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


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This Nomad is used as an ambulance not a hearse. Either way it seems like a sin.

Hearse11pic.jpg

Sorry Hudsy, I quoted the wrong original post - should have used Dave's. With Bleach starting this thread, I think he should change his signature from "There's nothing like that old car smell" to "There's nothing like that old hearse smell." I can get away with saying it as a retired licensed funeral director who has driven many, many different hearses (and ambulances back in the day before fire departments took over with EMS/EMT). Local funeral homes provided ambulance service in most of the U.S. up until the late 1960's and early 1970's. I started working for a funeral home driving emergency ambulances in 1963 as a freshman in college. I worked for two different funeral homes in Dallas back in the mid-60's, one of which was Oneal Funeral Home which had the emergency ambulance contract with the city of Dallas and handled JFK, Oswald and Ruby. I drove the 1964 Cadillac hearse on a daily basis which had been used to transport JFK's body from Parkland to Love Field in November 1963 (it sold last year at the Barrett Jackson Auction in Scottsdale); in my personal scrapbook I have the original ambulance receipt from Oneal Funeral Home dated December 9, 1966 showing we picked up Jack Ruby at the Dallas County Jail and carried him to Parkland where he was admitted and died the following month from a pulmonary embolism, secondary to bronchogenic carcinoma (lung cancer).

For those of you who would like to see lots of early hearse photos, go to the Professional Car Society where members collect ambulances, hearses and flower cars. Here's their website dealing with "Classy Cadillacs" - there are 70 pages of photos and intricate details about Cadillac hearses: Classy Cadillacs - Professional Car Society - Official Website of the Professional Car Society, Inc.

Edited by Texas Old Car Guy (see edit history)
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I wasn't sure Matt's pictured hearse was a Model T as a few things like the grille didn't look right. Here's one with the standard T grille

1924-ford-42445.jpg

You know, I'm still a little puzzled over this one. I think I read once that the draping and bunting on hearses of this style was cast iron sheathing that was applied to some supporting structure. I'm not referring to the elaborate Latin American jobs we've seen here, they're clearly wood. A while back I helped a fellow identify some aluminum doors that turned out to be for a ca '22 - '25 Model T four door sedan. A search indicated that they were aluminum from the factory because Ford was concerned that the additional weight of four steel doors would tax the little 20 HP motor. I can't help but think that this cute, charming little Model T hearse would have only been suited for use in flatland country. It sure would have been a sight if, with a driver and a casket inside, it had to negotiate a hill going backwards. Just out of curiosity, can one of you say what year it is?

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More from Google...

An Imperial flower car. I wish that there were more pictures of this one available. I love the lines on these Imperials - there simple, sculpted and elegant. I could see myself behind the wheel of this one:

1973FlowerCar.jpg

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My brother used to have a '37 Ford hearse, so here are some Fords from the web:

Van_Leersum_Ford_Hearse_1942.jpgDeputy-Director-Don-Moser-prepares-Seagle-Ambulance-Hearse-for-display.jpg

oo1932FordAutoCoach00.jpgoo1938-Sie-sc-400.jpgoo1935-Sie-cc-400.jpg

A number of these pics were from Coach Built .com - always a fascinating site:

Coachbuilders, Coach Building, Coachbuilt Cars, Coachbuilding History, Encyclopedia, American Coach Builders & Coachwork, Carriages

Edited by Hudsy Wudsy (see edit history)
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I used to drive my friends '48 Packard Henney hearse frequently. He would drive it out to Lake Street, in south Minneapolis, and then stop a quarter of a mile away from Porky's Drive In and have me drive it the rest of the way. He simply couldn't stand all of the scrutiny of being watched by everyone while backing the Henney into a parking space. Pulling into a space front first was out of the question. If he would have pulled the car in front first like a tourist, he would have been laughed at and derided to point where we would have to leave. You simply had to back in in one smooth motion. Course adjustments along the way always brought choruses of tsk-tsk. Such was the culture of hanging out at Porky's. Here's a '48 Henney:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3497/3272722225_1ae6605a0e.jpg (I messed something up, so you have to click on the link instead.)

I relate all of that to you so that you'll believe me when I tell you that hearses can be frightening to drive. Anything that's that top heavy can be a real handful. Take a look at this '59 Cadillac hearse thinking about rolling over while negotiating a curve -- while still in the cemetery!:

HaroldMaude_044Pyxurz.jpg

How fast do you think it's going, six, maybe eight MPH? Can you imagine how very little it would take to roll a rig like this?

