(first posted 10/29/2011) B-Bodies are mighty popular with the CC crowd; every article on them generates peak readership and comments. Since I’m a long-range thinker (maybe medium-range is more accurate), I’ve entered into discussions with Musgrove Family Mortuary whereby they would agree to maintain this pristine B-Body Buick Hearse for as long as necessary to haul my X-Body on its final car ride. Just one hitch: they won’t do it for me alone; we need to sign up at least twenty hard-core B-Body fans for them to commit. So here it is: a chance to secure the ultimate ride in the ultimate B-Body wagon. A $250 deposit is all it takes; details after the jump. I know I can count on you.
I might be off a year one way or the other on its exact model year, but this quarter-century old Buick meat wagon is still in the prime of its life, a cut above the typical boring late-model Caddy. And I’ve negotiated the deal such that if we get twenty-five of us signed up, we can get it modified a bit to even better suit our B-taste.
The fake wire wheel covers have to go for sure; we’ll have to debate the choices for replacement. The Buick styled steel road-wheels are probably going to be the popular choice, but a set Cragars might be worth considering. I know in our crowd that big donks wont have a chance. Maybe plain steel wheels with dog-dishes?
And a big debate will be whether to have fake wood applied to its flanks. Normally, I’m more of a clean-sided guy, but the idea of a woodie meat wagon has a definite appeal.
There’s plenty of nice wood on the inside, so why not on the outside. Man, those rollers would be perfect for loading sheets of plywood or sheetrock. Maybe I can make a deal where I buy it outright and rent it out for those special occasions. Or maybe open up a natural burial service. I know how to whip out a nice plain pine box, and there’s folks out in the country that have meadows set aside for this sort of thing. If that appeals more, let me know. I’m always game to try a new sideline business, and there’s undoubtedly more bucks in it than blogging about B-Bodies.
The driver’s compartment is in mighty fine shape too; but then mortuaries know how to keep old bodies looking at their best. Of course, thinking about driving this big baby brings up another important question: whether to swap in something a bit more potent than the 140 hp 307 Olds V8. I happen to think that a burnout is essential at the start of a funeral parade, so I’m there. Got any suggestions?
The acres of vinyl are still as soft as a baby’s bottom, but the Mortuary’s garage is full up with more modern iron. So I make no guarantees on the roof’s condition when your turn comes, but we promise to trim any moss and weeds that might be growing on it by then, should it take that long.
Just for the record, this is a genuine Superior Coach, and not some cheap imitation. And to help close the deal, here’s what you’re not going to have to ride in, thanks to your pre-planning deposit:
That certainly wouldn’t do. Totally unforgivable for a Curbside Corpse.
Oops; Looks like there’s another B-Body hauler still at work. But come on; Cadillacs are just way too common and obvious. The Buick with a nice set of wheels and wood applique has this beat hands down, right?
I know you wouldn’t want to be jammed into the compact model. They only keep it around for use during a gas-spike, or for hauling urns. It just wouldn’t be respectful otherwise.
So there we have it. I just need nineteen other like-minded souls to join me in this bit of advance planning. I can almost see myself in there now already.
I’m being cremated. Spread my ashes in a H-Body Eighty Eight.
“I’m being cremated. Spread my ashes in a H-Body Eighty Eight.”
How about putting your ashes in the….. ash tray?
Theres a 52 Ford hearse being restored a few houses away from me but I like the idea of the burnout so that might rule out flathead Fords. How about widened black steel rims thin white walls and a warm 350 with open headers.
Woody Hearse-been done-and by Superior no less-I wonder how many of these they moved? One of these in white should have been Elvis’s last ride.
Oh BTW, factory Buick road wheels for sure.
That DTS hearse is just wrong on so many levels.
No woody this 52 coachbuilt in NZ
There’s something funny about people smiling and looking admiringly at a hearse.
I can’t tell, Roger. Are those people smiling benevolently? I volunteer to drive the CC Hearse if I can do it with a light bulb in my mouth.
Good band rigs, too. I’d love one.
I think I remember hearing that Neil Young and his band rode around LA in an old hearse in the 60s. The amps just rolled right in.
Hey Capn! Yeah, it was a ’58 from what I’ve read. Painted purple.
