I have been saving this 1987 Cadillac DeVille hearse for Halloween, although I had photographed it last year near Tuxedo, New York where I was attending a Renaissance Faire. It was being used to advertise something called Forest of Fear. Well, in this case the advertising didn’t work: I didn’t go to the Forest of Fear because I would be jumpy enough walking through woodlands at night even without costumed people jumping out at me. But I sure took notice of this hearse, even if what it was advertising was not my cup of tea.
Arguably the biggest failing of the 1985-88 Cadillac DeVille/Fleetwood, next to the unreliable HT-4100 engine, was the styling. While neat and elegant, it failed to either establish an exciting new design direction or retain the conspicuous and ostentatious proportions and detailing of its predecessor. Blame a styling department that was so terrified of scaring off existing buyers that it stubbornly retained existing design themes on drastically downsized bodies. The design faux pas was also noticeable in hearse format: while I feel these downsized Caddys are somewhat unfairly maligned, this DeVille hearse looks scarcely more commanding than would a Chevrolet Celebrity wagon with a coffin in the back.
The upcoming all-female Ghostbusters movie will use a 1980-84 Cadillac as the “new” Ecto-1. Although not as garish as the original Ecto-1, based on a ’59 Caddy, it has a certain old-school, larger-than-life charm. Alas, the featured 85-88 hearse just doesn’t have that, even if it is efficiently packaged.