Funeral Cars

A Review of Funeral Car Evolution – Part 1

hearse dealersJust like anything that has changed over the years, funeral cars have evolved in the last hundred years or so. They have come a long way since the days when pallbearers would carry the casket from the church to the burial grounds.  In this three part series, we will take a brief look at how funeral cars and hearses have evolved over the years.  Here are a few of the different styles that funeral cars and hearses have experienced throughout history.

Auto Hearses
Once the idea of the automated vehicle caught on, funeral cars began becoming more and more automated, too. However, for many years they still looked like their horse-drawn counterparts complete with lanterns and woodwork on the sides.

More Sophistication
As funeral cars evolved, they became more sophisticated. One style had a tray that came out of the side of the hearse because there was not a back door. It was called a side-servicing casket table and it swiveled out of either side and then swiveled back in for more ease of loading and unloading the casket.

The Town Car
Some hearses and funeral cars became long and sleek to display even more class. On some, the driver’s area was open and the back part of the vehicle was closed in and covered with curtains to give the casket some privacy. The tires typically had white walls to give it an extra touch of class.

Those are just a few styles that funeral cars have evolved through over the years. Come back for a brief description of more!

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Bikes in a Funeral Procession

BikesIt’s not very often that you see a procession of bicyclists following the funeral cars behind a hearse, but in 2009, a procession like that made headlines and proved that customizing a funeral is a great way to honor a friend.

In Scottsboro, Alabama, a bicyclist was killed while riding his bike on Alabama 35. His name was Carlos Serrano, Sr. and he was part of the Tri-Sport Club, an organization in which members enjoy a number of activities that they enjoy as a group. Serrano was a longtime member of the biking club and he was active in his community and workplace for supporting and promoting physical fitness among employees. He was also very active in raising money for the needy.

While biking down Alabama 35, however, a driver struck him from behind. Guess what the driver was doing at the time: Reaching for his cell phone. He took his eyes off the road and it ended up costing somebody their life.

Following the funeral, several bicyclists from his group followed the hearse from the funeral home to the cemetery. It wasn’t as impressive as seeing a line of motorcyclists, but it was touching to see how much these other members cared for a fellow bicyclist.

This show of solidarity and unity provided a poignant display for the bereaved.   It drives home just how important customizing a funeral – both the service and the procession – can be when people want to make a loved one’s send off as unique and special as the person they are there to celebrate.

 


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Hearses – 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 yet, but you can start your hearse and control some of the functions on your vehicles through an app on your smartphone.

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.

Many experts point to the rapid advancements in autonomous driving field as an example of how quickly technology can advance.  Just a few years ago a self-driving car sounded like something straight out of Star Trek and now we live in an age where a self-driving car was actually pulled over by the police.  So many people think this development with hearses that can be started remote will lead to technology that brings the cars around, giving directors more flexibility.

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.

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.

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Tesla Model S Hearse Concept

Eco Friendly Hearses Offer a Greener Goodbye

Have you ever worried about what the planet is going to be like after you die? If so, there are things you can do to contribute your little part to its sustainability.  Consider making eco-friendly hearses and funeral cars a part of your pre-need funeral planning.

Many funeral homes are already turning to greener alternatives for their growing fleet of cars.  But, in the end, change in the professional sector is often driven by consumer demand.  More and more people are asking about funeral options with a smaller carbon footprint and, for many, that means discussing cleaner running cars for their own funeral as well as funerals family and friends plan for someone who has recently passed away.

Several companies have stepped up to help funeral directors modify their fleet or make a smart investment in greener cars.  Of course, when you’re talking about electric cars the first company most people think of
is Tesla.  So it should come as no surprise that Tesla has already unveiled their own fully electric hearse.   Engineers cut the Tesla in half, stretched the wheel base by 30 inches and then repositioned the battery.  The Dutch limo company RemetzCar worked with Vander der Lans & Busscher to put the finishing touches on with a specially designed funeral carriage profile.

The concept car was unveiled at the 2016 Funeral Exhibition in Gorinchem in the Netherlands and has been making headlines ever since.

And it’s been drawing plenty of attention at the 2016 Funeral Exhibition in Gorinchem in the Netherlands this week.  But it’s not the first – or only – greener hearse people can use for their final road trip.

The Hearse & Limo Company out of the Netherlands, for example, has made a name for itself as a premier dealer of hearses and one that has made eco-friendly hearse options a priority.  They now offer  hearses with hybrid technology, options that run on green gas and even fully electric models.

And let’s not overlook the other major player in the world of hybrid cars – Toyota.  When Toyota unveiled the Prius it was a game changer in the auto industry.  Strong interest and sales proved that there was a real and dedicated market for hybrid cars and the Prius became the industry’s flagship model.  Made – and priced – with the wider market in mind, Toyota has become a major player in the world of hybrid cars.  Way back in 2009 they announced their Toyota Prius hearse which boasted an impressive 49 mpg.

