The funeral cars of today, while continuously updated with the latest features, have not significantly changed in design in the past half century. However, this was not always the case. Funeral car designs changed frequently in the early days of automobile hearses. This week we have been looking at the hearse designs of yesteryear, beginning with the horse drawn funeral cars of the 1700s and transitioning into the designs of the 1920s. Today we will take a peek at the funeral car industry of the 1930s and beyond.
Carved Panel Hearses
The elaborately carved wooden hearses of the 1700s and 1800s had largely given way to assembled all-metal designs by the 1920s. However, a new problem arose. It became difficult to distinguish the hearse from other funeral cars in a procession. In 1929, the carved panel hearse was reintroduced on a wide scale.
Many panel hearses of the 1930s were hand carved, but stamped metal panels were also popular. However, the trend did not last long, as funeral directors began to understand the increased labor involved in detailing elaborate carvings after the car was washed. In 1938, the first landau, or Victoria-style hearse, was introduced.
Landau hearses were the predecessors of today’s traditional hearse design. They have co-existed peacefully with limousine style hearses for the past 70 years. The roof of a landau hearse is crafted from heavily padded vinyl or leather. These hearses also feature a blind quarter panel decorated with S-shaped iron works that resemble those once used to lower the roofs of 19th century horse drawn Victorias.
Combination hearses, used as ambulances as well as funeral cars, remained popular until the 1970s. Design features such as folding attendant seats and sirens were added to various models at various times.
Funeral Cars Today
Over the years, various design elements have been added or changed. A commonly changed feature is the curtains. Airliner drapes became popular in the 1950s, while formal drapes are often used today.
If you would like to learn more about the funeral cars of today, we invite you to visit our convenient national dealership. We will be happy to discuss your options with you.
Filed Under: Funeral Cars