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Preserving the World's Professional Car History™ since 1989.


We regularly select a photograph or professional car that is worthy of being featured on the Northland website.  Here is a beauty!


Ken Peterson bought this 1956 Superior Pontiac hearse many years ago from the Bertas Funeral Home in Chaska, MN. He has displayed it at two PCS International Meets: the ’84 Meet in Dearborn, Michigan and the ’96 Meet in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This beautiful hearse is finished in light gray over black with a dark red interior.  [John R. Schmidt photo]


(click on the pictures for the larger version)



This 1966 Superior Cadillac Crown Royale 3-way hearse was purchased new on June 2, 1966 by Lial Lilley, owner of a funeral car livery service located on the corner of 46th Street & Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, MN.  Mr. Lilley was a loyal Superior customer who usually purchased 2-4 new hearses - usually 3-ways - every other year.  This example is equipped with a manual casket table, AM radio, and factory air conditioning.  The factory driveaway price was approximately $12,784.  Superior Coach Corporation of Lima, Ohio built 140 Cadillac 3-way funeral coaches in 1966.*  (Superior, The Complete History, by Thomas A. McPherson)

After being used by Lial Lilley's livery service for five years, this coach was traded in and subsequently sold to the Ertl Funeral Home of Watkins, MN on February 25, 1972.  It remained in front-line service in this small community until December 13, 1991 when it was purchased by David Karsnia of Detroit Lakes, MN.  In the nearly 20 years the coach was in Watkins, it accumulated less than 9,000 miles due to the close proximity of the church and cemetery to the funeral home. 

This hearse is now owned by PCS member Don Lagerstrom of Crestwood, Illinois. 

The accompanying photos were taken by Tony Karsnia on January 21, 1991, a very cold winter day that he drove to Watkins, MN to see and photograph this impressive coach.


The newest car to be featured is this 1995 Sayers & Scovill Cadillac Victoria hearse, owned by Dennis & Peggy Goethe of Ellisville, MO.  Black cars against the white show makes a striking contrast!



This 1972 Cotner/Bevington Oldsmobile Cotington 48 ambulance was one of identical twins purchased new by the Dallas County Ambulance Service in central Iowa.  It was in active service until its retirement in 1979.  After being traded to Foster Coach Sales in Sterling, Illinois, the twin went on to another ambulance service and this car was purchased by a collector in Sterling.  Larri Dirks purchased this ambulance from the collector about six years ago and has done a complete, authentic restoration.  Notice the "72 RESQ" Illinois license plates. If this car looks as good as new, that's because it is!  Congratulations, Larri, on a beautiful ambulance and a job very well done! 



1938 Brantford Henney Packard Formal 3-way hearse.  Now owned by PCS member Bill Carlin, Miller-Carlin Funeral Home, St. Cloud, MN.  This car was restored about 10 years ago and owned by a classic auto livery service in Minneapolis, where it was used on several funeral services.  When purchased by Mr. Carlin, the car was given another thorough restoration, which is nearly complete.  We look forward to seeing current photos of it soon!

MAY-JUNE, 2010

Many consider 1968 to the the height of elegant styling from the Miller-Meteor shop.  Here's a fine example of that craftsmanship!  Tony & Kim Karsnia have been the proud owners of this 1968 Miller-Meteor Cadillac Classic Limousine Duplex since March 2006. They are the third owners of this car, which has original Regal Silver paint, dual A/C, removable landau panels, and just 64,000 original miles. It was purchased new by the Ayres-Calbeck Mortuary of Pratt, Kansas, then sold to the Johnson Funeral Chapel in Ellis, Kansas (which later became Wasinger Funeral Chapel.) The Karsnias bought this car directly from Wasinger Funeral Chapel, where it had been in service - and well cared for - since 1972.  UPDATE:  As of August, 2010, this beauty is now owned by Ed Renstrom.


