Hearse Exhibit Celebrates “The Last Rides” Sacramento, Ca


Sacramento, CA -- Hearses: The Last Rides, runs through December 11, 2009 at California Automobile Museum. It highlights vehicles designed to create an air of dignity and style for that last road trip that most of us will take.

In an exhibit that shows how they have evolved from the days of horse and carriage to luxury automobiles, you learn that coffins were the first form of funeral transportation to the cemetery. Elaborately decorated with scrollwork and other art they fancy boxes were delivered on horse-drawn wagons to the crematorium or grave site. Carriages became more elaborate and eventually evolved into a hearse.


The great exhibit comes from the half-dozen vehicles of Buck Kamphausen, an avid car collector and owner of Skyview Memorial Lawn in Vallejo.

The display includes: An 1886 horse-drawn carriage that was originally designed to hold a “toe pincher” casket, which is narrower at the bottom than at the top and a common prop in movies. Its high wheeler design and stark, simple lines reflect early America’s pragmatic and mournful attitude toward funerals.

1935 Argentine hearse which is a dramatic opposite in style, with an ornate bed topped by a carved dome that invokes images of a royal coach fit for a king. With torch-bearing colonnades, it could be a Las Vegas stage on
wheels, reflecting festive South American funeral traditions.

1916 REO with heavy wooden spoke wheels and long wheelbase chassis to include an ornately carved wooden bed.  )Originally built in 1886 as a horse-drawn hearse before it was mounted on the mechanical chassis.

1931 Model A pick-up truck that has been converted into a hearse for children, with soft, muted colors instead of the traditional black.


1957 Cadillac flower car. Flower cars, which look like a cross between a luxury automobile and a long-bed pick-up, became fashionable in the ‘30s to accompany hearses to a burial site with flowers in full view as the cortege drove through town. This model was used for nearly 50 years at a funeral home in Ontario, Canada before being added to Kamphausen’s collection a few years ago.

Fashionable hearses don't seem to go out of style, as many people still choose a historic Packard over a new luxury model at Kamphausen’s funeral home in Vallejo.


Location: 2200 Front Street, between Broadway and Old Sacramento. The Museum is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, taking the last admission at 5 pm. Cost: $8 Adult; $7 Senior; $4 Student/ ID; Free Under 5. Call (916) 442-6802. CalAutoMuseum.org org


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