Hearses - traditional, somber, restrained, dignified - weren't exempt from the styling excesses of the late 1950s. Swooping tail fins and bullet taillights added some style to the final ride for many in the waning year of the decade and into the early 1960s.
Cadillac sold 2,814 professional cars in 1959, among them this coach built by Superior, and sold to Bennett & Pincombe Funeral Home in London, Ontario, Canada. When new, the cast-iron V-8 produced 310 brake horsepower. It had dual exhaust and weighed more than 5,000 pounds - before modifications. Superior offered four models ranging in price from $10,781 to $12,427.
Its dramatic lines, with tail fins rising 42 inches from the ground - more than any Cadillac before or since - and a length or more than 20 feet, combine to make this hearse unforgettable. You may have seen a Superior Crown Royale Landaulet in the 1971 movie Harold and Maude, or a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor in Ghostbusters.
In the mid-1960s, the hearse began a journey that took it from Canada to the west coast of the United States. Eventually, the 389 cubic-inch, four-speed Hydramatic car made its way to an auction and then to the hands of current owner. The hearse received extensive restoration and was returned to its professional service for Plumb-Smith Funeral Home. It was recognized with a First Place award at the 2009 meeting of the Professional Car Society.