Funeral Driving Etiquette: What to Do When in a Procession of Funeral Cars

There is often a lot of focus on informing drivers what to do when they encounter a procession of funeral cars – but what about when you’re in the procession of funeral cars?

Here we’ve brought together some simple, straight-forward rules on what to do when you are a part of the funeral procession.  We’ve tried to address the most common questions and challenges so that bereaved drivers can act with confidence and understand what to expect from other drivers as well as what may be expected from them.

  • Lose the Lead Foot – Funeral processions travel more slowly than average.  expect to keep your speed at least 5 miles under the posted speed limit, including when you’re on the highway.  this is done to ensure everyone can keep up and stay together.
  • Filter Out the Flashing Lights – Since funeral processions travel more slowly, they may be have a police escort.  Try not to get distracted by the flashing lights.  Keep your eyes focused on the car ahead of you in order to keep up with the procession.
  • Turn Your Headlights On – This is so other cars can see you clearly and they are alerted that you are part of the procession.
  • Stay in Position – It is extremely rude to even try to pass the car in front of you while driving in the procession.
  • Keep Up With the Procession – If you fall too far behind, you may lose the other cars and all the cars behind you will be lost, too.
  • Use Caution at Intersections – Although funeral cars are allowed to go through stop lights and intersections, drivers these days simply do not pay attention and they could plow into you. Just take a quick look both ways to see if it looks like any cars are going to pose a problem before proceeding through the intersection.
  • Are You The Last in Line – If your car is the last in the funeral procession you should have two funeral flags and have been instructed to have your hazard lights flashing.  Sometimes this is not necessary with a full police presence.
  • Run the Light – Funeral processions are usually given the full right of way at red lights and Stop signs.  No matter what you encounter, do not stop if the car ahead of you continues to go.

These simple rules can help make the journey to the cemetery a bit less stressful.  if, however, you feel you are too emotional to drive, ask the funeral home about transportation options through their funeral car service.

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Muscle Car Hearses – Funeral Cars for Old School Car Enthusiasts


Mention ‘muscle cars’ to most car fans and they’ll waste no time telling you about their favorite model.  Chevy’s iconic Corvette, Ford’s Mustang Shelby, Pontiac’s Firebird Trans Am and – of course – the Dodge Charger have all become such cultural icons they are recognizable to car enthusiasts and the general public alike.  These cars have come to represent power, freedom and the thrill of the open road.

So what happens when someone who loves these iconic pieces of American history passes away?  For some, the thought of making their final ride in a traditional hearse leaves them feeling underwhelmed.  Their family and friends often feel the same way and wish there was a way for their loved one to ride to their final place in a car befitting the way they lived.

That’s where muscle car hearses come in.

Back in 2009, these funeral cars made a splash when they were a part of Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise.  Every August, the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, Michigan, dazzles thousands of spectators who come to see the best that the automakers have put out over the years. More than 40,000 custom cars, collector automobiles, street rods and other impressive vehicles line Woodward Avenue revving their engines and showing people what they got. But this year there is going to be a new unique addition to the annual event.

As part of the event, Lynch Sons Funeral Home of Clawson displayed a classic 1939 Henney-Packard hearse at Peabody’s Restaurant in nearby Birmingham. The hearse was part of a much larger display that showcased the history of the American funeral.  The display, “Reflections: The American Funeral,” was a museum on wheels complete with exhibits on funeral customs, practices and other funeral-related items designed to educate and entertain.  It featured relics from the past and glimpses of the future – including innovative new designs for funeral cars.

Muscle hearses were still new back then and, while they still haven’t exactly gone mainstream, they have developed an enthusiastic fan base.   South East Funeral Services in Australia, for example, now offers muscle car hearse options for people who want to make their last ride one to remember.   Then, in 2013, a team out of Atlanta, Georgia unveiled their custom hot rod hearse – a ’60 Cadillac Superior Coachworks hearse they had completely revamped, reworked and re-imagined into something new.  They dubbed their creation the Thundertaker and had it featured on  You can check out the details of this 36-month build on HotRod’s feature article on the Thundertaker.

Muscle cars and hearses were not traditionally the kinds of cars most people would think of combining.  As funerals have become more customizable, however, hearses have also become a way for people to express themselves.  Collectors and funeral homes alike now see the benefit and the joy there is in creating beautiful hearses and other funeral cars by reworking the traditional views and creating a fleet of cars for a whole new generation.

Forgotten Veterans – The Missing in America Project

Did you know that there are literally thousands of unclaimed urns full of ashes left behind at funeral homes?  That comes out to about 10 percent of the total number of cremations conducted each year.   In many cases, these remains are never reunited with family or loved ones.  Sometimes it’s because a family ends up not being able to pay for the cremation.  Other reasons can include people who were not able to be identified at the time of their death, or those who passed away with no surviving family or friends.

