Sunday, September 4, 2011

His and Hearse; Going Out In Style

recent model Cadillac SUVthe Cadillac Escalade hearse is very similar to the big black Cadillacs people use for getting to work and shopping

I've noticed an awful lot of those bulky Cadillac Escalades around the city. In spite of their scale and capacity, inevitably they are occupied by only the driver.

The trend has been around for a few years, but a great many of these vehicles continue to be black. For the past 50 years that I've been around, "black Cadillac station wagon" has been synonymous with "hearse." Personally, having the choice, I would prefer not to be transported in one of these hearses, but perhaps my sensibility is overly delicate.

Apart from that, I am amazed that the drivers of these large vehicles seem to be unaware of any environmental impact in terms of manufacturing, fuel consumption, dissipation of heat, and wear and tear on roads. They also take up a lot of unnecessary space in a crowded world. I am at a loss to understand why people wish to make such grand statements at a time when more than ever, we must be aware of preserving resources and space.

Recently I watched the wonderful 1962 film, "The Light in the Piazza," with Olivia de Havilland. In one scene, she is driving along a verdant country road in Italy with Rossano Brazzi. The little Italian two seater convertible (perhaps a Fiat or Lancia) was incredibly chic, and almost humorously diminutive. In the film, these two characters are wealthy and worldly, and yet they looked stylish in what looked almost as tiny as a Smart Car.

What happened to modesty and charm in how we present ourselves in dress, deportment, transportation, and habitation? What happened to any sort of conscience in terms of caring for others and the world we live in?

Perhaps the drivers of black Cadillac Escalades and similar behemoths feel that they are going out in style. Personally, I'll leave the journey in the black hearse until my last earthly ride.


  1. Hello:
    What, indeed, happened to modesty and charm where motor cars are concerned? Grotesque vehicles, such as the ones you show here, are to be seen on every road in the UK in ever increasing numbers. And the fact that they are designed to be driven 'off road' makes them even more absurd. Of their owners, happily we know nothing.

  2. An interesting observation. Certainly anyone from pre-SUV days would have immediately identified the Cadillac Escalade as a hearse. The irony of these vehicles is that many people defend their purchase in the belief that the bigger, "stronger" cars are safer. My understanding is that such car hoods (that aren't designed to collapse upon impact) are actually more dangerous because the engine will be pushed back toward the driver.

  3. I am so glad you are back posting! I have missed your posts. What you say is so true! At one stage I thought we moving away from these big giants of cars whether they be Cadilacs or Fords! I guess driving a big car makes the driver feel important in this insecure world we live in. Give me a little MG Roadster or Fiat or Lancia any day. Why I would even take a Smart Car

  4. I am guilty of driving one of those "safer, stronger" cars. Not a hearse, it is more of a large tomato. A Chevy Suburban. I had 4 little kids and I was the Carpool Queen when my father-in-law got it for us. I was thrilled. I knew better when we got it, but I just did-not-care. I cared ONLY for crash/impact safety. And I was perhaps wrong about that anyway! Alas, only a few short years later, I am ALONE, driving around in what feels like my LIVING ROOM on wheels. I hate it. It is a constant embarrassment, it pollutes like crazy, and the cost...well,I don't feel important. I feel Stupid.

  5. As amazing as the hearse is above I have a completely unrelated question - I looked and looked for contact form or link and missed it if there is one. I was referred by another blog that featured your remarks on a collection of Tiffany catalogs. I'm trying to find out when Truex's design for "rock-cut" pattern crystal first made it into the catalog. It appears in Loring's books as early as 1983, but I think it must be a much earlier pattern.

    A lot of websites say Tiffany introduced it in 1994, and that is flat wrong. I'm trying to determine if Truex influenced, or was influenced by, german designers at Peill and Putzler, who manufactured crystal in this pattern.

    If you have catalogs, you hold a key to part of the mystery! If this is a question you can and are willing to answer, oh please, please do.
    Thank you and apology for the off topic reply