I had a ’63 Cad Sayers & Scoville Hess & Isenhardt 3-way Landau.
Very top of the line. Cost over $14,000. About $2000 more than the top of the line Superior coach.
You could buy a brand new ’63 Chevy Biscayne for $2003!!!
Have made a study of professional/funeral cars for years now. SO much to learn!!!
This one looks like it was based off a LeSabre, not the Electra. It needs Buick road wheels, or maybe the turbine style alloys the ’85-90 Estate Wagons had. I wonder if Superior made any based on the Caprice Estate, Custom Cruiser or Safari? The C-body Brougham and FWD hearses are pretty rare these days. The FWD Cadillac is interesting in that it has the more formal ‘commercial glass’ roof, which is taller than the factory roofline. What are they going to make new ones out of with the DTS and Town Car gone after 2011?
Lincoln MKT. Not much modification needed.
Probably use the XTS.
Cadillac Escalades or GMC Denalis, maybe Buick Enclaves?
The turbine wheels would be awesome!
Instead of the vinyl “wood” I’d suggest a wood veneer. There was a guy on the Jeep forums that did that to a Wagoneer with flames stained into it that looked awesome.
Just be careful road-tripping in this thing. When you wake up from napping in the back, get out the back door and stretch at the gas station, it really, really freaks out the attendant-as a friend of mine learned, helping to drive a new one back to FLA from the factory in Kansas City. Pump jock took one look at him, and we think he is still running. Happy Halloween!
Here is a limo version I see around town once and while
Right after high school and for a couple of years into college I worked summers and vacations at a large funeral home. I spent a LOT of time driving these, but they were the Cadillacs from 77-79. The ones that still had the big 425s, and those things would move pretty well, considering all the weight. And lemmie tell ya, you get pretty good at relying on your side mirrors to back up.
To the gas station every night, and through the car wash every morning. Those GM silver lacquer paint jobs just got the snot beat out of them by the carwash brushes. The cars barely had a shine after two years.
Periodically there was a need to drive out of town, so of course, they sent the cheap young guys. They actually did not ride all that well due to the heavy duty suspensions and the ponderous weight and size. Horrible gas mileage, too.
I much preferred to drive the limos, sedans, and especially the trucks (a Scout, a Ford pickup, an Econoline and a Suburban with no interior after the drivers seat. I got a lot of experience driving different cars in that job, and remember them all pretty well.
I will pass on the subscription. Been there, done that. Actually, this is a good idea for some enterprising young guy – restore a few classic funeral coaches, then market yourself to classic car buffs and the funeral industry, and become a travelling classic hearse provider. You would need stuff a lot cooler than this, though.
OK you’ve got my attention a Scout owned by a funeral home? For what purpose?
It had a plow on the front. When I worked there, they had two locations. The bigger one had a 71 Ford pickup with a plow, and the smaller one had the Scout. Rather than hiring it out, they just kept a plow truck at each location and after a snow, somebody would be assigned to fire up a plow and clear the lot. I think it was about a 67. The body was not bad because it spent most of its life in the garage. But it was still rustier than it should have been. Also, it was unpleasant enough to drive that whenever anyone needed something with some utility, the Suburban or the Econoline was usually the choice.
This was in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the Scouts were built, so maybe there was some civic pride at play. But no, it was not black, and it was not used as a hearse for the budget funerals. 🙂
Come on it would have been perfect for burying somebody wayyyyyyyyyyyy off the beaten path.
And only people who are really, really short. Or most politicians: I am told that after an enema, you just need a shoebox.
Ahh one of the many private plow Scouts that were once so common in states with a lot of snow.
I agree with JPCavenaugh’s last statement.
While more appealing than a modern coach, it it has that ’80s trashy, crappy aesthetics.
I know I’m a funeral coach fascist, but generally hearses are so beautiful, maybe in a creepy-cool way, that any mags, flames or skeletons only desecrate these amazing, rare, coach built cars.
Like with any U.S. car imo, you have to go pre-’72ish for any REAL dignity, coupled with real metal.
Post ’72 recycled metal is tRaSh. And on a low production funeral car, these custom-built bodys were NOT dipped for rust protection like a production line car.
