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Mistery Hearse Body

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I have a beautiful carved hearse body that was removed and stored in the 30s. I'm told they repurposed the chassis. It is right hand drive and I am including a photo of the firewall. It looks to be a 4 cylinder? Any information would be greatly appreciated. One gentleman suggested Stutz, another suggested early Cadillac. Thanks!

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Don't discount a right hand drive Ford Model T. I have seen a beautiful carved hearse on an early Model T Ford chassis. Somewhere I have some photos of it.  

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Where are you? Where is the body? Can you show photos, the more the better?

 

"It is right hand drive" that would be normal in England and Australia. In the US, not so much. There were a few US cars that clung to right hand drive as late as the early twenties, this could be an important clue if you were not in a right hand drive country, which of course we have no way of knowing.

 

When they sold a chassis it usually came with radiator, hood, cowl, and fenders. The shape of the cowl could be an important clue to the chassis make.

 

Car sales were more regional then. Strongest in a certain radius of the factory. Example, Pierce Arrow (Buffalo) Mercer (Trenton NJ) most popular in the northeast. Peerless (Cleveland) Stutz (Indianapolis) in the midwest.

 

Certain coach builders had a relationship with certain car manufacturers, and most of their bodies were on one or two makes of chassis. If you could identify the coachbuilder it might be a clue to the chassis make. There should be a builder's plate on the body, perhaps on the floor in the front, on the sills, or under the hood.

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Buick {also Studebaker} was often used as a  Hearse/ Ambulance chassis.  Robust 6 cyl. huge dealer network, reasonable cost.  And the rounded hood top is common on Buicks from 1915 -1923. 

 

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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The body is a Cynthiana, made in Kentucky. I believe it was made in the very early teens but really don't know. The website says they used a lot of Dodge chassis. I don't believe this to be a Dodge. Thanks again for your responses!

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Hearse makers sometimes used stretched passenger car chassis. They would cut the chassis with a hacksaw, pull the ends apart, and bridge the gap with pieces of channel iron, overlapped and bolted together. I have seen this on a 1926 Buick hearse chassis. Dodge would be easier than Buick because the open drive shaft is easier to lengthen.

 

Dodges were tough cars and could handle the extra weight. The Graham brothers got their start in the automobile business, by building light trucks on Dodge car chassis. After a few years they sold out to Dodge, and bought the Paige car company. I don't know if they made long chassis for hearses but it is a possibility.

 

I don't know how you could make a positive ID. If the original chassis is long gone and the company records have been destroyed. The only chance might be if you find a car whose hood is an exact fit to the cowl.

 

 I don't know what your intentions are. But, if you wanted to put the body on a chassis and put it back in running condition there are a lot of twenties cars with rotten bodies but restorable chassis. They turn up from time to time.

 

Later... After reading the coachbuilt write up on Cynthiana and looking at your pictures it seems most likely to be an early twenties body for a Dodge chassis.

 

Have you posted these photos on the professional car forum? It's the first link at the bottom of the Cynthiana write up at the Coachbuilt site.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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I looked at pictures of teens and twenties Buicks and Dodges, none have the same shape cowl with the deep rounded top, square break and straight sides. Do you have any pictures of a Cynthiana hearse with their own make chassis?

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http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/c/cynthiana/cynthiana.htm

 

Cynthiana Carriage Company moved from Cynthiana to nearby Covington, Kentucky in 1924. Their catalog featured a number of carved-panel funeral coaches mounted on Dodge chassis that included small oval windows behind the driver. Cynthiana customers had a choice of two different carved coach designs. The first was a pillar-less design that featured half-height subtly carved-panels while the other coach had the traditional 8-columns with traditionally carved drapes that included a small center window. 
For 1926 Cynthiana marketed a boxy limousine-style coach mounted on a Dodge chassis which featured two-tone paint, window shades and styling first seen in the late Teens. Bodies could be supplied on Cythiana's assembled 60hp Continental-equipped chassis, Studebaker's  purpose-built professional car chassis or on any chassis albeit new or used supplied by the customer.  

Like many other small builders, the Cynthiana  coaches that appeared in 1927 and 1928 mailings were beginning to look old in the tooth and lacked the modern long & low look typified by the glamorous late-Twenties Kissel professional coaches.

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Just to point out that the shape of the cowl might not be a totally accurate way to tell what chassis was used on an early hearse, I am attaching a photo of a hearse that is on a Model T Ford chassis. The coach builder apparently decided that it also needed a different radiator shell to make it look a bit different from more common production line Model T Fords. I am not sure of the exact year of this hearse, and I have no idea of who the coach builder was but the car is located in Southeastern NC. It has been in the same small town since it was a new hearse. 

