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Veterans Come Together to Recreate The Lincoln Hearse

When it comes to iconic hearses, the coach that carried Abraham Lincoln on his final ride is a fan favorite.  Not only was it an important historical funeral vehicle, it was also something of an enigma.  While other famous funeral cars often become part of a collection or get acquired by museums, Lincoln’s carriage was destroyed by a fire in 1887.  As a result, only a handful of photographs remain, making it a funeral vehicle lost to history.

That was the case until a group of veterans decided to come together and recreate the hearse for the 150th anniversary commemorative ceremonies to honor President Lincoln back in 2015.

The Blue Ox Veterans Program was originally founded by Eric Hollenbeck, a master craftsman who was grappling with PTSD.  As a way to work through his own issues and offer a helping hand to fellow veterans, Eric founded the Veterans group and tasked them with the auspicious project if recreating Lincoln’s funeral carriage.  The group worked from photographs to create the hearse, focusing on the details and doing their best to create a fully functional and exact replica of the infamous hearse.

Veterans involved with the program brought in family to help with the build as well, making it a project that gave back to the community in more ways than one.  Not only was the funeral carriage complete in time for the honorary festivities being held in Springfield, the hearse remained with the Staab Family Livery and is available for the public to see in the Lincoln Library and Museum each summer.  The project also brought together vets from across different generations, conflicts and backgrounds in order to give them a way to work together and channel their energy while connecting with fellow vets.

You can check out the full story of the Lincoln Hearse rebuild as well as more information on the vets program and the Blue Ox community at their official website.

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The Great Eco-Hearse Experiment – How a Nissan Leaf Conversion Made Headlines

Eco-friendly, electric and hybrid cars have officially gone mainstream thanks to the technological advancements and marketing savvy of companies like Tesla.  A green approach to transportation is now pretty well represented in both passenger cars and public transportation vehicles.  But this green trend hasn’t made much of a change in the world of hearses and funeral cars.

The Converted Nissan Leaf

One UK funeral home, however, has launched an interesting campaign to change that.  Leverton & Sons operates out of North London, placing them at the epicenter of traffic and congestion.  The funeral home also has a reputation for advancing sustainable and environmentally friendly burial options so the idea of an eco-friendly hearse is a natural match.

Leverton & Sons teamed up with Brahms Electric Vehicles to create a fleet of funeral cars and hearses from Nissan ‘Leaf’ models.  The concept was a success and won the company the Best Green Funeral Director Title in 2013 and again in 2017.  They were also shortlisted for the Camden Business Awards ‘Carbon Reduction and Energy Efficiency’ category.

Critical success aside, the enduring popularity of the option has proven there is a market for environmentally friendly options when it comes to funeral transportation.  With the growing popularity of low and zero-emission vehicles, the market for eco-friendly options is clearly thriving.

While this project was an aftermarket modification it sends a clear message to auto makers and funeral car developers:  People want green options even after they’re gone.


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Hell’s 17th Annual Hearse Fest

This year marks the 17th annual Hearse Fest in Hell, Michigan.  The annual event has become a popular gathering place for fans of funeral cars, custom and vintage hearses as well as those who simply enjoy funeral culture.

The event is slated to take place Saturday, September 15th and is organized by Just Hearse N Around, the local group of hearse enthusiasts.

This year, they have been going the extra mile when it comes to promotion since there will be a film crew on hand.  Film director Steve Shippy has arranged to bring an entire film crew to film a full-length documentary.  The crew will be focused on cars and interviewing owners as well as the culture surrounding hearses.

Vendors are also turning out in droves and are sure to appeal to everyone from serious professional collectors to casual fans and first time visitors.  A partial list of vendors already confirmed include:

  • Deadly Grounds Coffee
  • Crooked Seams by lindsay J
  • Nicole’s Disturbed on Canvas
  • Zachariah Messiah’s Morbid Curiosities
  • Grave Digger Candles
  • Dead Sled Morgue LLC
  • Hardcore Hearse Club
  • Voodoo Doll’s Accessories

You can check out the latest news and developments as well as posts from fans over at the Hell’s Hearse Fest Facebook page.