Many people have wondered if it would be possible to find a final resting place for an important segment of uncollected remains – the final remains of veterans.  One nationwide veterans group is trying to do something to identify and claim many of the cremains that came from soldiers who fought for their country.

The Missing in America Project has identified more than 3,000 remains over the past several years.   In some cases, they have been able to get the remains to surviving family members while, in others, fellow servicemen and women have stepped forward to provide a final resting place for their fallen friend.

Quite often, the MIA Project is able to have a full funeral service for veterans once they are identified.  This includes a full funeral car procession and ceremonies related to their branch of the Armed Services.   The Missing in America project works with local funeral homes, social service organizations, veteran’s groups, legions and VFWs.  To learn more about their project or to find out how you can help, check out their home page at


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Vintage Funeral Cars – A Walk Down Memory Lane

We love looking at the newest technologies and options when it comes to funerals and funeral cars, but we also love looking back.   Let’s take a walk down memory lane. These unique vintage funeral cars exude a style and flair that will stop you in your tracks.

The funeral cars featured below include: Lincoln, Lorraine, Packard, Pontiac and Sayer and Scovill

Most of these hearses have been restored and resold via auctions throughout the years.

1941 Lincoln V-12 Custom Ambulance

1941 Lincoln V-12 Custom Ambulance

1947 Lincoln Hearse (Argentina)

1947 Lincoln Hearse (Argentina)

1920 Lorraine – Twelve-Column Carved Panel Hearse

1920 Lorraine

1937 Packard Flower Car

1937 Packard Flower Car

1938 Packard Art-Carved Model Hearse

1938 Packard Art-Carved Model Hearse

1941 Packard

1941 Packard

1940 Pontiac

1940 Pontiac

1919 REO Hearse

1919 REO Hearse

1924 Sayers and Scovill

1924 Sayers and Scovill

1936 Sayers and Scovill Romanesque Hearse

1936 Sayers and Scovill Romanesque Hearse

Photos via HearseWorks


Want to Control Your Hearse Fleet With your Smartphone? There’s an App for That!

Remote control iphone app for funeral hearsesImagine, if you will, being in the middle of a funeral service and you pull out your iPhone. You open up the remote control app you have installed and start one of the hearses in your fleet. Then you push a button and the hearse wheels itself around to the front of the building and stops to wait for the pall bearers to carry the casket to the back of the vehicle. Amazing thought, isn’t it?

Well, you can’t do all of that with your iPhone, but you can start your hearse and control some of the functions on your vehicles with your iPhone.

The technology is courtesy a company called Delphi. Using Bluetooth technology, the company has created an app that allows you to remote start your vehicles through your key fob. You can also unlock doors and operate several other vehicle functions remotely.

This is a huge step forward from yesteryear, huh?

As a funeral director, you are always trying to make your processes more efficient and elegant. Your iPhone can now participate and make that happen for you and your business.

Delphi isn’t even the only company getting into the smartphone apps for car control.  Viper SmartStart, for example, offers remote start, real time tracking and security features which can be useful for funeral directors managing a large fleet with multiple drivers.

The next time you speak to your funeral coach dealer, ask about the iPhone remote control app. Ask if they’ve heard of it. This technology is only bound to get better and that’s something to look forward to.

13 Photos That Prove Vintage Hearses are Still Cool

The first motorized hearses were produced in 1909. Prior to that hearses were horse-drawn. It wasn’t until 1920 that motorized hearses become more mainstream. Early on, some hearses also doubled as ambulances because of the large capacity in the back of the vehicle.

The majority of hearses in North America are Cadillacs and Lincolns. Mercedes-Benz, Daimler, Jaguar and Volvo are the main bases for the hearse in Europe.

Cadillac manufactured a “commercial chassis” which is a strengthened version of the typical passenger car to handle the extra bodywork weight, rear deck and cargo. Ford Motor sells a Lincoln Town Car that is built with expectations of becoming a hearse. Coachbuilders, manufacturer of bodies for automobiles, take the base of the car and put the finishing touches on that turns the vehicle into a working hearse.

Below are 13 late model hearses, each with their own distinctive appearance.

Class Hearse Gothic

Classic Hearse Black Open

Classic Hearse Black

Classic Hearse Glass

Classic Hearse Gold

Classic Hearse Kneel

Classic Hearse long window

Classic Hearse Open

Classic Hearse Ornament

Classic Hearse Style

Classic Hearse Tall

Classic Hearse White

Photos via Bad Control


Hearse Spotlight: The Thundertaker – A Killer Cadillac Custom Car

We thought it was high time we dedicated some space to admiring some of the amazing custom hearses out there today.  For our first spotlight piece we’re looking at the Thundertaker, an amazing custom Cadillac hearse.