That made these old coaches far more susceptible to rot.
A story about hearses isn’t complete unless we stop and pay tribute to John Keel, who was one of the top experts on hearses in the world, all before the age of eighteen…
On a different note, my father’s final ride was in a new 2011 Chrysler Town and Country. Because of that reason alone, I have a respect for those vans, because I just miss my dad…
Here is his headstone…
This is on the back…
For once, I have no story to tell – wait a minute, just this one: A friend and I were on our way to see our buddy in St. Joseph, MO. My friend had been drunk since Columbia, MO, but he came to his senses real quick when we passed a hearse and he was transporting a body, only covered by a sheet! That was shocking to us back then.
That’s about all I have to say on hearses. Nice article, though.
Mourning becomes Electra? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Well since Paul brought up an engine swap shall I suggest an Olds 403 for smoky burnouts? Gonna need a TH350 or 400 though to handle that torque without exploding.
My personal choice for wheels is baby moons and trim rings.
But Dan I’m just too partial to the Chevy 350, having done a TPI swap in my ’89 Caprice that replaced an Olds 307.
An easier way to go is a TBI 350 – not as glamorous but plenty of power and good on gas. Use a post-1987 TH700-R4, greatly improved over the early models.
Get Mike Knell’s “Chevrolet TBI/TPI Engine Swapping” book and the Helm Manuals for the Buick and the donor engine’s car.
Wheels…my vote’s for baby moons and trim rings. Blingy 22’s would just kill the ride quality anyway.
Hahahahahahahaha! Stop it! You’re killing me here!
Well, finally! I’ve been waiting for a CC on a hearse for, like, an eternity . . .
I disagree about wanting a Buick (a tarted-up Chevy wagon) – Cadillac all the way for me! The Cadillacs were built on commercial chassis up through 1976, and the only sheet metal they shared with their car cousins was from the firewall forward.
I owned two 1969 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulances for ten years (one was a driver, one was a never-to-be future project) fun I have ever had with a car! Mine had the high-compression 472 so it would easily break the right rear tire loose, even with 2.xx rear end gears. And I had a PA speaker in it which proved to be a lot of fun while in college (such as by shining the dual A-pillar-mounted spotlights on hapless pedestrians and yelling “freeze”).
Both of them are no longer – a year ago, the last one popped up on Craigslist for sale (15 years after I had sold it) but it was being hauled on the back of a flatbed tow truck to its new owner and apparently the tow truck lost control on I-5 and it flipped (or it wasn’t properly secured and fell off, I didn’t get all of the details).
I owned them from 1985 to 1995, before it was “cool” to have such a vehicle. As such, I basically gave them away when I sold them (quite literally on the second one, I paid hundreds of dollars to stuff a running motor in it so I could drive it across the state to its new owner).
Most, but the Cadillac pictured above is not on a commercial chassis.
As by it’s length you can tell it’s a converted DeVille or Fleetwood.
I would go with a GNX’ed 3.8 Turbocharged V6, in keeping with the Buick tradition.
When I was growing up, my dad had two b-body wagons: a sometime-in-the-eighties Chevy Caprice wagon in burgundy and an even-earlier-in-the-eighties Olds Custom Cruiser in beige with wood siding. I must say that, looking back, the solid wine red held up better than the fake wood siding (although the beige may have had some negative effect on that). I was like 10-14 years old at the time, so I have no idea what engines were in them aside from being large V-8s, and have fond memories of the Olds being used for family vacations. It was a weird feeling looking at the traffic through the back glass from the rearward-facing rear seat. I suppose though, rear-facing third rows aren’t going to be an issue with hearses, what with the whole lack of rear seats to begin with. And to be honest, I’m okay with those fake wire-rim Buick hubcaps, thanks to my mom’s ’87 Century she had for a few years before her pair of Caravans.
I do wonder what that thing would look like in glossy black with matching Torq Thrust rims, though…
My motto… Put no money in the ground, I’m selling my corpse to the highest bidder and adding the amount it sold for to my estate. But I do like a nice hearse.
