Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

As Rare As It Gets: 1960 Kaiser Carabela Funeral Car

And now for something completely different. Have you ever seen or heard of a Kaiser Carabela? Me neither. In addition to old vehicles found in barns, sheds, and carports, Barn Finds also feature survivors, drivers, projects, parts cars, fully-restored cars, and even professional cars. I’d have to file this under “B” for downright Bizarro. It’s a 1960 Argentina-made Kaiser Carabela that was converted into what is called a “Funeral Car.” A little research online showed that it was once owned by the Argentina government (along with a Kaiser Carabela Flower Car that was built in 1959). It is currently residing at a dealer (or an airplane hanger?) in East Palatka, Florida, and is for sale here on eBay with an asking price of $79,500. Offers will also be considered. Gracias to Dr. Ron for sending this most unusual vehicle tip our way!

A 1960 Kaiser that looks like a ’55? Made in Argentina? What gives? Here’s the story: In the early 50’s, Argentina started talking with auto manufacturers about building cars there. Kaiser, with its car building business all but dead here in the U.S., was the only one to accept the offer and Kaiser and the government of Argentina inked a deal in 1955. A new factory was built in the city of Santa Isabel in the province of Cordoba (no, Ricardo Montalban had nothing to do with choosing the plant location) and production started in 1958. The cars manufactured were basically 1955 Kaiser Manhattans which were rebadged as the Carabela, a type of Spanish sailing ship. Several instrument changes were made including recalibrating the speedometer to kilometers, changing the temperature, oil, and fuel gauges to Spanish, beefing up the suspension due to Argentina’s roads and not offering an automatic transmission due to the foreseen difficulty of providing service and repairs to some of Argentina’s remote towns. Production would last through the 1962 model year.

To make a Funeral Car, a Kaiser Manhattan was stretched from its original 215″ length to a whopping 285″ by a factory in Buenos Aires. The overall craftsmanship of the conversion is impressive. It took a lot of black paint to cover this beast and it looks very shiny as does the chrome and trim and those cool full wheel covers with a “K” in the middle. It looks like the Manhattan’s original wraparound back glass was retrofitted in and we’re told that when the rear gate is folded down, there’s an 89″ sliding casket holder with rollers. That unique, columned casket cover is quite ornate and even includes two illuminated casket lights.

The blue and gray interior, like the rest of this vehicle, is interesting. Overall, it’s in good shape with a  50’s-era Jet Age instrument cluster (where the speedometer has been changed to kilometers) and an attractive ribbed padded dash. The bench seat looks like it has been covered in a clear plastic seat cover and there’s discoloration visible on the side. The current dark blue carpet needs to have some wrinkles stretched out and there are two aftermarket gauges where the radio used to be.

Under its black hood, you’ll find a clean engine bay housing a rebuilt 226-cubic inch inline 6 that’s mated to a column-shift manual transmission. No details are given as to when the engine was rebuilt and the odometer is listed as “9,999.” It’s anybody’s guess how many of these Kaiser Carabela Funeral Cars were manufactured down in Argentina and how many ever made it here to the States. This might be the only one or the only one surviving in this condition. It’s a hefty asking price for something this rare and unusual. But if you have deep pockets and are into “rare and unusual” in a big way, this one makes a statement. All 24 feet of it.

Comments

  1. Avatar photo 370zpp Member

    Note the “urn” inspired columns used to support the casket cover.

    Like 6
  2. Avatar photo No Thanks graveyard

    Wow 😮
    I never ever have any interest in a hearse.

    Its not that I am scared but any 1960-1970s muscle car, pickup vehicle would be much cooler.

    Just my taste and opinion..

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo kim in Lanark

      C’mon, people are just dying for a ride in this. I’ll let myself out now.

      Like 19
  3. Avatar photo Mitchell G. Member

    I feel like it’s a 1950 and not a 1960

    Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Robert Proulx

    Actually impressive, its unique. The 200 k.p.h. speedo is optimistic as per at that speed it would agitate the bereaved. You even see on the column the window for the prndl indicator. Oddly enough if i was a funeral director i’d buy it and use it.

    Like 17
  5. Avatar photo Al Dee

    Wow! Just Wow! Such a beautiful blast from the past! – Harold and Maude would be so proud. Since funeral parlors are about the only business that’s getting busier and busier nowadays, there’s got to be one of them out there that has the cash to take this beauty, take good care of it (fix that front seat) and offer it as a premium funeral service for those willing to pay for it. — Uh the plastic on the front seat is probably due to too many pranksters scaring the wholly be-geezus out of the driver/s – with simulated knocking sounds and screaming sounds coming from the coffin. It’s much easier to hose down that interior than to replace it periodically. If that part of the hearse was redone to match the beauty of the rest of the car, it would become absolutely awesome. I wish I had the money to snap it up…..

