Call it the unofficial vehicle of Halloween. The hearse, or “funeral coach” as those in the industry like to refer to it, is not the kind of car most enthusiasts are anxious to add to their collection. Looking back through history, however, we found a few examples that may change your mind.
Neil Young’s 1948 Buick Roadmaster
Neil Young doesn’t need any introduction. But not everyone knows he’s a car guy. In his book, Waging Heavy Peace, Young mentions the story behind his most unusual first car back in the early 1960s. Young and his band mates, The Squires, used the hearse to ferry equipment when playing gigs around Winnipeg. He affectionately named the car “Mort” and even wrote a song about it, Long May You Run, the title track of the 1976 Stills-Young Band album by the same name.
Claire Fisher’s 1971 Cadillac Funeral Coach S&S Victoria
For five seasons, HBO’s Six Feet Under followed the compellingly dysfunctional lives of the Fisher family and their struggles to maintain a family-owned funeral home in Los Angeles. The youngest daughter in the clan, Claire Fisher (Lauren Ambrose), played the role of the high school outcast, a brooding artist who definitely embraced her creepy “daughter of a funeral director” reputation by using this lime-green 1971 Cadillac Funeral Coach as her daily driver.
Ghostbusters’ 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor
Old hearses do have their enthusiasts. Among their ranks, the 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor has a holy-grail-like status for its classic styling and appearance in Hollywood films, most notably the ambulance version dubbed Ecto-1 in the 1984 classic, Ghostbusters.
Harold’s 1971 Jaguar XK-E 4.2 Series II
In the 1971 cult classic, Harold and Maude, Harold (Bud Cort) drives two hearses: a 1959 Cadillac Superior 3-way and a custom model he makes from a 1971 Jaguar XK-E 4.2 Series I. While the Cadillac hearse survived filming and was eventually purchased and preserved by a collector in Northern California, the Jaguar was destroyed as part of the movie’s storyline.
The King’s 1977 Miller-Meteor Landau
One of the greatest, if not macabre, pieces of Elvis memorabilia lost to fans was the gleaming white hearse that carried “The King” to his final resting place after a private service at Graceland in 1977. The website elviscadillacs.com chronicled the saga of what happened to this one — one the most famous hearses in the world. Long story short: The vehicle remained in limited service until 1984 when the funeral home director in Georgia who owned the car loaned it out to a business associate in Miami. The car’s engine caught fire on the highway during the drive south and the vehicle was a total loss.
JFK’s 1964 Cadillac Miller-Meteor
Another one of the most famous and historically significant funeral coaches in the world — the “cotillion white” Cadillac that carried the body of John F. Kennedy —sold at action in 2012 for $176,000. Stephen Tebo, a real estate developer from Boulder, Colorado, reportedly bought the car to add to his private collection of over 400 vehicles, which you can see by clicking here.
Funeral coaches definitely have their fans. If you have pictures or stories about one in your collection — or maybe, like Neil Young, once owned a hearse as your daily driver — take a second to comment below or over at the HVA’s Facebook page.