Just in time for St. Patrick's Day comes this 2-tone green 1971 Miller-Meteor Cadillac Eterna hearse. Little is known about this car, except that it passed through the hands of Milwaukee, Wisconsin professional car broker, Bob Hedges, at some point. From the archives of Tony Karsnia.




The last Cadillac Ambulance, 30 years ago.  Delivered to Dr. Roger White on February 19, 1980 at the Kibby St. factory, this 1979 Superior Cadillac Transport Ambulance signaled the end of a long era of Cadillac ambulances.  Read the feature story in the January/February 2010 issue of Northland Crown Journal newsletter.



This 1966 Superior Cadillac Royale limousine combination, formerly owned by R.S. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home in Memphis, Tennessee has been verified as the coach that transported the body of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. following his assassination in that city on April 4, 1968 on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

Mr. R. S. Lewis called in this coach at the John Gaston Hospital, where Dr. King was pronounced dead, to transfer Dr. King's remains to his funeral home for preparation and an impromptu public viewing in an open metal casket.   The following day this coach transferred Dr. King's casket from the funeral home to Memphis Metropolitan Airport (now Memphis International Airport) for the flight home to Atlanta where Dr. King's family was waiting.

One year ago this month, Mr. R.S. Lewis shared his thoughts about his involvement in the events in Memphis in April, 1968. Video is here.     




By far the newest professional car that Tony & Kim Karsnia of East Bethel, MN have owned, this white 1994 Federal Lincoln Stratford hearse came to them fresh out of service in October 2009. It was purchased new by Boulger Funeral Home in Fargo, ND where it was used until 1998 when a new white Federal Lincoln was purchased. This 1994 Federal Lincoln then went to the Wildeman Funeral Home in Hillsboro, ND (which is owned by Boulger) and remained there until 2003, when the next new Boulger hearse - a white 2003 Federal Lincoln - was purchased, at which time the 1998 was rotated to Hillsboro and this 1994 Federal was sold to the Dobmeier Funeral Home of Barnesville, MN. When Boulgers purchased a new 2009 Eagle Cadillac Echeon Elite in September 2009, the entire rotation was made again, with Dobmeier acquiring the 1998 Federal Lincoln from Hillsboro. At that time, this hearse was retired and moved to the Karsnia fleet.

This 70,000 mile car has been well cared for and never abused. The white exterior is complimented by a blue velour interior and woodgrain casket table. The rear interior quarter panels feature lighted shadow boxes with embroidered floral pillow accents. The coach is powered by the 4.6 liter Lincoln V8 engine. Tony Karsnia says, "We have traditionally been 'Cadillac people' but are very impressed with the smoothness, comfort, and overall design of this Lincoln."  Update, January 2010:  New owner is Matthew Taylor of Missouri!




This beauty is a 1969 Superior Cadillac Royale limousine hearse and was very recently acquired by Mike & Dawn Mykulak of Minneapolis, MN.  The factory "fawn" paint is striking, as is the two-tone interior of ivory and brown.  This model is a "Royale" rather than a "Sovereign" because of the corner windows on each side of the rear loading door.  Notable is the rear floor is carpeted rather than Formica®, and the airline-style draperies.  Just above the side chrome strip, near the tail light on each side, is the "Superior Coach" insignia plate.  Superiors of this vintage were especially noted for their slanting "C" pillar and the curved shape of the top.  Although Cadillac had eliminated the front door vent window for 1969, the coachbuilders continued the vent windows for the 1969 model year, ending them with the 1970 models.

We hope Mike & Dawn  will be Northland & PCS members soon, and we look forward to seeing this beautiful coach at many Northland Chapter events in 2010!         Photos by Tony Karsnia



Ken Novak of Oceanside, California, owns this 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five Nine-passenger Sedan. Formerly serving a mortuary, the car now has 40,000 miles.  It is painted in original optional Cadillac Firemist paint-Crystal blue, with black vinyl roof.