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Collecting Hearses: Child’s Play

Funeral car fans may pine for a classic hearse or even plan their own customized dream funeral car but you don’t have to break the bank to start an amazing collection.  Models and sets have made it easier than ever for all funeral car fans to begin developing their collections no matter what their budget.

Matchbox City Action ’63 Cadillac Hearse 1:64 Die Cast Car Model  ($35.95, Amazon)

Most, if not all, of us remember Matchbox cars as being synonymous with race cars.  But the toy car company knows that the kids who cut their teeth on race cars grow up to be gearheads with a soft spot for these nostalgic collectibles.  This 1:64 scale die cast model is bound to please any funeral car fan with childhood memories of Matchbox cars.  Reading through the comments, we found a special tidbit on this model.  One reviewer reports that the car is “the one with the hand coming out of the coffin in back”.  In order to see it if you decide to invest (and open the package) you’ll need to “look from the passenger side back, and everything is gray, but the coffin is open and a hand is out laying on the open lid”.

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1921 Ford Model T Hearse with Ornate Carved Detail ($190.95, Rakuten)

This 1:18 detailed model is made by GreenLight toys as part of their Precision Collection.  It comes complete with detailed replica coffin, rotating wheels and opening driver passenger and rear doors.

 

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-Machines Rat King in Hearse Diecast Vehicle ($15, Gift Universal)

Hearse fans who grew up in the 80s and 90s are bound to fall in love with this throwback hearse model.  The officially licensed TMNT model allows fans to take on Shredder and the Foot Clan with this “powerful line of T-Machines to save the streets of New York. Grab your Shell and Roll!”

 

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Riding With The Munsters ($99.99, The Hamilton Collection)

What toy hearse collection would be complete without one of the most identifiable hearses of all time?  This 1:18-Scale Hearse Sculpture features amazing detail.

  • Fully-sculpted 1930s-style hearse in oversized 1:18 collector scale
  • Gleaming chrome-look trim
  • Iconic skull hood ornament
  • Hand-numbered with a matching Certificate of Authenticity
  • Side images of the entire Munster clan – including Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddy and Marilyn
  • A three-dimensional Herman Munster “bursting” out through the roof

 

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Nightmare Before Christmas Hearse ($99.99, The Hamilton Collection)

Speaking of eye catching hearses, consider this homage to Tim Burton’s holiday crossover classic A Nightmare Before Christmas.  Inspired by the design of their Munster hearse, this officially licensed product features plenty of amazing details including the Pumpkin King himself, Jack Skellington, sitting stop the 1930s style hearse.

 

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LEGO Vampyre Hearse ($72.50, Amazon)

This now-retired Lego set is in high demand but can still be found on sites like Amazon, eBay and other resale venues.  Set features invclude:

  • Includes the Vampyre’s Hearse and Dr. Rodney Rathbone’s motorcycle
  • Moonstone accessory and 4 weapons
  • Coffin with catapult function
  • Dodge the Vampyre’s catapult attack
  • Measures over 4″ high, 3″ wide and 7″ long when complete

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Five Hearses Everyone Knows and Loves

There are plenty of examples of widely recognized cars but, when asked, many people may not immediately think of hearses as being a car everyone can recognize easily.  but there are a handful of hearses that have become pop culture icons – as recognizable as The Bandit’s Trans Am.

1.  Claire Fisher’s Green Funeral Coach (1971 S&S Victoria, Six Feet Under)

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HBO’s award winning series, Six Feet Under, followed the lives of a funeral home family.  The show ran for five seasons and Claire was the youngest member of the family.  Claire used the lime green hearse as her daily ride throughout the show and it was routinely featured in promos and fan art for the show.

