Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Last Ride





When we all take the big sleep, chances are we'll get to ride in a hearse. These large professional cars have a sole purpose: to look good while carrying the deceased to their final resting place. Once these coach-built beauties rack up a few decades of service, they usually wind up being used as haunted house decorations,  or as transportation for eccentric bachelors and hair metal bands. My Grandfather used to clean an early 40's Packard hearse as teenager working part-time at a Peoria funeral home. He told us he thought the car was a behemoth as he looked out over the long hood. As a car enthusiast, I've always admired the skill that goes into building these machines, but never really dived into the topic too much since they're usually seen on days when you have...ahem...other things on your mind. But now that its closer to All Hallow's Eve, let's look at the hearse.   

Hearses over the years have been gaudy, ornate, and even downright scarey. For starters, let's take this late 30's Packard from south of the border...


Carved panels on the side and large coach lamps add a touch of the old world, but in a creepy, mechanized, new-world kinda way. Its like whoever built it wanted to remind passers-by that a lifeless corpse was inside and its spirit would be chatting with Saint Peter very soon. In the meantime, enjoy some scarey wood carvings that someone drew from one of their nightmares and we painted with black lacquer!




Or there's this 1920's Lincoln hearse that looks similar to the horse-drawn hearses of just a few years prior to its creation. Similar carvings on the side appear to mimic curtains, large pillars, and other style elements that make your hair stand straight up. At least this hearse is a brighter color than black, and its wearing a set of whitewall tires. That's kind of appealing, even if they were covered in a swamp-like muck before the photographer squeezed the shutter closed. Great photo op, dude.






Have you been creeped out yet? No? Well enjoy this creation from a land far away and a time long ago. I can't even begin to describe what I think of this, other than to say its going to keep me awake tonight. Enjoy the whispy ivory deathmobile that I can't identify. 






If you happened to croak in the 1940's or 50's,  you got to ride in one of the really gorgeous hearses of the time from Superior, Meteor, Henney or Flxible (and no that's not a spelling error!). The ones with the swoopy lines and out-of-this-world wheelbases that showed you were either a king on this earth, or a Corleone who got shot up at a toll booth. How sleek is this '51 Packard, though? Wouldn't you mind a last ride in something like this beauty?


 



The sad truth is, formal cars like this were built for a single purpose. Once they're a little long in the tooth, they usually are sold for a small amount of dough. Then they become band wagons for rock and roll groups like this poor '51 Cadillac did. Why? I think we all know why.


In all honesty, if you're looking for pre-owned transportation at a reasonable cost, a hearse may be a good value for the money. Often times you can pick up a used 10 year old model with under 100,000 miles on it for about $3,000. And that's with leather, dual A/C units, and enough room to haul the kid's baseball team to the Dairy Queen...or the morgue else if things go really south.

Here are a Few Pros and Cons to Consider Before Purchasing a Hearse. 

Pro: Hearses have low miles since they were usually driven just around town.  

Con: They were driven around town with dead people in the back.


Pro: Hearses are generally taken care of and maintained meticulously by their previous owners. 

Con: They also have been sat in by people who use formaldehyde on a daily basis, which you can probably smell inside the car and out. Its probably in the vents, the upoulstry, and the carpet. Oh, and its a carcinogen.

Pro: Hearses and other professional cars are often built on full-sized, RWD, full-chassis cars with big V-8 engines and plenty of comfort and convenience options. 

Con: Try to parallel park a 20 foot station wagon with a 5 foot blind spot and get back to me.



Now that you've got some information and few pictures to haunt you while you sleep, I think that pretty much wraps up this post. Hope you enjoyed it enough to read this far. So what about you folks out there in la-la-land? What would you want your last ride to be in?




And please don't be one of those creepers that wants to be buried in your car, either. That ain't right.

Rest / rust in peace. 

-D

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Not So Fast-backs. 



Nothing looks cleaner than a swept roofline. I came across a rusty '49 Chevy Fleetline for sale on Craigslist tonight and it just caught my eye and made me wonder why they were so short-lived. I've always liked the 40's and 50's "sedanette" body style, especially on the GM cars of that era. The Buicks and Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles really captured that swept look that made them appear to be moving through the wind even while standing still. The designers nailed it, but the body style was only popular for a brief 10 year period.I wonder why they weren't more popular. It seems cars just started 'rediscovering' aerodynamics 20 years ago or so.


Cue the airplane sound effects and screeching tires. 

These cars appear as colorful and animated as any Disney cartoon of that time period. Who couldn't imagine a Buick Super like the one above moving around a mountain and watching the black animated "speed lines" ripple off its silhouette. Maybe its just me...

If you need anything, I'll be staring at some classifieds online using the search keywords "Fleetline", "1949 Buick Roadmaster Sedanette" and "Nash Airflyte". There's some swoopy old pieces of metal out there that need to be saved.
  -D