The 1960 Cadillac hearse Thundertaker shown below is the creation Bryan Fuller and his shop Fuller Hot Rods.  Fuller is a longtime fan of hearses and frequently drove a hearse around as a form of transportation.  Fuller craved a little more and the Thundertaker was born.

1960 Cadillac Thunder

This Thundertaker rides on one of the longest hot rod chassis out there. Fuller and his team loaded this Cadillac with every entertainment electronics available. The leather and every bolt, top of the line.  All in, Fuller estimates the project took well over 6,000 hours.  “There was, at the very least, one guy on the car for 40 hours a week for three years,” Fuller says, “but the harder the build is, the more rewarding it is in the end.”

The 1960 Cadillac Superior Coachworks hearse certainly has come alive with this incredible customization job.


Do you know about a custom or otherwise amazing hearse we should spotlight in our series?  Share it in the comments below!


Hearse Legends and Urban Myths (Hearse Legends – Part Three of a Three Part Series)

We hope you have been enjoying our exploration of hearse stories and legends of funeral cars.  For our final installment of this series, we decided to do a small round-up of myths and legends from around the country.  Each of these legends has its devout believers as well as its cynics and skeptics.  In each case, the stories have been passed around for years – generations, even – and so have become part of the local culture and folklore history.

Archer Woods Cemetery – Chicago, Illinois
If you plan to visit this old cemetery at night, you may see a ghostly team of horses pulling a phantom hearse through the serene setting.  Those who have seen it report it’s an extremely frightening sight, but there are still those who say it’s nothing more than the result of some healthy imaginations.

Sleepy Hollow Road – Louisville, Kentucky
With a name like Sleepy Hollow Road, you would expect a plethora of strange occurrences. Several modern-day ghost stories happen along this road, including one story of a ghostly black hearse that follows cars that pass by. The hearse not only follows the cars, but it also causes them to run off the road and over a cliff. According to sightings, the hearse begins following as soon as you enter the road. It then increases in speed, causing the driver of the car to lose control until it plunges into the 30-foot ravine that runs alongside Sleepy Hollow Road.

American Fork Canyon (Wasatch Mountains, Utah)
Locals often mention American Fork Canyon when discussing haunted places in Utah.  The local legend says that people who drive in a circle three times at the top of Tibble Fork don’t leave the park alone.  Once the circles are done and people pull out of the parking lot, they see a ghostly hearse following them.

How do you feel about these legends? Are you a firm believer in them or do you just find them an interesting part of American folklore? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts or share your own local hearse myths and legends!


The Helltown Hearse (Hearse Legends – Part Two of a Three Part Series)

In this week’s installment of our Hearse Legends series, we’re taking a look at an urban legend that comes out of Ohio.  Summit County is in Northeast Ohio, near Akron, and is known for its beautiful parks, music venues and a host of other attractions scattered across the county.  While there are plenty of family friendly attractions throughout Summit County, the northern part of the county is known for an entirely different reason.

Helltown is the unofficial name given to an area made up of a cluster of smaller towns.  The small towns – Boston Township, Boston Village, Sagamore Hills and Northfield Center Township – are commonly referred to as the Boston Mills area.  But for locals – and adventure seekers – it’s also known as Helltown.

The area was originally settled in the early 1800s and quickly became a hub of production for a number of mills that used trees to create building materials and paper.  The mills were such a big part of the community and local economy that when a railroad station was built in the 1880s it was named Boston Mills in reference to the local industry.

By the 1960s, however, a growing number of people were concerned about the destruction of forests throughout the country – including in the Boston Mills area.  In 1974, President Ford signed off on legislation that allowed the National Park Service to purchase land in order to enhance the National Park system.  The legislation also allowed the use of ’eminent domain’ to acquire land and, once it was passed, the government began buying up land – and homes – throughout the Boston Mills area.  As a result, droves of residents were forced to relocate.

As more and more people were forced out and trees became protected, the local economy suffered and, in the end, much of the Boston Mills area was absorbed into the  Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  As the government bought more homes, the houses often sat vacant until they could be demolished.  The area gave every appearance of being a ghost town,particularly to people passing through.  Many people say this is where the legends surrounding Helltown began.

The Legends of Hell Town

There are a number of urban legends and rumors when it comes to Helltown.  Some people claim the town was evacuated not because of the parks, but because of a deadly chemical spill the government wanted to cover up.  Although there is no official record of any such spill, it’s a legend that continues to this day.