2.  Harold’s Morbid Ride (1967 Jaguar XK-E Hearse 4.2 Series, Harold & Maude)

Harold

The 1971 cult classic Harold and Maude features two noteworthy hearses:  a 1959 Cadillac Superior 3-way and a custom model he makes from a 1967 Jaguar XK-E Hearse 4.2 Series.  The custom hearse has become a more recognizable hearse, though some car fans are quick to point out calling it a hearse is a bit of a stretch (pun intended).

3.  John F. Kennedy’s Final Ride (1964 Cadillac Miller-Meteor)

JFK

Pretty much anything and everything John  F. Kennedy touched quickly became worth its weight in gold after his tragic death.  This was true of the car that carried him to his final resting place as well.  The  “cotillion white” 1964 Cadillac Miller-Meteor became an instant must have item for collectors of JFK memorabilia as well as hearse and funeral collectors.  The car was sold at auction for $176,000 in 2012 to Stephen Tebo of Boulder, Colorado who reportedly added it to his private collection of more than 400 noteworthy vehicles.

4.  Munster Koach (Custom Made, The Munsters)

Munsterkoach

The Munsters may not have transcended generations the same way the Addam’s Family did, but there’s no denying the campy monster family remains a cult favorite.  The Munsters’ family car couldn’t have been anything but a hearse, but theirs simply couldn’t be a run of the mill hearse.  Instead, producers had the Munster Koach custom made and used three Ford Model T bodies, making it 18 feet long. The car featured blood red interior and black pearl paint and it took artists 500 hours to hand-form the ornate rolled steel scroll work.

5.  The Ecto-1 (1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor, Ghostbusters)

Ecto1

Okay, okay .. let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat. While it’s generally accepted as a hearse for the sake of arguments (and lists like this), it’s important to point out the car is, technically, an ambulance / hearse combination. Still, it’s probably the most recognizable “personal health car” in the country.  The car has a long and interesting history and remains a fan favorite.  In the highly debated reboot, the car was revamped as a Fleetwood hearse, making it officially a hearse in the Ghostbusters universe.

Fun Fact:  The original Ecto-1 was notorious for having car problems.  Scenes from Ghostbusters II where the car breaks down, backfires and starts billowing smoke on the Brooklyn Bridge were not the result of special effects.  The car was, in fact, on its deathbed.  The resulting traffic jam resulted in heavy fines for production and having the car converted for the rest of the film.


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How the Rich Splurge on Funerals and Funeral Cars

A documentary airing in the UK has shed some light on how the uber rich shuffle off the mortal coil in style.  The show follows a funeral home that has catered to several flashy funerals.  The funeral home of AW Lymn in Nottingham has plenty of experience when it comes to these funerals – and the sometimes surprising demands of the rich when their time comes.

One funeral being prepared for a traveling family kicked off with a fleet of Rolls Royces and a double decker Routemaster bus.  When the flashy convoy arrived at the funeral, they had arranged for farmyard animals grazing outside and a red carpet leading to the funeral venue.  Matthew, a company director of AW Lymn, noted that traveling families in the area are often the ones most likely to ask for outlandish displays.  The community is known for its tight-knit relationships and when someone dies, they often have everyone chip in to cover the expense.

But they aren’t the only ones with requests that raise eyebrows:

  • A grieving mother of three asked for a glass coffin for her child.  She wanted a fairy tale themed funeral and the glass coffin was a nod to Snow White.
  • AW Lymn offers a Promethean casket that costs £19,999 (nearly $27,000) which is in demand as it was the one chosen by Michael Jackson as well as some other celebrities.
  • Even burial can be costly if you want a posh neighborhood.  In one popular North London cemetary, a spot runs £32,000 ($42,000) for a spot which doesn’t include the stone, which runs an additional £15-20,000 ($20 – 26,000)

Of course, funeral cars are one of the most obvious ways a person can show their status.  From horse drawn carriages to entire fleets of luxury automobiles, the rich definitely want to make their final ride one to remember.

