Hearses

 
My 1959 Miller-Meteor Cadillac hearse in the Santa Barbara Graveyard in Montecito.

My 1959 Miller-Meteor Cadillac hearse in the Santa Barbara Graveyard in Montecito.

There are some things in life that hover on the edge of attainability.

For me, while driving a 1968 Superior Cadillac hearse for a decade of the last century, the shimmering dream car was always the 1959 hearse.
And then, thanks to all the lovely people who came to get tattooed by me, I owned one. For a decade it was my daily driver. And even now, years later, random strangers ask me "You still got that hurst?" Uh, no.

I am happy to announce that this photo I took of it in front of the Sahlberg pyramid in the Santa Barbara Cemetary was featured in the 2003 Hearse Calendar from Haunting Productions as the October image. I was the runner-up second place winner behind the inevitable BEST, the stupendous Carthedral.

Carthedral, the best art car hearse ever

Carthedral, the best art car hearse ever

Hey, I wouldn't complain, even if I got to be Dead Last!

I bought the 1959 and my other hearses also from Paul Nix, the Hearse Queen

Paul Nix RIP

Paul Nix RIP

an eccentric gay embalmer who had a sideline renting hearses to the film industry. I actually had 3 over the years, I bought a 1968, a 1972, and then finally got the Holy Grail of hearses, the 1959.

He sourced several for Terminator 3, Rise of the Machines; 1981, 1986 and 1989 models.

Terminator 3 1981 Cadillac Brougham  now at the Miami Auto Museum with 150+ bullet holes

Terminator 3 1981 Cadillac Brougham  now at the Miami Auto Museum with 150+ bullet holes

And in 1993 he even invited me to have a bit part in Phantasm III when the whole Los Angeles Hearse Society turned out in their coaches to participate in the filming.

He provided the lime green 1971 S&S Cadillac that was driven by the daughter in Six Feet Under, and was hired for the filming of the show to check all the embalming scenes for veracity.

Claire Fisher’s 1971 Cadillac Funeral Coach S&S Victoria in Six Feet Under

Claire Fisher’s 1971 Cadillac Funeral Coach S&S Victoria in Six Feet Under

My marvelous vehicle was a Cadillac, transformed into a hearse by the Miller-Meteor company, and came with a 3-way platform so it had suicide doors. I took the 3-way out and gave it back to Nix, and had a carpeted platform built in the back for carrying Irish Wolfhounds and camping.

My splendid '59

My splendid '59

My particular car was owned by a funeral home in Oklahoma that bought it new in 1959 and had it in service until 1962. By then the 50's were over, and this most extreme example of the fin had begun to look like an extravagant dinosaur.
So this coach was retired after 20,000 miles and 3 years of service, and mothballed. Then the owners apparently decided to clean out the garage and sold it to someone who brought it to California. It lived an exciting year being rented out for movies in Hollywood, and then I convinced Nix to sell it to me.
So I got it with 23,000 original miles on a 41 year old car, and then proceed to replace all the rubber bits, the seals, hoses, etc. so that I intended to drive it for the indefinite future.
It is the ultimate car to ferry Irish Wolfhounds in, and even simple events become Hearse Excursions!

The '59 being exhibited at the Rat Fink Car Show next to a pink 1959 convertible Cadillac

The '59 being exhibited at the Rat Fink Car Show next to a pink 1959 convertible Cadillac

Nix and I often went to car shows, the Hearse Society would show up and we'd have our own special row. The best display ever was a guy who had a mannequin of a roller skater drive-in waitress that he would place face down on the grass with a display of spilled food next to her and then carefully drive a front wheel of his hearse up onto her. Sorry no photo exists.

On October 7th, 2000 Knott's Scary Farm held a hearse procession to break the Guinness World Book record for the most hearses in one place.

Every year for the month of October the traditional Knott's Berry Farm western theme park takes on a ghost town aura at night, with foggers spraying mist and hundreds of temporary employees hired to dress as ghouls and scare the bejeezus out of the dating teens who throng there to grope each other in the dark.

We assembled nearby in daylight, and then did a stately slow and marvelous processional route over to the park and into special parking, after which we were treated to a free meal and a pass into the horrors of the park after dark.
ALL the 84 vehicles present were miraculously archived by an LA Insider photo journalist who took these of my vehicle:

We head off for the Knotts hearse procession and into the Guinness World Book of Records.

We head off for the Knotts hearse procession and into the Guinness World Book of Records.

But no one in the automotive world can let a record rest, so in 2005 once again the Guinness World record for longest hearse procession was reset by a total of 88 hearses that started at the Peterson Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles and proceeded to drive around for miles. Nix rode shotgun for me !!!  Inexplicably the lead car was Elvira in a red Cadillac convertible, big hair and all. Then a few cars back we came in my 1959, with my Irish Wolfhound Gus Brothers, Angus and Fergus, newly arrived from Ireland, peeking out the windows looking like animatronic puppets.

Peterson Automotive Museum procession

Peterson Automotive Museum procession

And always in the world of collectible automobiles, there are The Collectors.

The Ecto-1

The Ecto-1

For the whole time I owned it people would call asking to buy it, with the intention of turning it into the Ecto-1, the ambulance version that starred in the 1984 classic film Ghostbusters. But I liked it too much to sell it.

And then my life changed. I bought a mule. And that necessitated having a tow vehicle and a trailer, and there was only so much room in my driveway. And out of the blue I got a call from a Sikh hotel owner in Texas who had seen the photo in the graveyard on the internet and fell in love. A price was named and accepted, and he flew out from Texas to experience it and pay me and register it to himself, and then arranged to have a transporter pick it up and ship it to Oregon for a full rebuild, which it fully deserved. As far as I know it is now turning heads in Texas.

And now Mr Mule and I travel in this rig.

And now Mr Mule and I travel in this rig.