Five Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Hearses

You’ve probably seen several hearses over the course of your lifetime. Most of them have probably been black, but you may have seen white ones and maybe even some gray ones. Here are some facts about hearses, the symbolism of the color and other things you may not have known about these funeral cars before.

• Hearses in western culture are generally black because that is the color that symbolizes mourning. Some funeral homes use white hearses to symbolize a “new life,” but white and gray hearses are rare.

• The term “hearse” has been used since the 1600s and dates back to the 1300s.  It originally described a framework for candles which hung over the coffin.  It also has roots in the French word ‘herse’ (formerly ‘herce’) which described a large flat rake used for breaking up soil.  The word ‘hearse’ began to be used in the 1640s as a designation for funeral transportation.  Experts believe the word was used because transports resembled the rakes used in that they were flat and simple in construction as well as being similar in design as the traditional candle framework already in use for funerals.

• Hearses in other cultures tend to be different colors. In eastern cultures, for example, white and gold hearses are common and the vehicles tend to be more lavishly decorated.  Meanwhile, in India, specially converted hearses called funeral vans are more common than the sedan models used primarily in the West.

• As of 2016, the world’s most expensive hearse is the Rolls-Royce Phantom Hearse B12. The car is built by Italian custom builder Biemme Special Cars and is powered by a Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre V12 engine. The 23-foot long hearse is about 3 feet longer than traditional models, is made entirely from aluminum and has a coffin compartment that features high luminescence LEDs. The price tag for this ultimate luxury in final rides? A mere $640,000.

• Hearses are built on the same platforms as luxury vehicles. Manufacturers reinforce the body and add a more powerful engine to accommodate the extra weight and stress and for the purposes of helping them last longer. For some people, their ride to the cemetery marks their first – and only – ride in a top of the line luxury automobile.

These are just a few facts about hearses and their mystique. You can learn more about them by going to local hearse dealerships and checking them out in person.