Hazel Park resident Del Bunch owns a 1974 Cadillac  Superior Sovereign Landaulet funeral car. The hearse weighs in at 6,580 pounds and  stretches 21 feet,  3 1/3 inches long.

Hazel Park resident Del Bunch owns a 1974 Cadillac Superior Sovereign Landaulet funeral car. The hearse weighs in at 6,580 pounds and stretches 21 feet, 3 1/3 inches long.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Behind the Wheel: Hearse makes for a spirited ride

By: Jennifer Sigouin | C&G Newspapers | Published October 30, 2018

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

The back of a hearse is a place where most of us don’t want to end up anytime soon —  but with countless hearse-owners clubs around the world, there are plenty of brave souls who aren’t afraid to sit up front and take the driver’s seat. 

For Hazel Park resident and hearse owner Del Bunch, an affinity for hearses started when he was in high school.

“We had to do community service to graduate, so it was volunteer at the hospital or the local Jaycee charity haunted house. I went with the latter,” Bunch said in an email interview. “I got to see many hearses, and they were all different. I like a good ’57 Chevy, but they made thousands of them — each hearse is unique.”

Bunch’s hearse is a black 1974 Cadillac Superior Sovereign Landaulet funeral car, which was built by the Superior Coach Co. in Lima, Ohio. Although it bears the Cadillac name, Bunch said that the car’s chassis is the only part that was made at the Fisher Body plant in Detroit. 

“Every other part of the car was custom-built at Superior,” he said, noting that it weighs in at 6,580 pounds and stretches 21 feet, 3 1/3 inches long. 

Buying this particular hearse, he added, was a case of happenstance. 

“I was actually on my way to look at a different hearse when this one pulled up next to me for sale,” he said. “I saw it and instantly started praying it wasn’t a rust bucket. … I could fix leaks, but a rusty frame is a deal breaker.”

Luckily, the hearse had a clean body and frame, and with the exception of fixing a few leaks, Bunch didn’t have to do much restoration work. He added that the hearse was all-original, but he installed a new radio and speakers, because it was “way too quiet.” 

And to answer one of the most frequent questions that Bunch gets asked, no, the hearse is not haunted. Bunch did add a few frights of his own, though, including a real casket in the back — complete with a (fake) severed head — as well as a skeleton sidekick named Piggy, who sometimes accompanies him in the passenger seat. 

Bunch said he takes the hearse to parades, car shows, cruises, fundraisers, trunk-or-treat events and more, and it always draws attention. 

“The best responses came from this year’s (Woodward) Dream Cruise as my shotgun rider named Piggy swung his arm out the window and waved at the crowds,” he said. “Lots of laughs, screams and a few high-fives. Guess they didn’t expect to see a skeleton wave out the window at them.”

Bunch has also won several awards for his hearse, and he said that his favorite honors have been kids’ choice awards from various events. 

“It’s not about having the biggest, the shiniest or loudest,” he explained. “The kids’ choice is because they had fun. When others say, ‘Don’t touch,’ I open the door and say, ‘Have a seat!’ I let them get in, crawl around and ask questions.”

Bunch, who works on the IT team for the Salvation Army’s Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center, added that one of the perks of owning the hearse is that it’s a surefire conversation starter. 

“Honestly, I love the conversations,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a car show, sitting at a red light or carrying groceries to the car, people are just compelled to say hi.”


SHARE YOUR STORY

Do you own a vehicle that has an interesting history or a special meaning to you? Contact Staff Writer Jennifer Sigouin at jsigouin@candgnews.com, and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of Behind the Wheel.