    Like 15
    • Avatar photo LCL

      Arrghh you got the Harold and Maude reference in before I could.
      I loved the E-series hearse with the funeral urn etched in the rear glass.
      Was that car really wrecked for the movie?

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Al Dee

        I loved that car too. The movie industry finds junk hulks and makes them to look like the car they are suppose to wreck or destroy in the movie, and through some talented editing, the audience can’t tell the difference. I sure hope they didn’t destroy that car for the movie. Btw: I loved that movie – my kind of quirkiness….

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

        As a lover of old hearses and ambulances, for years I have placed Harold & Maude in my top 10 favorite movies. I’ve read plenty about the movie over the years, and somewhere I read that the actual E-type used in the movie had been in a very bad accident and written off. The movie production crew bought it cheap & had it crudely modified/restored to “Movie standards” [the interior was not finished, etc], and yes, it was the same car that was driven off the cliff, however it was NOT the same car as shown to Harold when his mother presented it to him.

        And since we are on the Harold & Maude topic, I will tell you the crazy way I first saw the movie.

        In late September 1972, when the movie first came out, I was in the US Army basic training program in Fort Knox, KY. My company was going on a forced march in full pack, but I had developed a high fever and was feeling very sick. I was told by my drill sargent no one was going to sick call that day, and about an hour later, in full gear, I lost consciousness, collapsing during the march, with what they later said was a 104 fever.

        I was helicoptered to Ireland Army Hospital* and diagnosed with double pneumonia. When I finally woke up I was in one of those clear vinyl plastic oxygen tents in a large hospital ward. Those tents have flexible vinyl panels that are quite wavy, and when looking thru the vinyl, things often appear distorted. Looking thru the tent’s vinyl side, what I first remember seeing was the movie Harold & Maude, showing on a big screen at the end of the ward, at the point in the movie where Harold created the Jaguar hearse. I kept drifting in & out of consciousness that evening, and the only thing I seem to remember were various parts of the movie.

        Due to my high fever affecting my mind, the waviness of the view out the tent, the crazy subject matter of the movie, and of my interest in old hearses, for several years I thought I had dreamt the whole thing! It wasn’t until Harold & Maude came out on VHS home video, that I realized it wasn’t a dream.

        * That helicopter ride was my one & only time I was in a helicopter, and dammit it, I was out cold, so I still don’t know what it’s like to ride in one!

        Like 5
      • Avatar photo Steve RM

        Harold and Maude is a great movie. My wife and I saw this movle when it
        first came out. And a few times since. Ruth Gordon was the best. I now have it DVD. I wouldn’t normally like an XKE being modified but when I saw this one it was love at first sight.

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo Steve

        If you love Ruth Gordon, you’ll love her in “Where’s Papa?’ Possibly the first movie about Alzheimer’s.

        Like 2
  6. Avatar photo TheOldRanger

    I liked the “normal” Kaiser, but this is just “too much” and not in a good way. I’ve never seen this model before, and wish I hadn’t seen this one.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Bob Mck

      I would love this in our collection. But not for 80K.

      Like 2
  7. Avatar photo Junior Samples

    If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all!

    Like 5
  8. Avatar photo Chris Cornetto

    It is amazing the amount of workmanship that has gone into funeral coaches over the decades. It is also sad how most end up. I am not really thinking about my last ride, I won’t remember it anyway..ha, ha, but this one here hits the “go out like royalty look”. There can be NO bumps or bruises as everything is non existent on this unit. Old hearses are cool. If you think Mustangs and Porches draw attention, roll up in a hearse. I have a 65 Cadillac one that I have owned longer than the funeral home that bought it new. It is a great car, very unique and fun. This fella belongs in a museum. I doubt many in the funeral profession could even drive it, no ac, the brakes ,standard shift, and how about turning backing it up or squeezing into the garage or knocking over a grave marker while in a cemetery. This would be like driving a primitive version of a stretch limo and lots of stopping distance even at 20 mph. This is a heavy weight here with a prehistoric brake system. A super cool and unique unit here that requires much careful care. I would be afraid to drive it just for the idiot factor. Definitely a museum piece that needs a big space.