The small town I grew up in had that exact hearse up until a few years ago. The funeral home now has a black DTS and a Suburban (I assume for pickups). I always thought it was terrible and cheap for them to have the Buick instead of the standard Cadillac. Looking back, it was a great idea. They weren’t exactly common around here.
There used to be a whole variety of hearses and hearse combinations available, we have mostly wound up with just one basic style with a choice of 2 manufacturers, though Lincoln hearses are a more recent becomming common, it used to be few and far between that you would see a Lincoln hearse in the 80’s and early 90’s.
Through the end of the big rwd GM chassis, a few hearse builders still carried a Caprice based low end hears, a Buick Roadmaster based hearse and of course a Fleetwood based hearse at the top of the line up.
Going back even further, there were Pontiac and Oldsmobile chassis hearses through the mid 80’s and even a little later too.
Here is an English Granada death mobile I spotted in my neighborhood a while back… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgwuzQbz3dM
At the Auto Show, my then 18 y/o niece called the Chevy HHR a ‘little hearse’. She didn’t grow up with wagons. This may be why station wagons fell out of favor in America, too many reminded them of hearses
Nice. I think a 350 under the hood and a set of mags would do the trick. That said, someone near us has an early ’60’s Cadillac hearse in their driveway. It would look great done up…I’m going to keep an eye on it.
I know it’s not a car, but this is still a stunning hearse!
Where can I buy one at I always wanted one so someone let me know where I can purchase one of this style
European hearses have a glass panel where the American ones have a metal panel on the rear of the upper body.
Common hearses here are Volvo S80s and Mercedes S-Class cars.
In Britain Colman-Milne had the hearse and stretch limo market covered – they used Fords and, I think still do.
The LWB Buick limousine is a fine thing but the Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman must be the ultimate expression of limousine before the stretching becomes grotesque. Nothing better has come along since.
The solid sides in the American hearses are the current fashion but there have been times in the past when glass-sided hearses were popular in the US.
That looks better- much less like a van.
Maybe subconsciously Americans don’t want to look on death nowadays?
Don’t know why, but these full-glass coaches were referred to as “Limousine Style” in the industry.
Limousine style hearses were also used as the basis for “Combination Style” professional cars.
Combonation style coaches were used for both ambulatory, procession duties, and the gruesome “First Call” duties.
PN – shouldn’t this be titled “Corpse-Side?” 🙂
Yes, it should. And now is.
^^^^^^^+1 (my best laugh of the day—thanks!)
For Roger 626: Thanks for that hearse picture. How gross! A bunch of people elegantly dressed looking over the hearse as if this were an ad for a new pleasure vehicle. I can just imagine a bunch of fancily dressed men and women stopping in to see the new hearse before going to dinner and a Broadway show. A family friend owned a funeral parlor on East 28th Street in Manhattan. One June as I was passing by, Uncle Eddie had me look at the new 1959 Cadillac. While not announced to the public until September, the funeral director’s magazine had it advertised, as a hearse of course.
That Buick dash and front end are identical to our old Buick LeSabre we sold in 1997.
Slaughter seems an unfortunate name for a mortician — but what do I know ? The big glassy Cadillac sure looks good. Sorry I’m too far away to take advantage of Paul’s group plan . . .
Saw this several years ago at my doctors office.
1966 Superior Cadillac Sovereign Combination
Now that’s dignity. Purely beautiful “limousine style” as they’re called.
Interesting color as well.
Thanks for the pic!
I saw a film, Cold Moon, last night, and noticed the silver Buick hearse profiled in this article. I assumed it would be the same one, but the close examination (with a generous help of pause button) showed a few significant differences.
Shame about the demise of the hearse in the film.
The tailgate is hinged on the left side and has vertical fold in the middle. The trim on the rear doors is done differently.
These strange “carved-panel” hearses were quite the style in the late 1930s.
If you get this deal on a pre 1974 model I have a check waiting to be written. Also looking for a couple of limos for my peeps. A couple Fleetwood 75s or better yet, Lehmann-Peterson stretched hardtop Fords would definitely work.
I wonder if Buick had a “beefed” commercial chassis, the way Cadillac carried forward with their heavier ’76 components into the downsizing era?
Passed one of these on 101 south, last week. The rear view looks like a road-going phone booth, at first sighting . . .