over there. Obviously we won’t be able to go to the big trade shows like SEMA and PRI this year, but there is a way around everything, and our aim is to keep our customers and staff safe until it is over.