By on December 7, 2010

In the wild, panthers are endangered. In the automotive world, Panthers will go extinct sometime in the third quarter of 2011, when the last Lincoln Town Car Executive L rolls off the line. If you think Panthers get a lot of lovin’ around these here parts, you should attend a convention of folks for whom those LTCELs are tools of the trade. Chances are that if you’ve used a limousine or livery service in the past 20 years, you’ve sat in the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car Executive L. That’s why it was big news at Limousine Charter & Tour magazine’s LCT Leadership Summit a couple of months ago when Ford’s fleet marketing manager, Gerry Koss, announced that replacing the soon to be dearly departed Town Car in Ford’s livery fleet fleet will be livery and stretched limo versions of the Lincoln MKT.

It made some sense. For all its ungainly proportions, the MKT has a lot of interior space. Koss pointed out that the MKT has more legroom, headroom, and cargo space than the Town Car, all valuable features to livery operators and their customers. Ford focus tested the MKT livery version with both of those groups, to, they claim, very positive response. Besides the extra space, all wheel drive availability in the MKT appeals to fleet operators in northern climes.

In addition to the standard livery version of the MKT, Koss said that Ford would be making a heavy duty version that will be provided to Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifiers for conversion to limos and hearses. The heavy duty MKT can be stretched up to 10 feet. Ford will start taking orders for MKT professional cars in 4Q 2011 with production beginning in Jan. 2012.

The limo and hearse biz is not too much different from the custom and performance market. The tuners have SEMA and Goodguys and livery operators have events like the aforementioned LC&T Leadership Summit and the National Funeral Directors Association annual show in Chicago.

That’s where Ford previewed a MKT hearse based on prototype heavy duty MKT that had been provided to Eagle Coach for conversion. After the show was over, the car was returned to Dearborn where it was spotted driving around and now it is on sale at an Eagle dealer. As you can see from the photos, it’s actually not a terrible looking car. I think it’s the best looking American based hearse conversion in a while, and possibly better proportioned than the original MKT.

First, before we get to the MKT’s styling, let’s face it, most coffin carriers of the past 30 years have looked kind of funny. Hearse rear ends grafted to downsized aero shapes results in vehicles that look like an engorged tick. The massive front end of the 1970 Cadillac Hearse that Paul featured around Halloween balances the larger rear end. Some feel that the best looking hearses were Cadillacs from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Cars were taller back then so the rooflines high enough to handle a coffin looked more natural.

The MKT already has a long, high roofline so the raised hearse roof isn’t much of a visual stretch. Also, the MKT has that awkward kink in the beltline. On the stock MKT to my eye that raised haunch clashes visually with the gracefully declining roof. Though the roof of the MKT hearse is raised, it rises naturally from the pitch of the windshield and then it flattens out quickly. Think shooting brakes and sport wagons. It even has a a spoiler and a quasi Kamm back.

The Eagle MKT hearse looks to be stretched in the middle and also the rear haunches are extended. That really improves the look of the MKT’s beltline, and also works very well with the long, flat roof. Even the large and often criticized grille (the baleen look can work – see the MKR concept car) is balanced by the increased bulk. It’s not perfect, the side glass doesn’t quite work, but overall I kinda like it. Almost sporting looking, for a hearse.

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31 Comments on “What’s Right With This Picture? Lincoln MKT Hearse...”

  • avatar

    Dear God.    If a man can’t go the the cemetary in style, it’s not worth dying. 
    I haven’t maintained many social norms in my lifetime, but a man (or his corpse) has to draw the line somewhere.

    If I can’t get a ride in an old-style Cadillac Hearse, I ain’t a goin’.

    There’s just nothing ‘hearsey’ about that MKT, it’s heresy I tell you, heresy. 

  • avatar

    Not bad, not bad at all.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Best looking hearse I’ve seen since the “square” Fleetwood went out of existence.  (I mean the aerodynamic Fleetwoods were ok, but still a little strange looking.)

  • avatar

    I’d need to see it in black before rendering Final Judgement…

  • avatar

    That’s a great looking hearse.  I love it.
    The only problem visually speaking are the taillights…they now “smile” because the hearse lacks the MKT’s retro slant back trunk.  Hearses shouldn’t smile, they should frown.

  • avatar

    Good thing they put the Brougham Bar on the C-pillar, else I would have never known it was a hearse.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised Chrysler isn’t doing more to pitch the 300 to this market.  Especially since they were showing a factory 300 stretch a few years ago that never saw the light of day.

    The the CV/GM/TC gone the 300 seems like a much more natural replacement for them than the MKT does.  That and the fact the new Explorer may severely threaten the existence of the Flex/MKT when it finally hits dealer lots.

    • 0 avatar

      The 300 would excel as a hearse. I’m surprised it hasn’t been done.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s been done. I have a huge piece about hearses that is way too unwieldy . Rewritten it a couple of times too and Ed still won’t bite. I’ll try to look it up but if you search for the funeral of the president of Poland and his wife, the ones who died in the wreck of their Russian made plane, you’ll see some Chrysler 300 hearses.

