Tuesday, December 7, 2021

MENU

RV Review: Vintage Airstream Funeral Coach

I normally like to write about new RVs here, but I found one you might be dying to know about. You see, the folks at Airstream found themselves with an issue in the late 1970s – a coach market that was in serious decline. In fact, it was pretty dead at the dealerships for the company’s then-new motorhomes. 

And that makes sense. In the late 1970s, just as the new Airstream products were about to drop, a second oil embargo happened. So the big, heavy, silver boxes with their Chevrolet 454 V8 engines weren’t at the top of a lot of people’s shopping lists. 

So the company’s brass thought outside the box. Well, outside certain boxes, because they designed an Airstream to carry a very specific box – a coffin. Then they also added seating for 14 of the guest of honor’s favorite people and created the Airstream Funeral Coach. 

This nifty motorhome allowed for a one-vehicle funeral procession, depending on how popular the decedent was. Instead of two limousines and a hearse and the three or four professionals it took to drive those, one individual could motor this machine down the road while the 14 guests sat in airline-style seats as well as a large U-shaped couch. 

In other words, this motorhome gave traditional hearses and limousines stiff competition. Still, it’s good that the funeral parlors found themselves coffin up less cash with one of these as opposed to three traditional vehicles. 

So, while this beast still got lousy fuel economy, it was better than driving three big Cadillacs down the road. And, at $85,000, it was cheaper than three big Cadillacs, as well. 

Plenty of room in the Airstream Funeral Coach

Not only was there room for the guest of honor’s 14 living friends and family, but the back of this machine opened wide to swallow 20 baskets of flowers. 

Even though the idea made a lot of sense, these didn’t fly off the shelves, as some people are haunted by change. Only about 32 of these were built from 1981–1991, and one turns up for sale every once in a while. They tend not to sell quickly, though, as people are spooked by anything related to the funeral industry. 

However, if you’re dying to see one, you can visit the forthcoming Airstream Heritage Center when it opens. It’s been a bit delayed, though, as pulling this off is quite an undertaking. 

Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!

##RVT1024b

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Bad puns in article
Grave use of jokes

SUMMARY

In the early 1980s Airstream offered a motorhome that didn't sell all that well, so they expanded their reach and created a model for funerals call the Airstream Funeral Coach.

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paul
1 month ago

I remember this! There was one in front of a funeral home not too far from my neighborhood growing up. It seemed like it never moved from it’s space though lol

Lindalee
1 month ago

Ah, Tony! I think I like you and enjoy your review because you remind me of my father (he was born in 1909 and is LONG dead)! You have the exact same sense of humor that he did! I LOVED my daddy – so, ergo, I like you too!!

DickHertz
1 month ago

I’m dying to try it.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
1 month ago
Reply to  DickHertz

😆 Good one, DickHertz! Have a good evening. 🙂 –Diane

Capt. Jim
1 month ago

I’ve never gotten tired of puns…until now!

tom
1 month ago

An upfitter for the GMC Motorhome, using a Transmode Model, did the same project. The genset was removed, and the coffin was slid into it’s place, across the width of the coach.
Setting replaced the interior layout.
Many GMC Transmodes were given special interiors to meet customer needs.