Well, that’s what the guys who make it claim.
I’m not going to show you “the most expensive hearse in the world” right away because, frankly, it’s a let-down. The vehicle you imagine in your mind is a far more exciting and out-of-this-world ultra-hearse than the real thing.
The so-called “most expensive hearse in the world” was unveiled last weekend at the Tanexpo international funeral home show in Bologna, Italia.
Designed and custom built by Biemme SpecialCars SRL of Parma (yes, the Italian company has a sort-of-English name), the B12 Phantom hearse is based on the chassis and powertrain of a Rolls-Royce Phantom four-door extended-wheelbase limousine.
That’s one of the Rollers you see Queen Elizabeth puttering around in. But of course the Queen wouldn’t be seen dead in a B12 Phantom hearse: When she finally goes, she’ll get the black-silk-draped royal gun carriage drawn by six black horses (or maybe eight for the Queen since Diana got six) with black ostrich-feather pom-poms on their heads.
(As a completely off-track aside, the funereal gun carriage for the Queen’s father, George VI, was drawn by 96 Royal Navy sailors. But then George always considered himself first and foremost a naval officer; Elizabeth’s more the horsey type.)
Back to the Rolls-Royce B12 Phantom hearse that’s good enough for us commoners:
It’s powered by the Phantom’s standard (if you can call anything about a RR Phantom “standard”) 6.75-litre V12 engine with self-levelling air suspension. It’s got a six-speed automatic transmission with gear lever on the steering column, according to Biemme.
And that’s about where the commonality between the hearse and a Phantom limo ends (apart from the fact that the hearse keeps the limo’s four doors — including the back rear-opening “suicide doors”).
The B12 Phantom hearse is 701 cm (23 feet) long, almost a metre longer than the extended-wheelbase Rolls-Royce Phantom limousine. And the entire body of the hearse is made of hand-crafted aluminum with more than 600 assembled parts.
So now, after all this buildup, I’m going to show you pictures of “the world’s most expensive hearse.”
See, it’s not really such a big deal, is it?
Especially when you consider the price — “more than half a million Euros,” according to the company. That’s about $700,000 in Canadian (or American) money.
Let’s take a look inside and see what you get for $700,000.
Not much really.
The coffin compartment measures 234x92x90 cm — that’s about 7.6 feet long, three feet high and three feet wide. Yao Ming would just fit in — but not his coffin. And the King of Tonga (I’m talking about old Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, of course) would barely squeeze through the back door.
And those blue lights you see inside? LEDs, to give the whole experience an ethereal, heavenly glow. Baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue.
So, as I said, not much for $700,000 when you consider this is your last ride — ever.
You might get a splashier — and more cost-efficient — sendoff in one of these Harley-Davidson motorcycle hearses.
The top one is designed by German Joerg Grossman and sells for 60,000 Euros (about $80,000 Canadian). Grossman says he currently has orders for 10. The bottom one, costing about $100,000, was custom-designed for a funeral home on Long Island, New York.
But if I have to make the last ride in a hearse, I’d prefer this one.
I know it’s a little morbid, but this is the Cadillac hearse that carried President John F. Kennedy’s body to Air Force One at Love Field from Parkland Memorial Hospital after he was assassinated in Dallas in 1963 (by LBJ, the CIA, the Mafia and the military-industrial complex, if memory serves).
It was sold at auction in January for $176,000 to Stephen Tebo, a Colorado real estate developer, after being in the private collection of a Texas funeral director for four decades.
Tebo’s one of these car nuts whose collection includes vehicles like a 1965 Rolls-Royce custom built for John Lennon and a mock-up taxi from the Seinfeld TV show.
And, come to think of it, the Kennedy Cadillac could have been “the most expensive hearse in the world.”
Tebo told the Associated Press he wasn’t even planning to bid on it when the hearse went on the auction block in Dallas on Jan. 21: He expected the final bid would be somewhere between $500,000 and $1,000,000 — potentially more than Biemme’s $700,000 B12 Phantom hearse, in other words. But when the bids stayed (relatively) low, he jumped in and got himself a piece of macabre history.
Personally, I’d rather my dearly beloved spent the money on a good farewell party. When I’m dead and gone, you can just put the left-behind packaging in a fast-burn pressboard box and cart me off to the crematorium in a minivan (with a modicum of respect, of course).
That, to me, would be much better value for the money.
Riposa in pace.