Last Ride: Funeral home unveil '64 Ford Falcon V8 to die for
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Most people do not look forward to going in a hearse, for obvious reasons, but Rotorua's Collingwood Funeral Home may have changed that.
The third and newest addition to the funeral home's fleet of hearses is a converted 1964 V8 Falcon.
Co-owner and funeral director Mike Lee said the unique vehicle had always been a dream for he and co-owner Todd Gower.
"We wanted to offer something different to people that wasn't a flash, over-the-top hearse. We wanted something with some resemblance or some memories of that vehicle type or era. It's something unique too, no one has it," Lee said.
Lee and Gower took out the back seats before building and upholstering a deck designed to fit a range of different sized coffins as part of completely converting the left-hand drive car to a hearse. The V8 engine is also new.
Collingwood Funeral Home co-owner Mike Lee with the funeral home's new "one-of-a-kind" hearse. Photo / Ben Fraser
"It's in as close to new condition as you can get and it's the original colour. It has the original seats, upholstered at some stage but done back to original.
"The feedback we've had is people love it. The interesting thing is people who have seen it as a hearse have thought it's a really nice thing, they appreciate that we've taken a classic and made it something that will become a memory for people.
"People stop to look at it, ask questions about it, want to know what year it was. They say their dad had one or their grandad had one. Lots of younger people tell me this is what they want when it is their time," Lee said.
Customers still had the option of a regular hearse as the funeral home also owned a more standard Commodore and Mercedes E350.
Lee said it was a privilege, as a funeral director, to help facilitate the celebration of a life and a hearse played a big part in those proceedings.
"We actually stumbled across this in Tauranga, it had been imported from California, and we bought it there and then. It arrived in New Zealand six months ago and we've been waiting for compliance since.
"Predominantly it was the look of the Falcon that appealed to us. My grandad had one very similar, a slightly different year but the same look. That will be the connection for most people, that there was something similar in their heritage."
The last touch on the new hearse was a fitting number plate: "LST RID".
-Rotarua Daily Post