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Boo Radley

    Three 1950s guys overheard talking about cars: First man “I’m gonna get a new Kaiser and surprise her.” Second man “I’m gonna get the new Frasier and amaze her.” Third man “I’m just gonna wait for the new Tucker.”

    Like 17
    • Avatar photo Jimmy Novak

      Frazer.

      Like 2
  10. Avatar photo Maggy

    The phrase “What the heck am I going to do with this” comes to mind.I could find countless other cars to blow 80k on I could actually have fun with and enjoy imo.I’ll pass.Cool story though and never saw one or knew these existed.Wonder how and why it got to the U.S. glwts.

    Like 9
  11. Avatar photo Mike B

    Make that canopy into a powered hard tonneau cover & wow the boys at Home Depot when you make a plywood run.

    Like 10
    • Avatar photo 67Firebird_Cvt Member

      I’d put a hot tub under it!

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Gary c

        I have a ‘67 Firebird conv Mayfield Maze (pale yellow) white top, seems just like yours, but someone put Cragars on it & will come off when I get Rally II stock wheels. Gary c

        Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Troy

    People import the weirdest cars, and this shows how ornate funeral cars get outside of the USA I can’t recall if it was here on BF or another site where a funeral car was profiled from Japan and it was very decorative. You would need a big garage for this one.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Steve

      I’ve viewed some incredibly ornate hearses from South America.

      Like 1
  13. Avatar photo Thomas L. Kaufman

    Those seat covers were made by Fingerhut. Beautiful Car!!!!!

    Like 4
  14. Avatar photo Kurt Member

    Um, camper for Steve King? Looks like a prop for “People Under The Stairs” .

    Like 5
  15. Avatar photo Bob19116

    Some interesting cars from that old Kaiser plant in Argentina. They made modified versions of Ramblers, Jeeps and Renaults post-Kaiser. They made an interesting modified version of the 1964/5 Rambler American I believe into the 1970’s and called it a Torino. A similar plant was in Australia. I forget which one was making AMC Javelins called Rambler Javelins and also Rambler Matadors etc.

    Like 4
  16. Avatar photo Old Man

    Perfect drive-in movie date car.

    Like 7
  17. Avatar photo Steve

    Where’s Gomez Addams when you need him?

    Like 7
  18. Avatar photo Upchucked

    Do not laugh when a hearse goes by…
    For you may be the next to …..

    Ah yes, memories from my ute!!

    Like 1
  19. Avatar photo Oy vey!

    There was an old man in a hearse,
    Who murmured, “This might have been worse;
    Of course the expense
    Is simply immense,
    But it doesn’t come out of my purse.”

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo Rick

      A nymphomaniacal nurse,
      With habits obscene and perverse,
      Stuck a rotary drill
      Up inside for a thrill
      And they carted her off in a hearse.

      Like 8
  20. Avatar photo Nelson C

    This would be the star car at the annual herse show up here in Hell Michigan.

    Like 7
  21. Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

    As I mentioned earlier in another Barn Finds story, I used to have a 1954 Kaiser Manhattan sedan in the 1980s, and at that time I was importing old cars from South America. I had planned on buying a similar hearse to the one shown here, not quite as nice and with a more modern casket “carport”, but it was too long to fit into a 20 ft shipping container. It was not a running vehicle having been in storage for a long time, so it had to be shipped in a container. The costs to ship it in a 40 ft container would have been more than the car cost, so I never bought it.

    I’m including a photo of the car I didn’t buy . . .

    Like 20
    • Avatar photo Kurt Member

      Would that be ….a hearse of a different color? Sorry, I just needed to re-hearse…

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Steve

        Kurt, double groan!

        Like 1
  22. Avatar photo LandYacht

    You will never see another one in your lifetime, just pony up and get it if you like it. Great find

    Like 6
  23. Avatar photo Henry Davis Member

    I know Jeepster Jim, he lives about 20 miles from me. I’m pretty sure he just acquired this car somehow and hasn’t done a lot of work to it. His standard of work is outstanding, and there are enough little things on this car that need attention.
    I’ve got a ’50 Kaiser Traveler, the first US hatchback. Their literature shows them as being used for ambulances, hearses and campers. But nothing as impressive as this! Looks great, but as somebody else said about it…whatcha gonna do with it? Guaranteed you’d be the only one at Cars and Coffee!

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Al Dee

      Well – I think it’s rather obvious: you rent it out to funeral homes – Halloween parades – Steven King – bizarre car shows, etc. However, a funeral home should snap it up and use it for offering a premium ole-timey funeral event.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Henry Davis Member

        I guess you could let your Goth Daughter drive it, she’d be a hit at the next Rave!