 

I would suggest that the dimensions of the body compared to dimensions of different period chassis might be a better way to determine what chassis would work to restore the body, and thus probably what the original chassis was.

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Yes well worth restoring.  If for sale, I would like to look at it. Yes, become a member of the professional car society. They will be all over this body!!!!

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On further thought and looking at the pictures I think the body is more likely late teens than twenties. The cowl resembles those used with the straight sided hoods of the teens, not the more streamlined look of the twenties.

 

What makes you think it was right hand drive? Was this a common feature of hearses back then?

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All,

Kissel custom-built alot of hearses in the teens and twenties themselves. I don't know if they outsourced as well, but that certainly could have occurred. I have seen Kissel-built hearses. That being said, this is not, in my opinion, a Kissel Hearse from the late teens or twenties. The fittings, shapes, fenders, cowl, are all different and the cowl wall bears no similarity to contemporary Kissels. It doesn't "feel" like a 1917 - 1929 Kissel to me.

It could be an early Kissel up to 1916-ish, but I'm not familiar with those. I do think it's to old looking to be a 20's car.

Thanks, Ron Hausmann

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Although many people don't like to talk about these, and don't like them in their shows, I'm glad they have the Professional Car Society to cover these, Ambulances and flower cars.  The wood craftsmanship in these earlier ones was fantastic and very time consuming. Anyone that has done any kind of furniture building, or antique refinishing etc knows the time and effort that goes into producing all those intricate cuts and shapes.  Fine looking hand made body.

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The local notary has a photo of a hearse in use (or waiting for a customer) on their website.  Is that what you mean by the traditional 8 column design?

http://mariettanotary.com/

 

BTW the building is still there as well as much of the town.  This particular building just changed hands and new life is being put back into it.

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As with identifying any unknown body the fit to the frame is a large clue, unfortunately if does not show in juat about all pictures of bodies. Does this fit a flat frame or would the frame have a drop, or double drop? Can you identify mounting bolt holes to the frame? What would be their locations back from the firewall and how far apart ( across the frame).

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Layden,

Good catch. Each car manufacturer in the late teens had either a flat, single drop, or double drop frame. that would certainly help identifying. Kissels then were "double-drop" frames.

RON HAUSMANN P.E.

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Coming at this from another angle. Do you know where the body came from? Is it possible the hearse was photographed and the picture published in a local newspaper? If you can find a good  picture it could be a cinch to identify the chassis.

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It has a wooden "firewall". Does that mean it is not a Dodge, who used Budd bodies and thus steel cowls?

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My guess is that a body this elaborate would have been built for a more expensive chassis than a Dodge {or a Ford for that matter}.   As Layden suggests some photos of the underside and measurements of mounting holes would definitely help.

 

Greg in Canada

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Harrison County Historical Society has a little information on Cynthiana carriages.

 

http://harrisoncountyky.us/historical-society/

http://www.harrisoncountyky.us/harrison-heritage-news/hhn-04-08-(aug.)-(4-pgs.)-(dl-scan).pdf

 

"CYNTHIANA CARRIAGE CO. In a review of the various interests of Cynthiana, and factors that have contributed so
much toward the material development of the city and state mention must necessarily be made of a concern whose brilliant
record in the industrial field of Cynthiana for the past twelve years has placed them among the prominent and leading
enterprises of this section. We refer to the Cynthiana Carriage Co., builder of high grade road wagons and funeral cars and
dealer in remodeled hearses, coaches and casket wagons This concern has the reputation of building the strongest and
easiest riding buggies and road wagons on the market, and their funeral cars cannot be surpassed anywhere for quality and
price.
They do all kinds of repair work, retiring, trimming, painting, etc. They also make a specialty of remodeling casket
wagons and funeral cars and are the only firm in Kentucky to do this kind of work, Their plant is modem in equipment and
consists of three buildings containing over eight thousand three hundred square feet of floor space.
The Log Cabin, August 17, 1906 - For Sale -

 

We have about ten good second hand buggies, surreys and phaetons on hand, Columbus, Troy and other good makes repaired and painted, Cynthiana Carriage Co. The Log Cabin, September 14, 1906. - The Cynthiana Carriage Co. has sold to John T. Rorer, of Sunrise, a handsome hearse. The Company is doing a large business at this time. Cynthiana Democrat, October 12, 1916. - The Cynthiana Carriage Co., famed for its handsome work, has recently delivered a beautiful auto ambulance and funeral car combination to a Frankfort firm, Cynthiana Democrat, June 8, 1922. - Itis announced that the Cynthiana Carriage Co. will move their plant to Covington in the next few weeks. Scarcity of labor necessary to keep the plant in operation is given as the reason

Edited by mike6024 (see edit history)

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