The Pros and Cons of Owning a Hearse
Phantom Coaches Club Pic: Staging to drive in a procession for Knotts Berry Farm amusement park
I realized that finding parking for a hearse might also pose a problem. I was surprised to find there are quite a few other disadvantages as well. Mark added many to my list. “I would say the fuel consumption is an issue if you use your coach as your only vehicle. Next would be to find coach specific parts such as body parts (windows, landau bars, rear bumpers, etc.) and interior parts (light sconces, drapery hardware), neighbor harassments, rear visibility while driving and looky-loos that pace you when you want to change lanes.”
I was mortified to hear stories of neighbors petitioning people to have the coach removed from the neighborhood, mechanics who refused to work on or test drive the vehicle, and hearses being egged in their parking spots. My heart sank as Amy told me some of the problems she encounters as well. “People hating you for no other reason than for the car you drive. Having your landlord threaten to evict you if you don’t get rid of it. People in this day and age have serious hang ups with death and really need to get over it. I think that seeing my hearse makes them realize they don’t have their shit in order and they freak and then take it out on me and the hearse. They need to learn to live their lives in the present for god’s sake. People need to not take life so seriously- it isn’t permanent.”
Luckily there are also benefits to having a hearse as well. There is all the attention that you get if you want it. It can also double as a moving van. You are one of the most popular people around in October- you get invited to all the best parties. You can get a second job as a funeral worker. Goth clubs tend to give reserved parking and incentives to park your hearse at their clubs. It’s good for business. Ronnie also told me the practical benefits. “They hold up pretty good in a car accident as they are built pretty solid. You can sleep in it on road trips, throw your bike and cooler in the back and head off for the beach. Due to the longer chassis and 40% larger windshield and taller glass, there is lots of headroom and space- it’s almost like sitting on a couch in church. You generally will be given the right of way cause you’re in a hearse. Insurance in most cases is cheaper. Hearses are put into the low theft rate category and not really known for speeding.”
At this point I wanted to drive one so badly I could taste it. I needed to know if the hearse was difficult to drive compared to an average car. Mark told me how I wouldn’t be in any drag races any time soon. “While driving straight, it’s easy. Forget tight turns or U-turns. These cars have a turning radius of an oil tanker. And, as mentioned earlier, visibility makes lane changes challenging. Parking can also be an elaborate ceremony that may include a sacrificial offering to the parking gods. A Co-pilot (i.e. passenger) while driving and ground crew to aid in parking is welcome to us hearse drivers.”
Next I looked into licensing and insurance, as I would need these things to bring home my prized beauty. I learned you do not need a special commercial license to drive a hearse like you would if you were driving a limousine. A regular driver’s license is all you need. I also found out that insurance could be cheaper depending on your area or depending on the year of the vehicle as some can be insured as a classic car. I strongly urge you to call your local Department of Motor Vehicles for information that pertains to your area.
If you are one of the people who think hearses are cool then please take note of the positive and negative things I have uncovered thus far. It’s not enough to think it might suit your lifestyle. There needs to be a dedication and love for the vehicle itself, as Amy explains. “Yes, there are lots of folks who get them and realize what an undertaking it is to own one and then sell them immediately. We call ‘em hearse wannabe’s. For them a hearse is like a big gothic accessory and die-hard hearse nuts think these types of folks are beyond dumb, but it happens. Hearse ownership has a higher turnover rate than McDonalds. I can name about 100 more times it’s caused me grief and misery just because I own it, but I own a hearse because I love it and I couldn’t imagine life without one. It’s a choice, a labor of love for me and I live with that choice each day. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
I then sought out a few tips for buying my first hearse. I was worried about being taken advantage of, which happens so often in purchasing any kind of transportation. Lorna Lourenco, President and founder of Gothic Limos, gave me some great advice we should all adhere to. “Be as selective as you can when purchasing your first hearse. It’s really better to purchase one in good running order than to buy a ‘fixer upper.’ It will most likely take you to the poor house making the necessary repairs. As to joining a club, I’d go and hang out at a meeting or two. That way you will get the feeling of what the individual club is about. Sometimes politics can ruin a really great club.”
Amy also shared with me her words of wisdom. “If you're interested in owning a hearse, don’t be stupid and rush into anything. Visit Grim Rides, read our FAQ, research what you’re getting into first, then make an educated choice. Often hearses are like bunnies at Easter- impulse buys for which the fun wears out when the owner realizes the stuff that goes along with owning a hearse. I’m not trying to scare folks- I’m just trying to inform folks and anyone who is serious about hearse ownership appreciates this fact.”
If you are looking for a hearse to buy or just love to look, then I recommend you go to some of the club sites first. Owning a hearse is a lifestyle. It’s not always easy. It’s not always accepted by society. I hope to get mine soon. How about you?
This article was published in Issue 16 .