By on July 15, 2012

As I’ve mentioned before, Colorado is a hotbed of recreational hearse activity. This means that today’s Junkyard Find— spotted at the Brain Melting Colorado Junkyard— might be able to find someone willing to brave the rust and get this super-rare hearse back among the living.
Pontiacs built between World War II and John Delorean can be a bit frumpy-looking, with cheap-out features such as a big chrome strip down the hood to hide the fact that GM didn’t want to pay to make hoods out of one piece of metal, but then you look more closely and see all the great Indian-head decorations.
Who doesn’t like an illuminated chrome hood ornament representing Chief Pontiac? Bad people, that’s who.
This hearse is very, very, very rough.
There’s no telling how long the right rear door has been sitting in the weeds, or how many seasons of snow have melted on the floors.
But still, imagine having this brute on the street, maybe complete with vintage coffin in the back.

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25 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1948 Pontiac Hearse...”

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    The hood ornament pic must surely rate as one the greatest car pics ever? it reminds me of the photogrphy in the preWW2 flight magazines from Gt Britain.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I can’t believe no one has swiped that hood ornament, real piece of art work.

    • 0 avatar

      Same here. There’s a pretty good trade in classic hood ornaments at car shows. Usually these and chrome trim are gone either before or as soon as they arrive at a salvage/junk yard.

  • avatar

    Finally some respect.

  • avatar


    You didn’t happen to bring your SDM rig to that junkyard did you? One of these days I’m going to have to build a rig with a narrow stereo base so I can shoot closeups of hood ornaments.

  • avatar

    The proper term for bone-wagons isn’t “hearse”, it’s “service car”. BTW, this would have made a nice project at one point, but from the looks of it now, it’s too far gone.

  • avatar

    “with cheap-out features such as a big chrome strip down the hood to hide the fact that GM didn’t want to pay to make hoods out of one piece of metal”

    Then how do you explain all of the other GM cars from the era that did not have chrome strips running longitudinally down the hood? They were just a misguided styling cue from R.M. Critchfield’s days as Pontiac General Manager. Pete Estes, brought in by Bunkie Knudsen, was the guy that got rid of the strips.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Do any of you remember when Pontiac had a “chief” high beam indicator? I’d swear some of my dad’s Pontiac’s had them.

  • avatar

    Neil Young (in)famously drove a ’48 or ’49 Poncho hearse named ‘Mort’ when he first came to New York and met Stephen Stills in the early sixties. Mort died somewhere in the middle of America on the trip back to Canada, and was immortalized in the song ‘Long May You Run.’ hmmmmm.

    • 0 avatar

      According to the sources that I’ve seen, the car memorialized in Long May You Run was a ’48 Buick Roadmaster based hearse.

    • 0 avatar

      I checked a couple of more sources. Apparently, after the Buick hearse died, Young got a different hearse and drove that one out to LA, hoping to hook up with Stephen Stills, the two of them having met while Stills was playing in Canada. Stills was in a traffic jam in LA and saw an old hearse with Ontario plates and knew it had to Young. A month later, Buffalo Springfield opened for the Byrds.

      • 0 avatar

        Interesting this was brought up, because it reminded me of Neil’s. There’s a pic of it in his biography “Shakey”. I do think it was a Buick though.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll blame my faulty musician brain for this one. Totally right… Mott was a 48 Roadmaster… But the famous Sunset Strip incident was a 53 Poncho hearse.

        Can you imagine what the sixties would have been like if Neil had been driving, say, an old Chevy, and went unrecognized by Stills, back to Ontario? He was playing with Rick James at the time… Alternate universes are unfolding…

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, and I remember Keith Richards drove a blue 48-51 Pontiac convertible from the time of the Exile on Main Street recordings well into the 1980s’.

  • avatar

    I remember seeing a 54 Cadillac hearse at a museum not that long ago and marveled at how talk it was compared to the modern versions. I wonder how large that Pontiac is it’s got to be a true whale.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse


  • avatar

    I want the straight 8 that’s in it.

  • avatar

    I knew I hadn’t dreamed this. I remember as a kid in the 60s that a local florist in Oklahoma used an old Pontiac hearse in her business. And lo and behold . . .

    Would the Departed consider it a come-down to take that last ride in a Pontiac? Doesn’t propriety insist on a Cadillac, Lincoln or Imperial, or a horse-drawn conveyance with black plumes? And how far down-scale could one go? I could totally see a demand for a 1958 Plymouth Fury hearse. You would have to beat the customers away with sticks.

    Love the details of the Pontiac ornaments. I remember that as far back as my family’s 1962 Bonneville, the symbol was a star burst, except in the middle of the horizontal speedometer was a red bright-light indicator of Chief Pontiac in profile. But no where else on the vehicle was he portrayed. Why did GM ditch such a magnificent symbol? Too long ago for political correctness. DeLorean?

    Remember some models in the 1950s had Chief Pontiac hood ornaments THAT WERE TRANSPARENT WITH AMBER LIGHT BULBS AND GLOWED WHEN THE HEADLIGHTS WERE TURNED ON! That was the ultimate for this kid.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry but I’m just too creeped out by hearses to ever own one, I’ll ride in one when I’m dead. I would even pass up an Imperial hearse.

  • avatar

    This ’48 didn’t have an illuminated Chief Pontiac but it’s nice anyway .

    My ’54 Pontiac Super Chief Coupe did and it was the first thing I fixed after the brakes and tune up details .

    Terrific cars in spite of the aging flathead InLine 8 cylinder engine .


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