    • 0 avatar

      They did build the 300 stretch – Accubuilt did the conversions. They are rare as hen’s teeth though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the flesh.

  • avatar

    Why, if converted vans replaced station wagons in the ambulance market, did this trend not extend to the hearse market? 

    After all, wouldn’t it be possible and easier to engineer a Lincoln front face, rear lamps, wheels and maybe side trim for factory installation?  Such a Lincoln Econoline or Transit (could even be the Ford brand**, but with the way people are accoustomed to Lincoln this won’t likely change, but in any case Club Wagon or Chateau labels don’t sound quite appropriate) would require much less post-plant conversion … no special roof or stretching of the chassis, etc. and the overall utility of the vehicle would be far greater…

    ** Or a Mercury (or Edsel) … dead brand for dead passengers (even GM and Chrysler could compete here with Hummer/Saturn/Pontiac/(best)Oldsmobile and Plymouth/Imperial/(best)DeSoto …

    • 0 avatar

      Do you *really* want to see how the Lincoln face translates on an Econoline?
      Seriously, the Lincoln face has been slowly growing on me to where I don’t shudder to look at it, but it beggars the imagination to consider how much baleen would be required to cover the face of an E150…

    • 0 avatar

      Good idea…I’d have no problem riding in a DeSoto hearse. Actually, maybe a Fargo….

    • 0 avatar

      Face was already scaled to the MkLT … and besides, to put the face of a whale on a truck is an exercise in minimal downscaling as opposed to having to put it on a vehicle with a non-blunt leading end.

  • avatar

    As ugly in death as it was in life…
    No no, not the dead guy, the CAR.

  • avatar

    It’s not bad, but then I like the MKT anyway.  I do think the Flex makes a better hearse than the MKT, and the Magnum a better hearse than either.

  • avatar

    People will be dying to ride in that baby.

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    @ Robert (Walker); minivans (often Chrysler) are used for funeral services in North America, but generally for “first call cars” – though there have been a few coaches (hearses to most of us) built. 

    First call cars, in case you didn’t know, are cars which might pick corpses up from nursing homes, hospitals, morgues, accident sites, or homes in order to transport the bodies to the mortuary for preparation.  They sometimes can be used for transporting embalmed bodies from hither to yon, but often that task does go to actual hearses.  (Usually someone may want to have their family member taken care of near the place of death then the funeral might be in their home town, etc).

    It’s a sad business in one sense, but as a certified car-guy, I’ve always found a special fascination for professional vehicles – especially the pre-high-top ambullances and coaches, because they are the last remnant of a class of automobile which flourished before WWII and the middle of the Great Depression; hand-built specialty cars. 

    And yes, Chrysler probably would be smart to try to grab some of this business by offering up a heavy duty-ized Chrysler 300. They’d be smart to produce their proposed stretch 300 for livery use, too.

  • avatar

    Leaving aside the wheels, it looks pretty good – for a hearse.  W/r/t the wheels, they’s not bad looking themselves, but look a bit more “sporty” than befits a hearse.  Nout sure what would work better, though; ersatz wires would look terrible, simple five stars have the same problem with perceived “sportiness.”  But something more dignified looking must be available.

    Incidentally, as a kid I knew a guy who used a decommissioned late ’60s Caddy hearse to tow his J-24 to the occassional races too far flung from our area of Lake Ontario to efficiently reach by sail or motor power.  It actually made for a pretty decent tow vehicle – plenty of torque from the big V-8, heavier duty rear suspension, lot’s of room in the back for sails and other gear.  This Lincoln looks like it would also make for a decent tow vehicle for that kind of use, assuming the V-6 has enough low-down grunt.  (I’m guessing the hearses aren’t EcoBoost equipped.)

    • 0 avatar

      Wheels may be part of the “Eternal Full-Zoot Gangsta” option?

      “(I’m guessing the hearses aren’t EcoBoost equipped.)”

      I don’t know about the motor, but essentially you’ve got that right, because, after all, who wants to race to their final repose?

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Sweet revenge on those who swore they wouldn’t be caught dead in a Ford product.

  • avatar

    BTW, the comments in this thread are top notch, very clever and some even subtle puns.

  • avatar

    Not bad looking compared to the recent Cadillacs and Lincolns.
    But is this designed to carry a back seat of passengers along with the deceased?

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    MKT Ghostbusters. An Italian comapny makes the Chrysler 300 Hearse and the Masarati & even a BMW sidecar motorcycle…..

  • avatar

    What a masterpiece of mis-proportion!  This seems typical of “Lincoln” nowadays.  As they try to remake a once-proud marque into an also-ran for the Hip Hop and Rap generations, some truly strange creations have resulted.  A mouth like the MKT looks like it could kill anything in it’s path.  Lincoln is no longer the understated, elegant motorcar it once was known for.  Fortunately, the dead don’t have to look at their last ride, so they won’t have to roll over in their graves.

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