Paul Parker recently realized a boyhood dream.
He bought a hearse.
And he shows off his rather ghoulish acquisition at every opportunity.
On Sunday, he parked his hearse, a 1995 Chevy Caprice, outside Mazatlán restaurant just west of downtown Aldergrove, for the inaugural Mexican Fiesta Car Show.
This is the fourth car show this year that Parker has brought the hearse to – he caught wind of this particular event through Facebook.
While the typical dream car for a young guy might be, say, a muscle car such as a Challenger or a Camaro, or a Harley Davidson bike, Parker coloured outside the lines when it came to his auto aspirations.
“I’ve always wanted a hearse since I was a kid,” he said.
Why a hearse?
“I don’t really know,” he answered with a shrug.
Parker didn’t have to add a whole lot to the hearse that he picked up for a nifty $1,500, from a Burnaby car dealer who specializes in selling these kinds of vehicles.
“I just added the skulls and the nameplates and I painted the wheels, but other than that, I bought it the way it sits,” he said.
The hearse, with a personalized license plate reading “las ryd,” was emblazoned with a mock skeleton of a vulture as its hood ornament and skeletal pall bearers surrounding a shiny silver coffin at the back during Sunday’s show.
Parker bought the coffin from a casket manufacturer.
“They were getting out of the business so they had some caskets kicking around,” Parker related.
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He usually gets behind its wheel on special occasions, such as the show in Aldergrove and the upcoming Langley Good Times Cruise-In, taking place in downtown Langley Sept. 10.
“It’s not my daily driver,” Parker said.
Parker says that during show-and-shines, he’ll usually be asked “Is it haunted,” or “aren’t you scared to drive that?”
“Lots of older people had hearses when they were kids, back in the day,” Parker noted.
Parker’s hearse has some get-up-and-go.
It’s equipped with a 350cc engine “so it’s pretty fast,” he said.
“I gave it some better breathing – it’s got some nice exhaust in it so it sounds good too,” Parker said.
An added bonus: there’s plenty of room for passengers.
“There’s lots of leg room, let’s just say that,” Parker said, laughing.
Merc ‘piece of cake’ to drive
A few feet down the line of cars on display, was a caramel-and-white-coloured 1956 Mercury Montclair two-door hard top, equipped with a factory-installed dual exhaust and bumper fitted exhaust tips.
The signboard at the foot of the car reads “This car owns Claud & Darlene Muench of Langley B.C.”
Claud heard about the show the morning of, and decided to take his prized possession east to Aldergrove to join in on the fun.
“I always do local stuff,” he said. “I do a lot with the A&W with the car.”
Claud has owned the car for going on two decades, now, and over the years, has collected “70 or 80” trophies from various show-and-shines.
He said his Montclair has never been restored, “but you’re always tinkering with it, always making it look a little better.”
This was a car Claud couldn’t afford as a young guy – his first car was a ’51 Meteor two-door hard top.
“I bought that in 1957,” Claud said. “I was graduating high school when this car was new.”
Today, Claud drives the car whenever the asphalt isn’t slick.
“We’ll go for groceries, go for dinner,” he said. “So long was the roads are dry, the Merc will go out, yep.”
And despite its size, driving the Montclair is “a piece of cake,” Claud said.
“You steer it with one finger, because it has power steering,” he said.