A shift for greener, more energy efficient cars has been growing for more than a decade now.  As we adapt the cars we use every day it makes sense that we also design new specialty cars and other forms of transport to be in line with a greener, cleaner and more Earth friendly approach.  After all, there’s something to be said for doing what we can to leave the world a little nicer than we found it.


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Funeral Cars – Are They Above the Law?

Anyone who has been a driver for more than a few years knows what it is like to deal with parking laws.  Stopping outside a shop on a busy street, double parking while you run back into your house to grab something or even just misinterpreting the hourly restrictions on a side street – every driver has a story about an epic parking issue.

We rarely think about hearses or funeral cars with respect to parking laws, but a story out of the UK made headlines when those two worlds came together.  A parking attendant working in Marlborough ticketed a funeral director who had parked his limousine at the street curb to wash it before a funeral.  The curb was painted with double yellow lines, designating it a No Parking zone but, as it was the curb outside his own funeral home, the director didn’t think twice about it.

The parking attendant didn’t think twice either – and issued a ticket on the spot.  The director became so upset about it that he splashed the attendant with water from the hose he was using to wash the car.  The attendant responded by adding assault charges to the paring ticket.

Do you think parking officers should be more lenient on funeral cars and hearses when they are parked somewhere where other cars are not allowed?  Was this a case of simply enforcing the letter of the law or an example of someone abusing their position of power?

The ironic part of the story is that David Hunter, the funeral director in question, asked the city to make the area outside his funeral home a “no parking” zone because other cars were parking there and blocking his hearses from getting in and out of the parking lot. He claims he was only partly parked on the double yellow lines and he said he was not blocking anybody in where he was parked. He went on to say this: “I know the wardens have a job to do but they should use their discretion.”

How do our readers weigh in on this story? Should the funeral director be allowed to park in the “no parking” zone in front of his facility to wash his hearses or did the parking warden do her job correctly? Let us know your thoughts below.


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And Now For Some Good News – Funeral Car Thief Nabbed

After our last post about funeral car burglaries, I thought I’d post a follow up to lighten your spirits.   If you recall, the burglaries occurred while mourners were inside the chapel grieving for their lost loved one. But after the incident, police in the area announced their investigation led to the arrest of the man they think is responsible for those burglaries.

Thane Albert Eck, a 35-year-old Terreton resident, was ultimately arrested for a string of related burglaries.  A few of the burglaries occurred on April 29 at the LDS Church on the corner of Second West and First South in Rexburg, Idaho. He is also charged with burglarizing other cars, including one at the Rexburg LDS Temple and one at a cosmetology school and beauty salon.

Eck was jailed later the same day on unrelated charges. However, once he was in custody, Rexburg Police connected some clues and came to the conclusion that Eck was the man they were looking for in connection with these burglaries.

In case you ever wondered what kind of person steals funeral cars, you should check out his cringe-worthy defiant mug shot.


Funeral Car Theft – Joyriders and Jokers or Thoughtless Thugs

You wouldn’t think funeral cars – specifically hearses – would be a big target for car thieves.   While the vehicles are only used sporadically, their ready access doesn’t make them exactly desirable.  They’re pretty easy to spot and attract attention wherever they are – hardly the ideal target for a thief.

Still, hearses are stolen fairly frequently and over the past few years there have been a handful of stories noteworthy enough to make national – and even international – headlines.

Back in 2009, Sammy Townsley made headlines when the Scottish teenager stole a hearse and then engaged in a high speed pursuit with local police.  Eventually the teenager lost control and crashed the vehicle.  After his arrest it emerged he had been in trouble for years and this joyride was another in a long line of offenses.

In 2014, hearse theft was back in the news, this time thanks to a man who stole a hearse during a funeral.  Omar Alejandro Gutierrez stole a hearse while a funeral service was being conducted inside a funeral home.  He was apprehended later the same day but the family in mourning was forced to deal with a sudden change in their plans as they were burying their loved one.

More recently, in Atlanta, a hearse was stolen with a body still inside.  This was another case where the thief quickly lost control of the car, smashed it and did escape for awhile.  But again, there was no real motive behind the theft.

What could these people be thinking?  not only are funeral cars fitted with GPS and tracking as the norm these days, a hearse isn’t exactly a low profile vehicle.  it’s something people are bound to notice if you’re speeding through the city behind the wheel – so why steal them?  Some say it’s all about the thrill and some say it’s just another way to flirt with death.  Whatever the rationale, it’s plain to see these thieves aren’t exactly the shiniest tools in the shed.

 

 


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A Custom Hearse Sure to Please Funeral Car Fans

 

Most funeral car enthusiasts purchase their cars for one of a few reasons. Some love the vehicles’ power. Some enjoy the quality craftsmanship. Many cite the cars’ ability to stand up well to hard use. Virtually all have one thing in common, however, a love for the vehicles’ innate beauty.

