Classic hearse back from dead

2013-03-27 07:26

A classic 1939 former-film star hearse has been restored to cart the dead and steal the limelight at the 2013 Rand Show on March 28.

Imported to South Africa by Pretoria-based Rogers funeral company in its “previous life”, the car is also believed to have movie star status. It appeared in the film 'Cry the Beloved Country' with Richard Harris and James Earl Jones, based on the novel by Alan Paton.


Even though it’s a vintage item owned by Collinge and Company of Randburg, Johannesburg, the car still has a day job at the funeral company.

Owner Mike Collinge said: “A couple of years ago we wanted to get a vehicle that set us apart from other funeral directors.”

“We considered horse-drawn hearses, as they use in the US in some parts, but horses need food and care, so we ruled that out. Then we discovered this partly-restored Packard that some Formula Ford racer was building to use to tow his race car.

“We put it back to original as far as the body was concerned. But for the mechanicals, we realised that we needed something modern, as the car was not going to be a show-piece but a working hearse. We opted for a Chevy 350 V8 engine with front and rear Jaguar suspension to make for a classic hot rodder solution,” said Collinge.

Thanks to the upgrade, the old Packard gets a modern twist with increased pulling power and modern brakes.

The coffin area’s woodwork shows off superb carpentry. The bodywork is completely original, right down to the Packard wheels and hubcaps.


Collinge said: “We have been surprised that we have done funerals with this vehicle associated with young people, not just older people who would have remembered it in its prime.

“It has a timeless appeal.”

The Packard will be one of over 150 classic cars of all sorts and sizes at the show.

The 2013 Rand Show starts Thursday, March 28 to Monday April 1, 2013 at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Rand Show Road, Nasrec. Gates open daily at 9am closes at 7pm.

Tickets are available at the gate or through Computicket. R100 (adults), R50 (for pensioners over 65), R50 teens aged 13-16, R20 for kids aged six to 12, and free for children under six.

  • Regte Boer - 2013-03-27 08:14

    No matter who you are your last ride will be in a black limosine...

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