Custom Hearses Hit Top Gear

September 25, 2014

Unusual funeral hearses are setting the trend for unique send-offs and the dying wish for almost a quarter (23%) of Britons is to make their last journey in a personalised vehicle, according to new research* issued today.

The UK’s largest funeral director, The Co-operative Funeralcare**, which has a network of over 900 funeral homes, has conducted a study into alternative hearses which are now seen at almost 40,000*** funerals across the UK.

The choice of funeral hearses has expanded to meet people’s dying wishes with people opting for a motorbike hearse for a biker and tractor and trailer for a farmer as well as a converted steam train for a train driver.

Funeral Directors at The Co-operative Funeralcare have also reported requests for Rolls Royces, pink Cadillacs, milk-floats and even a tandem bicycle alongside traditional hearses. While JCBs, camper vans, pickup trucks, skip lorry and double-decker buses are among the vehicles which have also headed funeral processions organised by The Co-operative Funeralcare. In response, the business has invested in its own fleet of unusual hearses which includes classic cars to a Japanese style Buddhist hearse.

The poll revealed that one in five people would want their final journey to take place in a vehicle which reflected their favourite hobby or pastime, with horse drawn and bicycle hearses topping the list.

Over one in 10 men would like a mode of transport in keeping with their profession. White van men, such as builders and plumbers, would be the most likely to choose work-related transportation for their last journey, followed by milkmen and those from the armed forces or emergency services. Two thirds of farm workers would opt for a horse-drawn cart, tractor or Land Rover hearse to reflect their occupation.

The research also highlighted Britons’ dream hearses of choice including the Hogwarts Express, Tardis, the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars and bizarrely, the Trojan Rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Transport from TV programmes also played an important part in people’s dying wishes with the Batmobile, Knight Rider’s KITT Car, The A Team van, Starsky and Hutch’s Ford Gran Torino and the Flintstone’s car, accounting for more than one in five choices for the ultimate final journey. Aficionados of only Fools and Horses can actually choose a replica of Del Boy’s van, which is called ‘Only Fools and Hearses,’ for their send-off.

Sam Kershaw, Operations Director, The Co-operative Funeralcare, said:

“Funerals have been undergoing a sea change in recent years as people seek to personalise their send off and the rise in alternatives to the traditional black hearse has grown to meet this need.

“The use of unusual hearses, from lorries, milkfloats and bicycles to motorbikes, would have been frowned upon in days gone by. However funeral customs are changing as people choose hearses amongst other elements of a funeral such as flowers and music which reflect and celebrate the life of a loved one.”

He added:

“The choice of hearse is just one way in which a funeral can be tailored and we would always urge families to discuss their wishes with their funeral director. We will always try our utmost to accommodate individual requests, no matter how unusual they are, we will do anything our clients want us to do providing it is legal and decent. Consideration can also be given to the route a funeral procession can take.”

Notes to Editors:

* Research carried out by OnePoll among 2,000 men and women mourners aged 18 and above, across all regions of the UK and across a range of occupations.

** The Co-operative Funeralcare is the UK’s number one funeral services provider and part of The Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest co-operative business, whose purpose is “Championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities.” Owned by over eight million members, The Co-operative Group operates a total of 4,500 outlets, with around 87,000 employees and has an annual turnover of £11 billion with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Further information is available at

*** In 2013, 573,452 funerals took place across the UK, and research among mourners shows that one in 15 funerals (around 38,230 funerals) feature a non-traditional hearse.

For more information contact:

Kieran Howlett, 0161 767 4289 or 07739 657 585