Classic DREAMCARS Mount Dora, Fla. (352) 385-1945




~COMBINATION HEARSE 'Floral Funeral Coach'~

Starting back in the late 18th Century, funeral flowers and sprays were traditionally transported in an Open Carriage and driven in front of the horse-drawn Hearse. By the 1900's, the first Automobile Hearses were equipped with special trays to display the flowers around the casket in the car. These racks were often chrome or wood and were built-into the vehicle on hinges. At large funerals, Touring Car Phaeton's carried the flower sprays with the top down. This body concept has carried through the Centuries straight through, till now. Sometimes, as many as TEN Flower Cars would proceed the procession. Especially, when Dignitaries, Famous Movie Stars or Gangster-types..... who died of 'lead poisoning'.

The 'special purpose' Flower Car began to reach huge favor by the 1930's. However, by the Fifties the much improved, long-low slung Flower Car 'Limousine' Style Cars had indeed 'arrived', reaching the pinnacle of success! By that time, the now purely ornamental rear boot, that resembled a folded-down and Stacked Convertible Top, became the 'Hallmark' of every single Flower Car built.... even true to this day. Back then, there weren't many Funeral Car Fleets that didn't contain at least ONE Flower Car. Some of the big city Funeral homes had multiple Flower Coaches. With the exception of Flexible Motor Coaches, all the big Coach Builders offered Coupe-Style Flower Cars as the "Crown Jewel" of their Funeral Car Fleets. Even the small, economy coach builders like Barnette, Acme, Meteor and National offered customers smart looking, Coupe-Stylized Flower Cars on Long Wheelbase Pontiac and Chevrolet Chassis.'

For many of us, as Auto Enthusiasts, the 1950's also marked the High Point of the Automobile as the American Icon of Cultural History. Who could ever forget the Flashy Fins, Styling and Flamboyance as America celebrated the End of War with cars that not only 'looked like' P-38 Aircraft but, were designed/rendered after actual Airplanes. Every manufacturer offered a 'new 'body-style each year. It was the Beginning of Good Times....a Generation of over excess!  It was a time of over-use of chrome, Big Dagmar Bumpers (aka: "Bumper Bombs"), Huge Fins, 3-Tone Paint Schemes, 4-Door Hardtops, Wide Whitewall Tires and Big Gaudy Convertibles.

Sales of 'new' cars soared with their increased popularity and even the Pro Car Builders found they had little choice but, to follow the lead. No matter how Conservative...they found themselves using wrap-around windshields, large fins, and gobs of chrome on every surface. Fueled by the increase in Post-War Sales the Packard (Henney) took a backseat, and were considered ultra-conservative, "a High Buttoned Shoes" Automobile which allowed Cadillac to shift into high gear. For 1950, Cadillac redesigned their entire Commercial Chassis and it's biggest customers (Superior, Meteor, A.J. Miller, Eureka and Hess & Eisenhardt- S&S ) fought to build the most attractive Ambulances, Hearse and Flower Cars. Packard Henney sales, still camped out in "Oversized Bathtub Land"~ withered to a fraction of what they normally produced, as the body styles they produced appeared, and were, 'dated' looking. They closed for good in 1954.

Back then, you could choose from 2 traditional Funeral Hearse styles; the Landau and Limousine Style (the model with abundant windows). Both were endowed with real Chrome, yards of Heavy Drapes and Mohair interiors. But, the Top of the Fleet was always considered the Flower Car. The 'Fifties', was indeed, the year the Flower Car reached it's all-time top popularity.

In Flower Cars: There are only two different basic Versions you could order. The "Western-Style" which had an open cavern behind the passenger cabin which flower baskets were carried on. That was fitted with a Canvas or Stainless Steel protected area. The Tonneau cover snapped, or buttoned into place, over or under the flowers. The far more popular (and more expensive) "Eastern Style" came equipped with a hydraulically adjustable steel deck. The floral sprays were artistically arranged across the deck, held in place by chrome rails for display, as the car moved to the graveside at the Cemetery. The Deluxe versions had a hydraulically operated flower deck that could be adjusted to accommodate a cot, or casket and, could also be lowered to protect the flowers in the wind. The 'boot', or faux convertible top, was hinged to swing-up and move out of the way. Some Funeral Homes used the Flower Car for both needs, but for the most part as an active duty hearse. Thus, they earned the name "Floral Funeral Coaches". This Coach is a very rare "Florentine Model" designed to carry a casket, with a flip-up Boot, and a wide rear door to accomodate casket entry. It is equipped with a full stainless coffin chamber and casket rollers. The rear side doors allow for the Church Truck, Chairs or Ministers Pulpit.