But a funeral home in South Carolina has a truly one of a kind custom hearse they make available for clients.  Hines Funeral Home, located in Hartsville, made headlines when they invested in a custom built “Timeless Hearse“.

The “Timeless Hearse,” as the owner calls it is unique in several ways. Rather than the traditional black, the hearse is painted in a brilliant white. However, it is the design that truly has heads turning and people talking.  It is based on a blend of the owner’s favorite features of three classic cars: the 1931 Rolls Royce, the 1932 Duisenberg and the 1934 Packard.

The chassis actually has two main frames rather than the traditional single frame, making the body 50% stronger. The vehicle features air suspension and a 5.3 liter V8 engine. The engine runs on gasoline, bio fuel or any mixture of the two.

The car’s body is made of a Kevlar composite, making it virtually impervious to corrosion. The trim is created from the highest grade surgical steel and hand polished to a perfect mirror finish. The wood is all hand polished African mahogany, also bearing a mirror finish. Even the hubcaps are unique, gold plated in 18k and featuring the funeral home’s name offset in black letters in the center.

The owners are mum on the total price of the new funeral car, but claim that it was less expensive than their usual budget for a new car.  The vehicle is classic and elegant, and well worth a look.


CustomHearse

Looking for Something Original? Consider a Customized Hearse

If you’ve ever been interested in buying one of the hearses for sale that you see in the paper or at a dealership, think about what kept you from making the purchase.  Sure, a nice hearse is pretty much a ready-made statement piece but maybe you thought there was something missing.  After all, traditionally there hasn’t been a whole lot of artistic diversity when it comes to hearses.  When looking at the local secondhand market for hearses, older ambulances and other similar cars, you can often start to feel like if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

That’s where customization comes into plaMotleyCrueHearsey.  Having a hearse customized can be a bit more of a challenge than your average car customization.  But any company that offers high-end car customization will be able to discuss plans for a hearse just as they would any other car.  Custom car shops are often home to some of the most creative artists and technicians who can hook you up with a one-off paint job, state of the art sound system and even car wraps designed for hearses.

 

If you want to take it to a real extreme, though, consider working with the amazing team at MacNeille.  The MacNeille team started customizing cars back in 1912, almost as soon as they were rolling off the assembly line.  With such a long history in the industry it’s no surprise they’re one of the most well-respected customization companies in the world.  One of their more noteworthy services is armor plating.  They’ve plated ambulances as well as police and military vehicles.  They don’t say if they’ve ever customized a hearse with armor plating, but there’s a first time for everything, right?

Customized hearses have become a great way for private owners to express themselves but some progressive funeral homes see them as an investment as well.  After all, when you can offer clients the chance to take their final ride in a motorcycle hearse or even a bicycle hearse, you’re bound to attract some extra attention.

 


Funeral Cars, Urban Legends and Hauntings

Many people are superstitious about funeral cars. Like all items that are associated with death, hearses and funeral cars have developed a bit of a reputation as symbols of evil, darkness and sadness. Accordingly, many urban legends have developed around the cars.

Haunted Hearses
Like graveyards, it seems that virtually every town has a story about a haunted hearse in the area. Some of these cars are owned by haunted houses or other companies with an interest in sharing ghost stories in order to boost business. Others are owned by funeral car enthusiasts who have a love of all things macabre. Still others are owned by those who would rather not be associated with ghost stories and find the whole situation most unfortunate.

Room for One More
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, a haunted hearse makes a rather chilling campfire tale. However, even spookier is the famous urban legend generally titled “Room for One More.” According to Snopes, the legend dates to at least 1912. It is so popular that it has been used in a Twilight Zone episode and in the 1945 film Dead of Night.

Urban Legend: Room for One MoreIn the original version of the tale, a girl is spending the night at the home of friends. She awakens to the sound of horses’ hooves and goes to the window to investigate. She sees an old-fashioned horse-drawn funeral car driven by an old coachman. Rather than a coffin, the hearse is filled with people. The coachman sees her watching and says, “There’s room for one more.” She is chilled by the offer and retreats to her bed.

The next morning she awakens, unable to decide whether the encounter was a dream. She heads to town to do some shopping. On the top floor of a department store, she considers taking the elevator. However, when she approaches, the elevator is almost full. The elevator operator catches her eye, and she is horrified to realize that he was the coachman in her dream. He says, “There’s room for one more,” and terrified, the girl declines. She turns away as the doors close. Suddenly there are screams and a rush of air followed by a crash. The elevator has fallen and everyone on board has been killed.

Whether or not you believe these stories, it is easy to see how they developed. Funeral cars and other items associated with death are considered taboo by many people. A fear of death is quite common, and it is easy to associate the items with the fear.