Seldom seen is a Cotner/Bevington Oldsmobile Limousine, but they do exist.  Here's proof!  This 1966 Cotner/Bevington Oldsmobile Limousine in a rare color combination was photographed by Tony Karsnia at the 2008 PCS Meet in Mt. Laurel, NJ.    Based on the Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight chassis, this limousine offered the comforts and luxury of a Cadillac limousine, at a much reduced price.  As it turns out, the Oldsmobile limousines are much more rare than a Cadillac limousine of the same year.

AUGUST, 2009

1960 Flxible Buick Flxette

This rare color factory photograph was located in a museum in Flxible's hometown of Loudonville, Ohio.  On this 1960 Flxible Buick Flxette, notice that this short wheelbase coach has a coachbuilt #2 side door, without the usual "dogleg."  Of special note, too, is how gracefully Flxible melded the sweeping beauty lines of the 1960 Buick into the coachwork, the four "ventiports" on the front fender, full wheel covers with wide whitewall tires, and the Flxible nameplate on the front fender.  You can bet that Burke-Hammer Funeral Home was the envy of their colleagues when this new Buick made its appearance in their town.

JULY, 2009


This beautiful gleaming white 1939 Henney Packard Ambulance photograph is from the 1996 PCS International Meet in St. Paul, MN.  Here is an example of how talented Wayne Kempfert is with vintage automobile restorations. He did most of the restoration of this himself. Take our word for it, this car needed WAY more than a good cleaning and fresh paint! Wayne’s skillful restoration of this car got him the BEST OF SHOW trophy at the 1996 PCS International Meet in St. Paul, MN.

JUNE, 2009


This 1940 Packard cathedral-style carved hearse was one of the very first coaches John J. C. Little built after leaving the Mitchell Hearse Co. in Ingersoll, Ontario. It was built for the Thorpe FH in Welland, Ontario not far from Niagara Falls. Remember, Henney never built carved-panel hearses so this is a real rarity.  That's John Little himself at the far right in the bottom photo.   Photographs courtesy of Walter M.P. McCall.

MAY, 2009

Now that the professional car touring season is almost in full-swing, many enthusiasts will be stopping by the funeral coach manufacturing plants for tours and to see the latest offerings.  Northland Chapter member, the late Bernie DeWinter IV, a frequent visitor to the Ohio-based manufacturers, spotted this beautiful red 1992 Superior Cadillac Crown Sovereign landau awaiting delivery in the lot at Superior Coaches in Lima.  "They keep trying to 'Bernie-proof' those yards with chain-link fences", he'd say, "but I'll still gladly take a grab-shot when I can."

APRIL, 2009


This is a 2009 Eagle Cadillac Ultimate hearse, custom built for Kramer Funeral Home in Trimont, MN.  It is gold mist metallic with crown top, oval windows with optional airline-style curtains, and a tan canyon rear floor.  Photographed by Tony Karsnia at Baines Professional Vehicles in Ramsey, MN prior to delivery to Kramer Funeral Home.    (March 2009)

MARCH, 2009

Our February feature photo, depicting the Smith Ambulance fleet in the Hopkins Raspberry Festival parade generated so much discussion at the recent Northland Chapter Mid-Winter Warm-Up Meet, we decided to do a sequel!  This shot, taken from the opposite side of the street, shows Smith's 1964 Superior Cadillac Rescuer ambulance.  Mr. Dave Gibson, who attended February's Mid-Winter Warm-Up Meet, was employed by Smith Ambulance at the time and was driving one of the three rigs we've seen in these feature photos!


