Funeral Cars and Limousines
Thanks to this website, we all know the story behind the Wedge Princess/Ambassador; the various models built, their differences and history. However none seem to have looked at what is largely an ignored segment of the Wedge story - Funeral cars.
One of the main users of Austin bodies was that of Woodall Nicholson of Halifax and as with the Austin 18/22 Land Crab range of cars before it, it was only natural that W/N would produce a hearse (Hebden) and a Limousine (Kirklees) and in the case of the Limo, pulling off the stretch remarkably well, and maintaining those distinctive lines. Its closest rival Coleman Milne decided to stick with its ‘moulded’ bodied Fords as it had done for years before. In fact to the classic Hearse Register’s knowledge the only coachbuilder to adopt the Wedge was that of W/N (unless anyone knows different of course).
Strangely though, whilst the Ford Granada model was its closest rival W/N built its MK2 Granada Norwood/Rosedale range alongside until they merged with C/M in 1983, and the wood framed Grannies were dropped. Then predictably it was only a matter of time for the Ambassador and the Montego to go the same way.
Of course, once the funeral directors had finished with these cars there wasn’t much call for them on the used car market and most ended up on a banger racing track.
Exact facts and figures of quantities built are unknown to the club but it’s thought that all of the hearses were of the same style:- twin deck, bearer seats and high-topped (Fords came with 2 or 4 doors, low & high line roofs etc). We have heard, though, that a one off Ambassador limo was built with a conventional 3-box style body.
One thing is true; these cars are becoming rarer and need preserving.
With thanks to the Classic Hearse Register
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How most hearses end up.
Our rare find Ambassador hearse, with our Granada.
A Kirklees limousine.
Inside the Kirklees limousine. This is a 1976 2200HL
All additional trim was perfectly matched with the original.
This one was spotted in the mid-Nineties being used as a van for a market stall!
Heading for the banger track…
Front view of the rare Ambassador hearse.