Currently, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Hearse B12 holds the title as the most expensive hearse.  The amazing vehicle is 23 feet long and is powered by a Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre V12 engine.  It boasts high luminescence LEDs to illuminate the casket so that the dearly departed shines in the spotlight one last time.  When asked about the motivation behind the car, company spokesman Dario Andreotto explained the company wanted something “extraordinary, something that didn’t pass unnoticed and could not be matched by anyone else.”

They certainly hit the mark.  Of course, a final ride in the Phantom Hearse comes at a pretty big cost.  The car costs around €500,000 ($640,000), making it one of the most expensive cars in the world.

Clearly, the rich are used to finer things in life and expect only the best for their final goodbye.  What do you think?  Is splashing out for a big funeral just another way to celebrate a life well lived or is it a huge waste?


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5 Reasons Your Next Car Should Be a Hearse

Looking to buy a new car and want something that’s unique, versatile, functional and a great deal?  Consider buying a hearse.  Before you shrug the idea off as something only for goths or hipsters, take a moment to consider these five solid reasons why a hearse could be a great investment.

  • One Owner and Plenty of Service Records – Funeral directors tend to buy their hearses new and they also keep up with general and preventative maintenance.  Since funeral homes rely so heavily on hearses, they keep them in tip-top shape and have the service records to prove it.
  • Truly a ‘Gently Used’ Vehicle – You’ve probably noticed that most funeral processions go slow enough to drive Miss Daisy.  Hearses are rarely – if ever – subjected to breakneck speeds or careless driving.  Hearses are such public cars and their drivers are under near constant scrutiny.  They’re also kept meticulously clean with details done inside and out as well as winterizing on a regular schedule.
  • Delivers a Comfortable Ride – Even for the Living – Hearses are often little more than modified sedans and, as such, they’re incredibly comfortable to drive.  Leg room aplenty and often with high-end appointments such as heated seats, Bluetooth capability and built in GPS, hearses are designed for comfort.
  • Plenty of Cargo Space – Want to refurnish your house from Ikea?  Hitting up every local garage sale you can find in the height of summer?  Picking up some 6 foot lumber for a yard project?  Need space for camping, festival, concert or tailgating gear?  A hearse has you covered.   You can fit plenty in the back without worrying it will affect the comfort of the ride in the front.
  • Performance Won’t Be An Issue – While hearses are generally driven carefully, that doesn’t mean they lack in performance.  Since they’re usually hauling some heavy cargo as well as dealing with the equipment installed in the back (more on that below), hearses tend to come with plenty of punch below the hood.

A Note of Caution

To be fair, while there are plenty of reasons to buy a hearse, it’s something you should consider carefully.  Buying a hearse may mean some initial investment in getting the car ready for mainstream use.  Many hearses, for example, have a ‘coffin deck’ in the back which makes loading and unloading a coffin easier.  This hardware will need to be removed and, quite often, the back will need to be carpeted or otherwise refurnished.

Driving a hearse is also something that takes some getting used to.  The cars a re longer than most conventional vehicles and people often find they have a hard time parking or even negotiating tight turns around drive-thrus and other areas.

Still, even with the challenges presented by hearse driving, the cars are a classic and they’re always guaranteed to turn heads.  if you want something functional and fabulous, a used funeral car is definitely worth considering.


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Warden Slaps Ticket on Hearse While Driver Leaves to Collect Deceased

Hearses and funeral cars often get special treatment when it comes to parking and traffic in general.  Funeral processions go through red lights and get the right of way at any intersection.  But one funeral professional recently learned that soft glove treatment isn’t always the default.

Recently, the London Metro reported an incident where an undertaker was ticketed while collecting the body of someone who had recently died.   A local bystander, George Portsmouth, was sitting near a window while visiting North Cumbria University Hospital in Carlisle, Cumbria, UK when he noticed a strange development unfolding outside.