Edited by Hudsy Wudsy (see edit history)
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I find hearses interesting, not because of any preoccupation with death, but because they are studies in the art of coach building. So, in a related, and somewhat lighter vein, I thought I'd show a few custom built station wagons.

56-Lincoln_Custom_Pioneer_DV-07-CC_00.jpg

364611-1000-0.jpg?rev=2

SIA-56CadillacWagon_lede.jpg

3934763470_2c487096ea.jpg2411464845_cf3444947b.jpgcadillac-eldorado_station_wagon6.jpg3101094506_fa26f62a51.jpgCADILLAC-STATION-WAGON-1960-cadillac-11136749-1024-651.jpg

1976_Cadillac_Castilian_back.jpg

Cad+77+wagon+ad.jpg55_Cadillac_Custom_Viewmaseter_DV-07-CC_01.jpg

Check out the rear of the roof: 4103757354_ee18cf78f6.jpg

This was built for a President of Mexico:SIA-BohmanSchwartz_lede.jpg

72waga.jpg

Edited by Hudsy Wudsy (see edit history)
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I wish I could find a larger picture of this '49 Buick flower car to share. I'd also really like to see it with the hood down. It's elegant and slightly understated, just as you would expect a Buick to be. Personally, I don't think there are many other similar rides that I'd rather own:

1949+Buick+Flower+car.jpg

Buick lovers don't need no fins!

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I just can't seem to shake the image of this thing doing an involuntary wheelie up a steep San Francisco hill. Just absolutely pathetic and hilarious all at once. I'm also envisioning my people, the Irish, using something like this for a rolling wake. Lord knows if they would ever show up at the cemetery.

1395218036_8c5ddf91ab_b.jpg

Edited by Hudsy Wudsy (see edit history)
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Now that I see you're taking ambulances... By Yellerspirit

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Northeast Harbor's first ambulance, parked in front of the Fire Station and Municipal Offices. The Packard was purchased in 1937 and cost $4000

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I found this particular last ride so remarkably artistic and dramatic that I looked into it a little. It's one of those Spanish hearses referred to earlier from a Hemmings blog.

Spanishfuneralcars_02_1500.jpg

This hearse is based on a 1928 Latil, a French truck manufacturer that was in business from 1898 to 1955. I haven't been able to determine who did the coachwork. The statue of the weeping woman depicts "La LLorona", a mythic woman who figures in Spanish and Latin American lore. She drowned her three children in order to win the heart of the man she loved. When she died, she was turned away from the gates of Heaven and told that she must find her lost children in order to be saved. Thus, she was condemned to wander the earth in tears searching for them. There are a two more photos of it at the Hemmings blog site:

hearses and flower cars | Hemmings Blog: Classic and collectible cars and parts

I think that one of the things that I find so very striking and unique about it is the copper colored base coat that appears to be misted over with a black antiquing. If you look closely, you'll notice the spots on the front fenders where the black mist top coat is missing. If any of you see it differently, please correct me. I'm mostly just guessing on my assessment of it. If it is, however as I guess it to be, it's seems somewhat ahead of it's time paint-wise. Regardless of the technique, it makes for a gorgeous effect, doesn't it?

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I came across this picture of a Lasalle in a big hurry. It's from "Dr No" ('62) which, I think, was the first James Bond movie. If you go to the Internet Movie Car Data Base site you'll see photos of it hurtling off of a cliff. Not to fear, though! If you look closely at the stills you'll see that it turns miracously into an English Humber before it explodes at the bottom of the cliff. Where the LaSalle is now is anybody's guess, but at least it didn't meet it's doom that particular day.

Here's the Internet Movie Car Data Base site: IMCDb.org: 1939 LaSalle Funeral Coach Miller Combination [series 50] in "Dr. No, 1962"

i011838.jpg

Edited by Hudsy Wudsy (see edit history)
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Faith and Begorrah! I never knew that there were Irish coach builders! O'Gormans was located in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland. Here's a link to a short Wiki article about them:

O'Gorman Coach Builders - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They did some nice work. Since the O'Gorman's were Ford dealers, the car in the photo is a Ford. Now I know why it looked very familiar to me.

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