Today , due to the high cost to build, late model Flower Cars are only built in very limited numbers. It's only by popular demand, and the latest trend to return to "The Old Ways", that they have seen a resurgence of these great new tribute Coaches and Classic Hearses.

Now Offered at: $92,500

Hess and Eisenhardt

By 1952, not only was it the 50th Year 'Golden Anniversary' ( 1902-1952) for Cadillac but, S&S (Hess and Eisenhardt) were already claiming that their Coaches WERE "The Standard of The World". Their own showroom brochure bragged on the fact that "S&S had a reputation of goodness"....built on 76 years of continued service to professionals". It claimed "that men who placed an order for a new S&S exulted in the wisdom of their choice". That reputation for quality, both in product and business, made it possible for them to build a new, modern Plant in 1952.

Managed by two Father & Son teams, they carried the combined experience of a total of 154 years, thus their vehicles were claimed to be without parallel in the Industry. In fact, they were considered the ONLY choice by many prestigious Funeral Homes. At that time, Emil Hess was President, Charles Eisenhardt Sr., was Treasurer and the sons, Willard Hess, VP of Manufacturing and Charles Eisenhardt Jr. was VP of Sales.

Their factory Pro Car brochure, in 1952, touted the fact "S&S offered the only special oversize ambulance (Superline Kessington) designed and built for 1st Aid Service, not a compromised Hearse design". That same brochure featured two grown men sitting, and actually hanging, on one door, boasting of it's rigidity, and another photo with 3 men standing on the roof. All coaches were built on the 157" wheelbase Commercial Cadillac Chassis which had a length of 247" (about 22' with the Dagmar's), 70 1/2" high and 81" wide. S&S bragged on "Slipstream Styling" that created a distinctive silhouette. All coaches also featured "Formalized Interiors", which was a new idea in styling, distinguished by Rich (in a word more 'Modern') combinations of color and materials-highlighted by luxurious Satin Chrome appointments.  Each of the early S&S built cars carried hash marks on the top, or front fenders which were called "Date Marks" by S&S. The also carried a beautifully sculptured chrome hood triangle which became their 'hallmark' and was retained on this model, as well, as not only the 'signature' of S&S  but, that of a True Craftsman.

Cadillac for 1952 was a special year as they celebrated their 50th Anniversary (1902-1952). They had survived several World Wars, the Stock Market Crash, the Great Depression and multiple Exterior & Mechanical 'upgrades'. They were indeed considered by everyone The Standard of The World in Automobiles. By 1952, Cadillac had produced 13 million cars. General Motors celebrated this feat by making this model the Most Powerful American Made Automobile for 1952. It carried a 331 c.i. V8 / 190 hp (an increase of 30hp) in most Cadillac Models (it is written that the Commercial Chassis featured an additional increase in horsepower but, we are still verifying that). Being the 'Golden Anniversary Edition', all 1952 Cadillacs also carried Special Gold Castings on all the deck emblems and ornamental script nameplates. It was delivered new with Dual Exhaust and practically every device as Standard Equipment seen as 'optional' on all the other Marque's. Only a very few 'accessory options' were available: Full Wheel Discs, Windshield Washer, Oil Filter (yes, true), Vanity Mirror, License Frames, Outside Mirror, Wide Whitewall Tires, VentShades, Foglights, EZ Eye Tinted Glass, 'Autronic' Headlight Dimmer, Automatic Window Regulators, and even Cadillac Blue Coral Wax. You could choose from 12 'new' Solid Colors and two 2-Tone Schemes. This coach retains it's original mileage of 48,800 mi. (an incredible 787 miles per year), Wide Whitewall Tires, 2-Tone Burgundy & Grey Interior, Elevated Stainless Steel Deck option, Nameplate fastener's and Radio 'Delete' Plate. Perhaps now, you can see why the "Cadillac " nomenclature was not only a household name in America but, the Most Sought After Car in the World.

Today, this Cadillac Coach draws as much attention as a Rolls Royce, or Ferrari, anywhere it is parked. Each person, regardless of age remarks how "they remember when..." or, ".....that's when they made REAL CARS". One tap on the fender proves the claim.

This Coach garnishes Reverence and Respect wherever it is parked.

The 1952 Cadillac S&S  'Florentine' Flower Car/ Hearse, the true Mark of Excellence by a Coachbuilder.

This custom, factory, hand built Coach can be seen in our 'Museum Collection' at the Mt. Dora Museum of Speed