From the new driver personalising a new car, to flower-power bugs and campervans, to the modern Beetle with it’s flower carrying bud vase to grass covered automobiles, flowers and flower motifs seem to go hand in hand with cars. But only one car can take real ownership of the phrase ‘flower car’.
The Cadillac Flower Car is one of a specific type of vehicles used in the funeral industry to transport flowers to a funeral. A kind of cross between a pickup and the more commonly seen funeral car, this Cadillac has a lower height rear where the flowers are carried.
As they were only used for more extravagant luxurious funerals, not all funeral companies felt the need to have one on their books. It is thought that only around ten or twelve such vehicles were built each year making them a rare car to invest in should you find one.
The flower car of the 1960s was often built around the chassis of a Cadillac El Camino coupe or the Eldorado but making these cars into flower cars was the job of the coach builder. In 1976 the American car industry temporarily stopped building convertibles due to fears that the pending tightening up of the law, regarding crash protection in the United States, would outlaw them altogether.
But the demand was still there. Small, independent customising shops started to spring up all over the country to cater for this need. Convertibles hadn’t been outlawed, it was simply a cautionary decision that manufacturers took, so individuals were free to make the change. Coach builders didn’t just chop the roof off an expensive new car and hand it back to the customer, as such a drastic loss of metal could seriously hamper the structural strength of the car. Extra metal needed to be welded into the chassis area to stiffen the vehicle up as well as make it safe to drive.
From the early 80s, manufacturers once again began to offer convertibles to their customers, but this didn’t put the coach builder out of business, for most, if not all, of these manufacturers would build the vehicle as a standard hardtop, before shipping to the coach builder to do convert as a factory option.
The early flower car should be considered, alongside the funeral car and ambulance car, if you are looking for a rare, highly desirable coach-built vehicle. Although finding one in good condition might be hard. Even though the rear bed was generally stainless steel to try to keep rust at bay due to the combination of water and flowers, the drain holes in the bed would potentially release excess water onto the chassis and other crucial areas prone to rust.
Cadillac flower cars are still being built today, built on a Cadillac DTS chassis, the Metropolitan flower car can be ordered from federalcoach.com.
Accubuilt image from www.myhearse.com