        Like 6
      • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

        I’ve known quite a few funeral home directors who own antique hearses, and they all tell me it’s very rare that families of the deceased want to use their beautiful vintage hearses. Typically it’s the now-deceased person who made the arrangements in advance, and that situation is quite rare.

        Hearses are very expensive when new, and after a few years their value plummets because few people outside of cheaper funeral homes want them. The directors want to charge the higher rate for a new hearse, in order to pay for it! So most directors want to use their own hearse and limousines. Plus, there is always the fear of the vintage vehicle breaking down during the drive to the cemetery.

        If you want your last ride in a specific brand or year hearse, I suggest you plan your own funeral in advance [but not so far in advance that the Hearse in question might not be owned by the same person years from now.]

        I still remember when about 40 years ago a close friend passed away early in life, and he wanted his last ride to be in a Henney-Packard hearse. His death was unexpected, and several friends in the Packard club scrambled to find an appropriate hearse. We did find one, but the day before the service the fuel pump failed, and I ended up taking the fuel pump off my Packard convertible so we could still use the hearse.

        Like 3
  24. Avatar photo AHAHA!

    It should have been called the Kaiser “Incredabela”.

    Like 1
  25. Avatar photo Old Man

    Let’s leave politics to the proper forum, please.

    Like 6
  26. Avatar photo Big C

    Wrong website, Hombre.

    Like 2
  27. Avatar photo Kurt Member

    Oh my.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Jimmy Novak

      Glad the limericks above passed muster, though.

      Like 3
  28. Avatar photo Kaiser Hearse

    This was my father’s car. It took him nearly a year to get it imported from Argentina. What is not shown, is the matching Flower Car that he purchased as well. They were both loaded into a 40 ft. shipping container, with the Flower Car mounted up at an angle, over the hearse. During shipping, the rigging broke, and the Hearse got slightly damaged. This was shortly after 911 and America was on high alert. At some point during shipping, a dock worker scribbled ‘bin laden’ in the dust on the hood of the car. During the Customs inspection in Long Beach CA. an agent noticed the ‘bin laden’ scrawled in dust and immediately sealed the container, and ordered it to be shipped to Customs in Savannah, GA. The cars sat in hot containers there for over 4 months, getting ‘cleared’. They arrived to my Dad’s home by rail, then semi-truck. When we opened the containers which were sealed by Customs, the stench of an insecticide nearly choked us. We saw the cars were slightly damaged. The FBI sent two agents the next day who put official seals on my dad’s storage garage, where the Hearse and Flower Car sat through a MN. winter. The Hearses engine froze, and then needed to be rebuilt. Once released in the Spring, my Dad set about restoring the cars. They were solid, and in very nice shape. He had them repainted, the stainless polished, the Chrome replaced, the engines tuned and worked on. There are actually 4 of the flame lights, I was the one who researched the original globes, and had them imported…a Christmas gift to my Dad. They are very odd to drive. Incredibly long is not the word. They are monstrous, and need a city block to turn around. Even ‘jockeying’ the cars, doesn’t work. We showed the cars together, with the Flower Car filled to the brim with flowers, the Urns on the Hearse with bouquets, and there are chrome brackets not shown, that hold a basket for a person’s name. They ran and drove beautifully. Plenty of power, but looooong. My Dad sold them to a man in the Chicago area who was an antique car collector as well as a funeral director. He finished some minor carb work, and for some reason removed all of the custom made long stainless steel thick trim work that runs along the bottom of the car, and forms a partial fender skirt on the rear wheel. My dad had those all re-polished and installed when he sold it. It looks naked and blah without them. The blue leather is actually in phenomenal condition. The ‘staining’ you see is just the plastic covers. The Argentinian leather is glove soft and rich with color. The covers kept them in beautiful shape. We miss them. And now wonder who owns the car or cars, and Ive heard its now on Barrett Jackson. I can tell you my Dad never got 80 grand for one car…

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Ted

      Hello!
      Im not sure if you will ever see this posting. But, I was going through old emails from BF and this caught my eye right away! Beautiful! What an ordeal your dad had to go through when having it shipped to the US!
      Do you have photos of the hearse with the chrome strip in place and the flower car? I can only image what they both looked like! Thanks, Ted

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Ted

      Hello again!
      I just did a Google search and I found a number of photos of both the hearse and flower car!
      Ted

      Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.