Laurel Hill Cemetery has a hot rod hearse with the previous owner still inside

The historic Laurel Hill East cemetery in Philadelphia, overlooking the Schuylkill River, has a fleet of vehicles, including dozens utility carts, backhoes, excavators, hearses, and town cars.

But the one car that most people want to take a picture of is the 1947 Pontiac Superior hearse painted deep purple and trimmed with chrome bones. Called FYNLRYD, it has found its forever home parked just inside the gates of Laurel Hill East.

“Every now and again I would stop at Wawa for a coffee, and one night I come out to ten people standing around taking pictures,” said Laurel Hill superintendent Peter “Billy” Doran. “It’s a fantastic conversation piece.”

Billy Doran, the superintendent of Laurel Hill Cemetery, takes a seat behind the wheel of FYNLRYD, the purple hot rod hearse bequeathed to the cemetery by Russ Slegel. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The hearse is a hot rod modified with a 1976 Cadillac stub frame with a roaring 500 cubic inch V8 engine. The engine hoses are sleeved in royal purple to match the plush interior. A final ride deserves a banging sound system: FYNLRYD sports a 200-watt stereo system with 8” subwoofers.

It was babied by its previous owner, Russ Slegel, of Oley in Berks County. He worked on the car for years and showed it off at car shows, particularly the annual show of vintage hearses staged at Laurel Hill by the Mohnton Car Club, for which Slegel had been president.

  • September 3, 2023
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