Planning your own funeral is about more than choosing a playlist or even selecting your casket. For many people, it’s also about deciding which car you’ll use for your Final Ride. If at least part of your focus is on the car you’ll use to ride off into the sunset, then you’ll want to learn about Charles “Pat” Brewer.
Brewer, a Brooksville, Florida resident, has some of the most classic hearses and funeral cars you will ever find. One is a 1938 Packard Eight hearse. In addition, he has a 1937 Packard Super Eight limousine and a 1947 Lincoln Continental. He believes his 1937 limo once belonged to legendary boxer Jack Dempsey.
Brewer is also the founder of Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes. His son now runs the business which operates funeral homes in Brooksville, Spring Hill, Tampa, Clermont, South Tampa and Groveland. This gives Pat the opportunity to do what he loves – restore old vehicles.
The funeral home offers these old restored funeral cars to families who request them. They are requested at least one time a month. People seem to enjoy them with their two-tone gray and black paint jobs. As a result of the two tones, Brewer has not been able to rent his classic funeral cars out to Hollywood because producers are looking for hearses that are simply black as that is more historically accurate than the black with the gray.
In addition to transporting loved ones to their final resting place, Brewer also enjoys showing off his classic funeral cars at various shows. One time he took his gangster-like funeral cars to a show in New Port Richey. At the time, Al Gore was vice president and he was in attendance. Unfortunately, Brewer had a “Tommy” gun in the back of his car to give it an extra “gangster feel.” The Secret Service found out about it and confiscated the unloaded gun. Brewer got his gun back after Gore left the event later that day.
Brewer’s 1938 Packard has been with him since the mid-1980s. Before he purchased it, the Packard was used as an ambulance and later as a vehicle for a rock band’s equipment. However, the band blew the motor and the Packard ended up sitting in a garage for about 20 years.
Brewer recounts how he came across the classic hearse: “I finished playing golf one day at the (Brooksville) country club and was talking to a man from Cloverleaf who said his brother had one. I flew up to look at it. The man rebuilt the engine and then it took me two years to restore it.”
After restoring his 1938 Packard, Brewer discovered the 1937 Packard limo at an Orlando dealer. He traded his Model A roadster for it.
“It came out of Miami,” Brewer recounted about the limousine. “A land sales dealer used it for driving people back and forth. It had spring a leak in the roof and rotted out all the material.” Brewer believes Jack Dempsey, the legendary boxer, owned the limo but has no concrete evidence to prove it.
Brewer “souped up” the limo with a 500-cubic-inch Cadillac motor, two batteries and dual air conditioning. “We have to use these cars so they have to be reliable,” he explained. The front seat still has the original leather but the back has burgundy nylon velour because the roof leaked for years and damaged the original interior.
Of all his funeral cars, Brewer appreciates the 1947 Lincoln Continental the most. He has customized it with parts from various automakers to make it his own. Back in its day, it was used as a moonshine runner in West Virginia. He is currently in the process of working out some kinks in the ’47 Continental before putting it on the road for his business.
As the founder of a funeral home and a funeral car enthusiast, Pat Brewer understands the importance of the funeral process not only for those left behind, but for the dearly departed as well. While it’s true that you can’t take it with you, the fact is, you can plan the perfect send off knowing that a dedicated team of professionals will ensure your loved ones experience one more day that celebrates your life.