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Vintage Hearses, Funeral Coaches and Flower Cars On Main Street Anywhere: A Pictorial

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Sorry, your landaus are wrong. Think about it. If they were real folding landaus the pivot point would be in the middle of the round "knob" and they would extend out past the back of the body if actually folded. Find a factory pic and prove me wrong and I will happily admit defeat!

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Not saying the landaus weren't installed that way at the factory. A review of vintage hearse pictures shows them both ways but functionally speaking, if they were real they would have to be installed with the bump in the center facing up. And, after all, aren't they meant to mimic a convertible top?

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A custom coach made to look like a modern Packard?

This is one of the last Bayliff-Packard vehicles and an online slide show is available and also an article with more details, all of which were sent to me by the former owner. Apparently two were built on special order and Bayliff, at the time, owned the Packard name.

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Your landau bars are mounted upside down. Theround "bump" in the center is always up. If the top were actually to fold with the landaus mounted as they are the folded irons would stick out behind the body. A commonly seen mistake on many antiques and one of my pet peeves.
Sorry, your landaus are wrong. Think about it. If they were real folding landaus the pivot point would be in the middle of the round "knob" and they would extend out past the back of the body if actually folded. Find a factory pic and prove me wrong and I will happily admit defeat!
Not saying the landaus weren't installed that way at the factory. A review of vintage hearse pictures shows them both ways but functionally speaking, if they were real they would have to be installed with the bump in the center facing up. And, after all, aren't they meant to mimic a convertible top?

Hearses are NOT convertibles. Regardless of the amount of life experiences Restorer32 has, none of them obviously have been first hand with hearses. A hearse's landau irons were never meant to mimic those on a convertible top - ever. Nor have there been working, folding landau irons on hearse - ever. These were dignified design cues meant to swoop from upper window frame gracefully downward. When the center section is not balanced symmetrically, the bulk goes BELOW center line without exception. Doing so not only appear more aesthetically balanced but more importantly does not break eye's sweeping downward gaze when viewing, as designers intended.

[There is ONE exception; which is not on a hearse (but related). When some formal Series 75 received short stubby non-working landau irons on C pillar, then yes, the bulk of center section points upward. Those are meant to mimic a convertible. Again, not a hearse.]

Do you think Meteor would have used this early (rare) prewer landau photographed in front of their own factory for period advertising with an upside down landau? Not a chance.

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Or were you asking for factory printed lit?

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Or would you prefer I continue with factory photos?

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If this hasn't been enough, you can try picking up any 1 of about 18 books on professional cars that have been published since 1973. Or you can continue assuming every landau iron ever put on by (minimum) 10 coach builders has been "incorrect".

Edited by R W Burgess (see edit history)

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If they weren't meant to mimic folding landau bars why do they have the off center circular knob which hides the joint on real folding landaus?

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I will admit to overstating my case. The majority of vintage hearse pics do show them mounted as you say but there are exceptions. You will not, however, convince me that these "dignified design clues" were not inspired by convertible top landaus. I agree the visual bulk goes down, no argument about that. My argument is with the circular bump in the center. If the original builders mounted them as you say then they are "right" of course. My point is that IF they were functioning folding irons and IF they were on a convertible they would be wrong.

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What do you have to say about the "bustle" usually found on the rear of flower cars. Were they not meant to suggest a folded convertible top?

Edited by R W Burgess (see edit history)

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What appears to be a Packard is actually a Russian version built from the old Packard dies called the ZIS 110.1276117226_zis110kc.jpg

Noooooooooooo!!! Not true. No Packard dies. Possibly a few trim pieces, plus parking and taillights, but that's all. No body panel on that car came from Packard, nor Cadillac (which, in my opinion, it looks more like than Packard other than the grille).

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That's correct West. I posted this when I still believed the old tales about them. I read the article in the May / June issue of Antique Automobile and I know better now. That was an excellent article.

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Actually the German word is Leichenwagen - all nouns in German are capitalized.

The German word for "hearse" is "leichenwagen'. A Google search with that word mostly yielded a lot of under styled Mercedes and this VW -- I won't

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Here is a photo from the early '70s of my first Henney-Packard, a rough 1941 end-loader with extension table, that I bought in the '60s when I was a teenager. It was just being delivered from Washington state where I lived when I bought it to San Jose where I live now. The drivers of the carrier joked, "watch him start it and drive it off" as they were struggling to unload it. I waited until they left before starting it and parking it! It was rough but ran well with new tires and brakes. This photo was taken in Milpitas, CA and I sold it only about a decade ago.

