Human Flower Project

Should Cadillacs Be Forgot?


General Motors, after another near death experience, might be revived by making the vehicles of its glory days—like the flower car.


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1958 Cadillac flower car

Photo: Washington Times

The cortege for Year 2008 is lined up, idling, ready to roll into history.  And in that procession, we hope to spot a flower car, loaded with funereal blooms—gladiolas and white carnations.

Never heard of a “flower car”? Until very recently, neither had we – yet more evidence of how that Goliath known as General Motors has been knocked in the head.

These were some of the priciest of GM’s “professional cars” – made to carry the casket in a discreet compartment, and above that,  an open deck (think El Camino) for transporting to the cemetery all those heaps of sympathy flowers people used to send.

imageA late-bloomer, the 1974 Superior-Cadillac Coupe de Fleur Flower Car

Photo: VFRCLC

The heyday of flower cars was GM’s heyday too – the two decades after World War II. “Flower cars were typically manufactured in low numbers” (as few as a dozen per year) “on the same platform as hearses, by the major professional car manufacturers. Flower cars were always a rare breed even in the best of times, but were discontinued when Cadillac downsized in 1977.”

We read that a few “smaller builders (McLain of Anderson, IN and Wolfington Body of Exton, PA,) created low dollar flower cars out of regular Cadillac Coupe DeVilles on standard wheelbases throughout the late ‘70’s and beyond” – the Packard company once sold a flower car, too—but collectors say, “You don’t really see this style of funeral coach anymore.”

With cremation and memorials “in lieu of flowers,” who needs a shiny black ship with a bed of cut flowers on the back?

Under the terms of 2008’s federal bailout, “GM is scheduled to receive loans totaling $9.4 billion through January. Another $4 billion will be made available in February.” Executives may blame the corporation’s problems on the “legacy costs” of well-compensated workers. But we don’t buy that. GM shut down its manufacturing plants to concentrate on auto financing. Bad move. It also abandoned the sorts of products and styling that had built its reputation. To “downsize” the Cadillac is like pulling out a lion’s teeth.

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1956 flower car in Don Corleone’s funeral procession, The Godfather

Photo: IMCDB

One car aficionado recommended that GM come back strong. “Cadillac should make luxury barges, stretched limos, other specialty cars like funeral cars, flower cars and a FWD luxury flagship coupe like the ‘67-69 Eldorado.”

(Note: We understand that President-elect Barack Obama will be receiving an armored Cadillac as “First-Car.” How will his Prius-y constituents accept that?)

We expect that GM will spend its federal loans imitating foreign carmakers. But isn’t it way too late for that? Rather than bemoaning its “legacies,” couldn’t GM move forward on the strengths of them? For who else but Cadillac could give us such spectacles as these flower-decked showboats, rolling toward eternity?


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/31 at 06:53 PM

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