2009 CADILLAC DTS-L FLOWER CAR BY ACCUBILT/SPECIALTY
Once you decide you have to have one of these, it can become a career "Mission". It took several years and several lost opportunities- for us- to find one in mint condition, and then-not 'sold'. Since they are now built in such limited numbers, you are fishing in a shallow pond. Accubilt and Specialty Motor Co. only built 3 DTS-L Models that year and this is indeed LIMITED, not just because of it's excessive, original cost but, it's a Traditional Flower Car not a combo-hearse. This Coach was built on the DTS-L (W-30) Cadillac 6" stretch chassis by Accubilt*. Cadillac Motor Cars delivered 17,330 DTS Models that year but, it turns out only a handful of 'DTS-L' versions. Accubilt is one of a handful of Coach Builders Certified a "Master Coachbuilder by General Motors". This one has the Optional: removable "Flower Cascade' Tray (not shown) LED Strobe Lights, Chrome Wheels and removable Flag Holders...all part of it's original build. Its a 'Traditional' Flower Car not one of the 4 "W-29" Chassis with the capability of carrying BOTH the Casket and Flowers called the "Corteige Formal" Flower Car/Hearse built by Superior). Obviously, totally custom, this Coach was very expensive 'new' and carries a proven mileage/ title of 21,000 with a 'clean' accident/incident-free owner history and all Books. Finished in Sable Black with Full Black Leather Bucket Seats, it was built loaded with Power Steering, Power Disc Brakes, Power Seats L/R, Power Windows, Bumper Impact Alert and Power Mirrors. It carries the 4.6 32V DOHC NorthStar 'HO' Engine with 292hp, and is married to the 4-Speed Auto. with O.D. Mileage is 24 Hiway/15 City. ABS Brakes, Side & Front Airbags, , Alarm, Keyless Entry, Cruise Control, AM/FM with Steering Wheel Controls, Factory Air Conditioning & AC Seats, P.D.Locks, Tilt Wheel, OnStar, Traction Control, HID Headlamps w/ Foglamps, Premium Sound, and it weighs in under 4,000 lbs. The Stainless Steel deck dismisses a boatload of weight so, the is Coach is very quick.
The traditional Color Scheme boasts it's Conservative past & perfectly befits it's use.
The comment we hear most from folks not in the trade is.. "I've never seen one in my life" or, "Is Cadillac offering the El Camino now"?
For those that aren't familiar, these are all about "Flowers"....the indisputable part of each Funeral Commemoration. To this very day, flowers still accompany the deceased to their final resting place, be it Cremation, Mausoleum or Grave site. Flowers have been part and parcel of any funeral dating back to the 18th Century and were usually seen not only at the Service but, afterwards in a Horse Drawn Carriage leading the Carved Glass-Sided Funeral Coach, or at least, seen inside the Hearse. Weather permitting, you would often see the 'tops down' on the carriages when flowers were transported. That led to the 'folded 'boot' or top design you see here. This imitation convertible boot styling was the Hallmark of every Flower Car built in America .... even, today.
Some Funeral Coaches, seen well into the 1920's, had hinged flower tray's morphed into the design, 'built-in' on the sides that hovered over the casket, with just enough room to slide the coffin or casket in the back. By the 1940's, flowers became even more visible as coaches were built in the 'limousine style' with glass windows down the entire side. Here again, you would see the arched trays protruding inside the high top Hearses. During Prohibition Times, flower cars were used to lead the funeral processions in all the largest cities. Tradition carried on and they were also used for any large funeral, be it movie star, dignitary, politician, or well-do-do community leader. In the 1930's, leading Service Trade Journals of the day, would publish the fact the deceased, (quote) "died suddenly of lead poisoning, professional rivals furnished the lead".
With the popularity of the first 'special-purpose' flower car conversions, one by one, many funeral homes across this great Nation acquired one for use. So, they were then, often seen from the West Coast to the East Coast, especially in big cities like Chicago, Detroit, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Hollywood (L.A.). It was Eureka Coach of Rock Falls, IL. that introduced the very first, production, factory-built L.W.B. Flower Car on a LaSalle Chassis. Within a few years every major Coach Builder offered a Flower Car Model. The 1st Gen models offered an open-well behind the driver's cabin in which the flower baskets were placed. A Canvas Cover was offered, as well, to place over the open well between Funeral Services. By 1938, it was Henney Motor Co. of Freeport, IL. that would offer a revolutionary, new type of Flower car with an adjustable Stainless-Steel Flower Deck designed to shed water. Baskets and Flower Arrangements would be artistically arranged in a stair-step fashion on a hinged panel with a roomy compartment, under the deck, that could carry all the necessary Funerary equipment: Fold-able chairs, a small podium, church truck etc. That way some served double-duty as a Service Car was well. Several of these early Flower Cars even had a collapsible roof or convertible top. By the 1940's, any Funeral Home worth it's salt, had a Flower Car in the Fleet and every Coach builder, whether it be Eureka, S&S, Meteor, A.J. Miller, Henney or Flexible all featured a "Flower Car" in the Catalog. Superior, normally the Industry Leader , belatedly added one in 1949. The vast majority ended up being on Cadillac chassis and by 1950, they had reached their pinnacle. It's worthy to note: in order to please budget minded clients, some of the Coach Houses even added 'moderatley priced' versions on a Pontiac chassis.
Two distinct styles have been offered, the 'Eastern Style' which had a Stainless Deck with a metal lined Casket Chamber below, while the 'Western Style' (aka: 'Chicago Style') had an open Flower Well (sometimes with a Canvas Cover). The Flower Cars were always Limited Build, and remained the most expensive models in each Coach line-up, through the 1960's and into the 1970's. But, due to the heavenly costs and limited-use, Flower Cars started to wilt in production. Miller-Meteor built their last Flower car in 1970. Hess and Eisenhardt (S&S) built their last in 1971 and industry leader Superior, their last in 1976. Since then, several smaller Coach Builders like McClain Sales of Anderson, Indiana, Metropolitan (Div. of Specialty Sales) of New York and Wolfington Body of Exton, PA have all built 100's of practical, Standard or Limo Size wheelbase Cadillac & Lincoln Flower Car Conversions. Today, we have seen Eagle, Accubilt and Specialty continue the tradition. They are only made in ultra-low numbers. $39,500
SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA.COM, CARMAX.COM, KBB.COM, ACCUBILT PERSONEL, CADILLAC MOTOR CARS, AND ORIG. SALES LITERATURE.