Rumors about the local cemetery are also popular.  In one story, people claim to have seen a ghost that sits on a bench in the cemetery.  Visitors say the ghost does not move or interact – just that it sits staring blankly into space.  There are rarely any other details given about the ghost which makes it hard to compare versions.

Another cemetery-based rumor is that the trees in the cemetery move in unnatural ways.  Rumors about the trees persist and people claim the origin could be the restless souls of children in the cemetery or even the involvement of a Satanic cult.

Other local legends include stories of a school bus full of children being slaughtered by a serial killer (though sometimes the story features an escaped mental patient instead) as well as abandoned houses with lights that mysteriously come on and that at least two of the local churches are used as covers for evil cults.


The Haunted Hearse

While there are plenty of stories about Helltown, the most famous is about the Haunted Hearse.  The area of Helltown is littered with dead-end streets lined with abandoned homes and plenty of trees and overgrown vines that give the area a decidedly creepy feel, especially at night.

Locals claim that if you drive down certain roads you’ll find yourself being chased by a hearse which appears to have a ghostly looking man at the wheel.  In some stories the hearse appears out of nowhere and in others the car has only one, weak headlight.

Some of the stories have connected this ghostly hearse with the number of fatalities on Standford Road (aka ‘The End of the World’).  Stanford Road has its own grisly reputation – locals and urban myth believers claim the road is cursed and drivers risk having a fatal crash if they choose to drive down the road.  Some claim the road itself is possessed while others say that evil spirits possess the drivers and force them to crash the car purposely.  Even cynics of the legends have to admit that Standford Road, with it’s sharp turns and steep inclines, is the scene of fatal crashes quite often.

As far as the haunted hearse of Helltown goes, however, there are records that show a family did own a hearse at one time in the small town.  They drove it around mostly around Halloween and became a regular feature in the landscape of the town.  Skeptics point out that the road in question is marked by a large “ROAD CLOSED” sign nd that there is even a gate that goes across the road and is locked tight.  The road is surrounded by dense woods on either side, making it impossible for a hearse to even drive down the road.

Then again, none of that would matter if the hearse is a ghostly apparition.

Either way, the legends and urban myths surrounding Helltown have turned it into a cult favorite for local adventure seekers.  It has become a fairly well-known attraction for people throughout Ohio and urban explorers from the surrounding area.  In the end, Helltown’s network or legends and creepy appearance could be what breathes new life into the modern day ghost town.




The Haunted Mansion Hearse (Hearse Legends – A Three Part Series)

Hearses and funeral cars are probably the most storied vehicles in the history of our culture. Even before the modern-day hearses, the mystique of death and the horse-drawn carriage has always grabbed peoples’ attention. That’s why there are so many legends about hearses and funeral cars in our society. We would like to explore some of those legends of funerals cars in a multi-part blog series.  We hope you will enjoy this and learn something new at the same time.

The Haunted Mansion Hearse

One of the most common legends concerning a hearse takes us to Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride. Before entering the ride, an old-fashioned horse-drawn hearse provides an ominous feeling to those wanting a thrill. According to legend and rumors, this is the same carriage that transported the body of Brigham Young, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His funeral took place in 1877, making this hearse more than a century old.

It’s a detail passed around Disney fans for years and is often accepted at face value.  After all, there are dozens of stories passed around about Disney history.  The fact that this one involves a hearse has made it especially appealing to generations of visitors.  The blend of Disneyworld whole fun with the macabre is simply too good to pass up.  Although this is one of the most prominent hearse legends, it is not true.

Glen M. Leonard, director of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Museum of Church History and Art, went on the record in an attempt to dispel the myth once and for all.  He confirmed that “historical evidence shows no hearse was used,” before going on to tell the story of Brigham Young’s real funeral transportation.

Brigham Young had set out a specific set of instruction he expected to be carried out long before his death in August of 1877.  When Young passed away, those explicit directions were carried out by his staff.  Among the directions had been the naming of pall bearers taken from his pool of clerks and employees.  These men were selected to carry Young’s body from its death bed to the Tabernacle in preparation for his funeral.  After the funeral, those same pall bearers carried Young’s body to a nearby private cemetery.  Simply put, there were no wheeled vehicles of any kind, horse-drawn or otherwise, used in the funeral of Brigham Young.

Exposing this urban legend doesn’t dispel the mystery around the hearse however.  The lineage of the Haunted Mansion hearse can only be traced back to its purchase by Disney from Dale Rickards, a collector in Malibu.  Earlier records for the hearse had disappeared and the manufacturer’s plate had been removed.  This makes it impossible to trace the hearse’s history any further and, as a result, ripe for speculation.  So while it certainly wasn’t used in the funeral of Brigham Young, that doesn’t mean it’s history is any less intriguing.