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Made in Arkansas: Morrilton company builds hearses with unusual twist

This week's 'Made in Arkansas' has an unusual twist. A Morrilton company allows people to take their last ride in style, literally.
PHOTOS: Rosewood Classic Coaches

MORRILTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- This week's 'Made in Arkansas' has an unusual twist. A Morrilton company allows people to take their last ride in style, literally.

"This is my grandfather's truck," said Richard Neal as he showed THV11 a cream and crimson hearse. Neal can't help but admire his 1972 Ford Pickup; he spent seven years remodeling it. "He [grandfather] bought it a few months after I was born. I learned to drive in it. It's the root of all of this."

Neal is talking about his most recent business venture. Since 1924, his family has been in the funeral home business in Arkansas, so Neal combined the family heritage with his love for cars and developed Rosewood Classic Coach. It's a unique idea where luxury knows no boundaries—a classy final ride, where the term "going out in style" drives his business.

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"We are currently the only company in the United States building a retro style funeral car from the ground up," Neal explained. He customizes them for funeral homes all over the country. However, the idea is also spreading internationally, and Neal's team is in the process of building two to send to Australia. "It makes me proud to bring something so unique and build something so unique in my hometown of Arkansas."

One model, the Grand O'Vale, combines automotive styling from the 1920s and 1930s with modern amenities. It features a seven foot oval window designed to help showcase the casket.

"We have had services where we have actually had trouble having graveside services because the families were taking pictures with the car rather than having the committal service," he admitted.

His cars are roughly 22 feet long, six feet tall, and weigh about 6,000 pounds. They typically take three to four months to build, but Neal is hoping to eventually speed up the process. He currently has 17 cars on back order.

The retro cars sell from $99,000 to $105,000. They're then typically rented out for $1,200. In addition to the hearses, he also builds retro style limos for the family. The client can customize it with a variety of options; special lighting, hidden bars, DVD players, sound systems, and etc.

"The ability to daydream, conjure up and create is really what drives me" concluded Neal.