He watched as a funeral car pulled up and the drivers walked inside to collect the body of a recently departed person.  As soon as the drivers went inside, George saw a parking warden come up and ticket the vehicle which was parked immediately outside the doors.  Granted, the car was in fact parked illegally.  To be fair, though, when transporting a body, it’s usually best that you don’t have to roll the gurney through the parking lot.

Check out the full story – including pictures of the warden slapping on the ticket and then running away – over at the Metro site.  What do you think?  Should funeral cars be forced to adhere to the same parking rules as everyone else?  Or does the work of collecting the dead override parking lot regulations?

 


Getting Your Funeral Car Ready for Summer

There are often plenty of articles and information about winterizing cars, but what about steps that need to be taken ahead the onslaught of summer?

Hearses and funeral cars for family need to be kept in tip-top shape all year round and that means preparing for long, hot, sunny summer days.  Here are some quick tips on how you can get your fleet ready to weather whatever summer throws your way.

Test Your Air-Conditioning – Run the A/C for a few minutes in each of your hearses and funeral cars.  Be sure the cold air is strong and that there are no weird or foul odors.

Swap Tires if Needed – In some parts of the country, swapping out winter tires for summer versions can help improve performance and gas consumption.

Check Those Brakes – Winter traffic patterns often mean that brakes see extra wear and tear over the colder months.  Do a full inspection of your brakes to ensure you don’t need to have anything replaced.

Top Up Wiper Fluid – Make sure you have plenty of wiper fluid in your car to handle bugs and other windshield pests.  Since the weather will be warmer, you can also dillute your wiper fluid to help your budget.  Be sure to check the specs on whatever fluid you use so that you don’t dillute too much.

Check Under the Hood – While you’re topping up your wiper fluid, do a visual check on your other fluids as well as belts.  Check for belts that look dry or cracked and get them replaced BEFORE they snap.

Double Check That Coolant – Summer means heat and heat means your coolant levels should be spot on.  A coolant tester (available through any auto shop) will let you know if the water to ethylene glycol ratio needs adjusted.

Wash and Wax – Give your fleet a good wash and follow up with a wax treatment to remove any salt that may have built up over the winter.

Taking the time to go through these simple steps will ensure your entire fleet remains reliable through the summer.  Getting ahead of potential problems also keeps your overall costs low and gives you peace of mind.  Pretty much a win-win for funeral home owners as well as the people you work to support.

 


SHOP SMART: Get a Pre-Purchase Vehicle Inspection Before You Buy Online

If you are considering the purchase of a used funeral limousine or hearse that you found online and that is not nearby, how do you go about making sure the vehicle is up to snuff and in the condition advertised? Why, with a pre-purchase vehicle inspection of course.

eBay Motors and InspectMyRide.com have teamed up to provide a service that allows potential funeral car buyers on ebaymotors.com to order a pre-purchase vehicle inspection and have the car inspected before they purchase it, but you don’t have to be shopping for used funeral cars on eBay to benefit from this independent inspection service.

There are many different inspection services now that offer on the spot inspections for cars and trucks.  They also offer services for specialty cars, including hearses and other funeral sedans.

Wondering what these inspection services actually offer?  Here’s a short list of what most offer as a part of their basic service:

  • Mechanical dysfunctions such as brakes, weak battery, shoddy belts and hoses, and fluid leaks
  • Condition of instrument panel
  • Rips and tears in upholstery or carpeting
  • Functionality of electronic components
  • Tire tread
  • Body damage or paint chipping
  • And that’s just the tip of the iceberg

Your vehicle inspector will also take your prospective funeral hearse or limousine for a test drive and provide you with digital photos to show you the condition of the vehicle you are planning to purchase.

Whether or not you are shopping online or from a trusted source for your next used funeral hearse or limousine, a pre-purchase vehicle inspection from an independent third-party is a sure way to reduce the chances of buying something you regret.