Two nearly new 1966 Superior Cadillac 51" Rescuer ambulances, owned by Smith Ambulance Service in Minneapolis, Minnesota, crosses the intersection of Mainstreet and 6th in the annual summertime Raspberry Festival Grande Day parade through downtown Hopkins, MN.  These ambulance twins had a roof-mounted Federal Q2B siren, tunnel lights, lighted signs on the front and sides of the roof bearing the SMITH name, a large rotating beacon on the roof, rear air conditioning, and door-mounted forward facing red spotlights.  The tall communications antenna is mounted to the left fender.  If you look very closely, you'll see  another probably older Superior ambulance on the passenger side of the second ambulance. Also, notice the well dressed (white shirt and cap!) ambulance attendant visible in the front passenger seat.  The unusual street lights are interesting, as is the tower in the background proclaiming downtown HOPKINS with lighted letters on all four sides.  The motel building and the "Direct Service" building next door are both still standing, however the nearby railroad tracks and Hopkins tower are long gone.  The Raspberry Festival, started in 1934, continues to this day.  Photo from the Tony Karsnia collection.



This may be the only Pontiac three-way funeral coach ever built. This was built by John Little on a 1954 Pontiac for the Milton R. Futher Funeral Home in Wellesley, Ontario. Note the large Eureka-style coach lamps.  The builder's photo was taken across the street from John Little's shop in Ingersoll, Ontario.  These photos are from the Walter M.P. McCall Collection, and are shared with you courtesy of Walt.


Pardon the co-webmaster's nostalgia!  This is a 1968 Miller-Meteor Cadillac Citation Landau 3-way hearse, formerly owned by Northland members Dennis & Peggy Goethe of Ellisville, Missouri.  This was the first professional car Dennis purchased, which the Goethes sold in 2006.   



Many months ago, Robert Shepard entrusted his 1975 Miller-Meteor Cadillac Criterion Ambulance to the care of Ed Renstrom of Hot Springs, South Dakota for a complete restoration.  What was once a nice blue-and-white Criterion is now a stunning red and white Criterion in as-good-as-new condition.  Robert drove the Criterion home from South Dakota over the first weekend of November, 2008 and arrived safely at home on Monday, November 3rd.  The Northland and Miller-Meteor Chapters congratulate Robert on his dedication to this professional car and Ed Renstrom for his beautiful work on Robert's car.  For extensive restoration photographs, go to Ed's album here. 



This absolutely beautiful and perfect 1937 Sayers and Scovill Buick Byzantine Carved Hearse was formerly owned by Andre Pilon of Arnprior, Ontario, Canada.  The picture on the left is what Andre started with, and on the right is the finished project.  Amazing, isn't it?!   It takes a man with incredible vision and dedication to see that this could be transformed into a beautiful coach and to follow through with it in every detail.  You may have seen three of Andre's other classic funeral coaches recently on eBay, including a S&S horse-drawn and a Miller Packard carved-side hearse.  Photograph credits to Andre Pilon, along with our thanks for saving this rare coach.


This 1962 National Mercury Ambulance, as seen still in service at Osakis, Minnesota in 1979.  This very rare car is pictured in front of the Osakis Fire Hall.  Photo courtesy of Dr. Roger White.

AUGUST, 2008

This fleet was owned by Brenny's Granite City Ambulance Service in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  From left to right:  1969 Ford station wagon, 1961 Superior Cadillac 48" Rescuer, and 1969 Superior Cadillac 51" Rescuer.



Peter Adsten writes:  This 1957 National Pontiac was operated by Mac's Ambulance Service in Medicine Hat, Alberta from 1957 to 1967. The car then went to the volunteer fire department in the neighboring town of Bow Island. In 1990 we purchased the car at Crestline Coach, restored it a bit, and used it for public relations purposes. We would also borrow the car to ambulance services in the three prairie provinces, so they could display it in their local shopping centre or drive it in their main street parade.  The car is now owned by Peter Adsten of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. 


1949 S&S Cadillac Knickerbocker combination coach, originally owned by Norman Funeral Chapel, Grand Forks, North Dakota and now owned by John Royark, Jr. of Elberon, IA.  These photos were taken at Elberon June 1, 2007.


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