Also, a photo of my former 1960 Superior-Pontiac, which still had the Bonneville name on the dash. I had it for years and finally sold it to a neighborhood teenager, then lost touch with it after he moved away, though I heard reports of it from time to time from friends who saw it on the highway. The Pontiac coaches were always only end-loaders or combinations but this was the former in the landau style. If it were a Superior-Cadillac, it would have been in the Royal style but I'm not sure that Pontiac differentiated or used the same name. This photo was taken in an unincorporated area of Santa Clara County, CA where I lived for close to 30 years and had up to 22 cars.

Finally is my 1952 Henney-Packard Nu-3-Way when I first bought it, before I even installed whitewalls. It was an all-original car in excellent, shiny condition, straight from a car museum in Emeryville, CA. Sitting on the side-loading table is one of my grandmothers who was not expecting my visit but just happened to be wearing all black - AND a cape! I do have an odd family. The photo was taken in my hometown of Vallejo, CA. Although I've owned a number of '40s and '50s Henney-Packards, this was always my favorite and is now in Australia but the owner is not intending on keeping it stock. It weighs 6200 pounds so I hate to think how much it must have cost for shipping!

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Actually the German word is Leichenwagen - all nouns in German are capitalized.

Here's two German words for everyone, Leichenwagen anhänger, anhänger translating to mean trailer. For several decades, the German funeral industry had both motorized hearses and trailer hearses. I could give you a long story behind them, but the short version is that the trailer hearse allowed an undertaker to conduct a low cost service by towing the hearse behind whatever his ordinary car was. Attached is a vintage photo of such a rig, and then two photos of a 1954 model that I own here in the States and is currently under restoration by another AACA member's shop.

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Cool! I've never seen one. I found the word Leichenwagen to be interesting because, resurrecting my German from decades ago, Krankenwagen ("sick wagon/car") means ambulance but Totenwagen ("dead wagon/car") does not mean hearse.

Here's two German words for everyone, Leichenwagen anhänger, anhänger translating to mean trailer. For several decades, the German funeral industry had both motorized hearses and trailer hearses. I could give you a long story behind them, but the short version is that the trailer hearse allowed an undertaker to conduct a low cost service by towing the hearse behind whatever his ordinary car was. Attached is a vintage photo of such a rig, and then two photos of a 1954 model that I own here in the States and is currently under restoration by another AACA member's shop.

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I've never seen nor heard of a side loader.......leave it to Henney.......

Nearly every coachbuilder offered side loaders on their standard commercial chassis. Stretches like Superior-Pontiac and others did not because generally these were lower price coaches for less affluent funeral homes while side loaders were premium and very expensive vehicles. The mechanism itself was patented by coachbuilder Eureka, then licensed to others for their own coaches. On later coaches (late '50s and up), side-loaders stood out even from a distance because they needed to have suicide (reverse opening) rear side doors in order to allow room for the casket table to swing out. Before that, Henney-Packard at least had suicide rear doors whether side loader or not so it was difficult to tell. There is a slide show of Henney-Packard side loaders on my Packards / Imperials Page in the Photo Album section - see the link below.

Edited by Packard Don (see edit history)

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Here's a photo I copied from another thread on this forum. This Essex has functioning landau bars. One might presume that imitation ones would be mounted in a manner that would reflect these.

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There had been some discussion of the use of Landau bars on Hearses and why they existed. I have discovered the answer.post-59076-143142939043_thumb.jpg

My 73 Superior Ladder Hauler and favorite car for the dogs. Big windows and large flat carpeted rear area make it their fave.

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Edited by sambarn (see edit history)

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Flower cars are not generally convertibles although some of the less expensive ones might have been converted from convertibles. Most were on the same commercial chassis as the hearses and ambulances with rear side doors opening under the flower deck and were purpose-built as flower cars. They often had stainless boots at the rear that were similar to the cover on a lowered convertible top but they were generally only decorative or possibly contained a cover to protect the flower deck when not in use.

Edited by Packard Don (see edit history)

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