Funeral Cars - Making Your Way To The Funeral
The vehicle used to transport the casket from the location of services to the cemetery is called the funeral car, which in most situations is a hearse as referred to as the funeral coach.
In history, the casket or tomb would have elaborate framework attached over it to create a memorial for verses to be attached. The casket was then placed on a horse drawn carriage. In modern times, the elaborate detailing of the funeral car is decaled on the side of the hearse with a stretched out “S” on each side.
In 1909, the transition to silent motorized hearses became used instead of the horse drawn carriages. Over time, the size of the hearses increased with the body still carried in the back of the vehicle. In some situations, the caskets were transported with trolley cars, subway cars, or ambulances. The larger vehicles were used to help transport the mourners to the cemetery.
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In North America and Europe, the more luxurious models of vehicles are used for transport such as Lincolns, Cadillac’s, Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Ford, Volvo, Rolls-Royce, and Jaguar.
Cadillac introduced a commercial chassis that was a longer wheelbase Fleetwood limousine that was strengthens to carry the weight of the casket. It was lower than the common consumer vehicle for loading and unloading of the casket. The Cadillac was specifically designed for funeral purposes.
Ford created the Lincoln Town Car specially designed for the transportation and funeral services. The cars had heavy-duty suspensions, tires, and brakes. In addition to the Town Car, the Ford Expedition became a model used for funeral vehicles. The heavier designed vehicles were modified to allow for easier loading and unloading of the casket as well as personal comfort for the mourners who were transported to the gravesite.
The average cost for a new hearse in the United States as of 2004 range $40,000 to $65,000 with all the customizations varying on the funeral home’s desires and demands.
In the United Kingdom, horse drawn hearses are still currently used. There are two types of body styles for the hearses. The older style limousine has narrow pillars with mostly glass enclosures. This is the most popular style frequently used and observed. The landau style has heavily padded roofs with rear quarters that are covered in the same fashion and all decorated with the traditional “S” in metal on the sides. The windows are typically curtained in the United States while in the United Kingdom the windows are left opened for observation.
In 1979, Federal regulations changed the manner of the funeral vehicles by restricting the usage of car-based ambulances for hearses. The combination coaches that once were used as ambulances were no longer allowed to transport the caskets due to the new regulations.
In Japan, the Buddhist style hearse has two styles. The “foreign”, which is comparable to the American hearse. The “Japanese” style that closely resembles an ornate Buddhist temple with modifications that extend the rear of the vehicle, the rear roof is removed from the window areas and all interior is removed. The Buddhist style hearse is constructed of wood where the casket is placed and is wider than the base of the hearse. The typical model of vehicle used is Nissan and Toyota.
The ornaments differ by the regions. Nagoya decorations cover the upper and lower half of the body of the vehicle. Kansai style decorations are more modest and unpainted. Kanazawa style has a red body compared to the traditional black of the other styles and have gilded ornaments as decorations. Tokyo style hearse is mainly found in Japan. They feature painted or gilded ornaments on the upper half of the body.