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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.