FE / FC 2014 Holden Nationals in Tasmania
FE / FC 2014 Holden Nationals in Tasmania

1959 Holden FC Hearse comes back after 50 years

Hello, I have recently restored my 1959 FC Holden Hearse which originated from Springsure Queensland which is now housed in Melbourne. The hearse has recently been restored to what we believe to be original but now I'm seeking assistance from people that may remember this vehicle whilst in service and may have some literature or period photos still at hand.

To assist me in my research please feel free to pass this email on.

Holden FC Panel Van Hearse

Hearses were originally horse-drawn, but silent electric motorised carts were introduced as horses began to be phased out as transportation became more popular. The Australian hearse is a modified car built by a third party manufacturer. Generally the funeral home will buy a lower-mid range car, such as a Holden Commodore today, and get it modified by car customisation place.

In the old days unlike America no car companies existed in Australia making hearses, Instead the hearse was a regular car that has been modified. Funeral homes will buy a car form the dealer, then take it to a third party car modification place, such as Athol Hedges, to be turned into a hearse. They usually used a bottom end or mid-range vehicle.

In the instance of this FC Holden Hearse the major modification consisted of a raised floor with 3 rollers to push the coffin in and out, front bench seat was cut out so that longer coffins where able to be fitted. Whilst Gloss Black was unique to the hearses exterior paint the interior / rear compartment was painted white to highlight the coffin. The side supports where cut out for windows so that natural light and better viewing to the rear of the vehicle was achieved.

This Holden FC Panel Van Hearse was delivered on 2nd of March 1960 and the body work conversion by Athol Hedges commenced soon after.

Vehicle Info on Holden FC Panel Van Hearse:

Body Type: FC Panel Van - 10,089th manufactured in Adelaide, SA
Vehicle Assembly: assembled on October 1959, was the 25,432nd FC (in any body style) assembled in Brisbane, Queensland.
Exterior trim: single-tone High Gloss Black
Interior trim: Fall Red

Body Work Converted by Athol Hedges:

Athol Hedges PTY LTD was a Queensland leading commercial body builder located on Melton Road, Northgate, Brisbane. Austral was originally formed as Athol Hedges and It was later renamed Domino Hedges then Domino before becoming Austral in 1982 when purchased by the Australian Manufacturing Group. It originally bodied buses diversifying into integral buses and coaches (body and chassis) in the 1970s. Other known conversions where also done on cars, car canopies and caravans.

Original Vehicle Owner was the Shire of Bauhinia 1960 to 1987:

The selling GMH Dealer that sold this hearse was Springsure Motors located in Springsure. Springsure is a small town in Queensland, 66 km south of Emerald on the Gregory Highway. It is 765 km northwest of Brisbane.

The Shire of Bauhinia was a local government area in Central Queensland, Queensland, Australia. The Shire, administered from the town of Springsure, covered an area of 23,649.6 square kilometres (9,131.2 sq mi), and existed as a local government entity from 1879 until 2008.

• 2nd owner, Roy Rogers 1987 to 1989
Roy purchased the FC Hearse at auction for $4000 which came directly from Springsure. When purchased Roy recalls the car only having 2000 miles on the odometer.

• 3rd owner, Unknown (lived on the Gold Coast) Whilst the owner is still unknown it was said the person drove the FC Hearse from Brisbane to the Gold Coast. The original hearse fittings where removed and the rear interior of the vehicle was painted black to cover the white.

• 4th owner, Bruce Wilson from Melbourne purchased the FC hearse mid to late 1990's with less than 8,000 on the odometer. Bruce purchased the vehicle from a car show room on the Gold Coast and had it trucked down to Mornington where it remained in storage with very little use. The original hearse fittings where shipped down separately and had remained separated from the car for over 23 years. During this time the FC had been taken to several car events with the FE/FC car club without the hearse fittings fitted.

• 5th owner, Joe Galea of Melbourne has owned this vehicle since March 2013 and has since meticulously detailed the entire vehicle and re fitted the original period Athol Hedges Hearse conversion equipment back into the FC hearse. The interior of the hearse conversion has been re painted by using the period colour tones (acrylic white) and the exterior of the vehicle (gloss black) has only been polished without having to re paint.

This very unique low mileage FC Holden Panel Van Hearse with an odometer reading of 8,700 original miles is in remarkable condition for its age and is certainly a unique piece of Australian history. Now only used for club events and personal use, It's not often vehicles of this sort remain intact with their original period fittings so I have to give credit to its past owners for their interest in keeping the hearse fittings together for all to admire together today.

If you know of any history or have any questions or information please feel free to contact me (Joe Galea) directly on 0415686282 or joegalea1971@gmail.com.

Kind regards,
Joe Galea

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