||1:18 Precision Miniatures 1938 Cadillac Carved Panel Hearse
1:18 Precision Miniatures 1938 Cadillac Carved Panel Hearse
Not content with last year’s ghoulishious 1959 Cadillac hearse offering, Precision Miniatures has now added a gloriously gothic 1938 Carved Panel Hearse to their fleet of Cadillac working cars.
Hearses were originally horse drawn vehicles that featured ornate wood carvings on the sides (after all the “passenger” had little need for a window.) This was also a handy way of identifying the hearse in a funeral procession. With the advent of the automobile, nothing distinguished the normal passenger car and wagon from the guest of honor’s ride. So, in 1929 the Sayers & Scovill company re-invented the carved window tradition producing the industry's first carved panel or "Art Carved" hearse.
The style caught on and continued to develop throughout the 30’s. Carved panels might still be made of wood, but could also be fabricated using stamped aluminum panels. Eventually the lack of versatility, trendiness of design and high maintenance cost (imagine having to wax the carved art with old fashioned Carnuba) doomed the carved panel hearse. With the advent and popularity of landau covers, the art carved hearse faded into memory.
What Precision Miniatures has for us here is a great replica that is gothic art deco a-go-go on wheels.
The body and chassis for this model are based on a Cadillac LaSalle. The model checks in a hair under 13”, so it’s massive yet short enough to be a baby brother to last year’s 1959 Cadillac Hearses and Ambulances. It’s glossy-wet black paint is gorgeous and perfectly reflective. What further highlights this deep starless black is the polished chrome accents and trim. The detail around the unusual side mounted spare tire housings is especially well done. The car’s stance is just right – sitting significantly taller than last years hearses on wide whitewall tires and badged moon wheels.
The front grille is mesh screen. While some historical information identifies the chassis as LaSalle, the radiator grille would indicate it’s styling are more closely related to the Fleetwood of the era. Dig the purple Funeral light under the front headlight and notice attention to detail in even the most mundane elements like parking lights, badging and even the hood ornament. Lift the hood and a fully plumbedV-16 Engine greets you, complete with chrome steel support bars. Notice the vehicle identification plate bolted to the firewall. The chassis is reasonably well done, nothing incredibly detailed but more than I expected in a model that, like a Hooter’s waitress, is all about topside and rear end.
In a styling cue that also echoes the age of carriages, the driver’s compartment has a landau-style top which can be popped off giving the car a Victorian format. The interior is all red plush carpeting which nicely offsets the blond-colored wood and metal dashboard and ivory white steering assembly. Chrome and white handles are also accurately done on the interior door, featuring a small handle for the front quarter window (don’t you miss having those?). There’s even a look-in window so you can check the cargo (or, in a bizarre twist, perhaps vice versa). The driver compartment doors open fully and loosely, which is no real detriment to the model, but can surprise you if you aren’t expecting it. One of my favorite details is, of all things, the fabulous chrome accented grooved running boards. Shut lines are super tight.
The chrome sconce and art carvings on the rear quarter panels are accurate though done in plastic, not steel or wood. Compared to models of the real thing, they look historically correct. Open the rear hatch (complete with top mounted closer) and the model’s single best feature unveils itself: the wood interior, completely detailed, complete with stanchions and inlaid arch windows and the wood service tray which holds the casket and pulls in and out with the gentlest of touch.
The model comes with a church tray and wood casket.
If you are in to art deco period and 30s cars then this is definitely a model for you. And if you’ve been in a buying slump because all of a sudden everything “new” seems to have been done before and you’re waiting for a model with a little somethin’ somethin’ – that’s got that bit of edge to it – then get thee to a diecast dealer because this car is heaven in 1/18 scale. Now if it only came with interchangeable torque thrust wheels. (Continued reading below)