Introducing Hearse+ for bereaved people who like to drive themselves

Charles 19 Comments

James Hardcastle of The Carriagemaster has enjoyed ‘strong successes’ with his self-drive hearse, a venture to which the teeming team here at the GFG-Batesvile Shard has given its unanimous and enthusiastic backing. No one ever went wrong, we like to say (over and over, the record shows), who sought to find ways to empower the bereaved. What’s more, we’ve met James and we think he is not just a good egg but an unimpeachable egg and a very astute businessperson. 

James has now launched what he calls Hearse+

It’s a Ford Galaxy private ambulance/removal vehicle (pictured above) in which 4 family members can drive their person who’s died on their last journey on Earth. They can spend as long as they want and take any route they want so long as they get to the ceremony venue on time. 

One of James’s people will drive the hearse to the family, give them a short course in driving it, and lob them the keys. 

Fuller detail here: Hearse+ Features and Benefits. The cost is around half that of a conventional hearse driven by someone else. 

If you’ve any questions for James, contact him or, if you would like him to respond publicly, leave a comment below. 

It goes without saying that the GFG has no commercial relationship with The Carriagemaster. 


  1. Charles

    Galaxies are brilliant – ours has been a great investment, and we use it for about 60% of the funerals we arrange. They are discreet and flexible. They are perfect for funerals of babies and children because the family can sit either side of the coffin. They work well as hearses for anyone who doesn’t want to parade through the streets. They are very good removal vehicles.

    The only thing that puts me off is the price. ‘From £29’ looks suspicious to me. As does the 0845 number. The PDF doesn’t give a location (although the website says East Yorkshire), and it would cost more than £29 in fuel to get to and from many parts of the country. Plus travelling time for the employee who takes it to the client, and waiting time while they take ‘any route they want’. I suspect the final bill could be a whole lot higher than £29?

    1. Charles

      Valid questions Andrew – please let me explain further.

      The Carriage Master operates nationally and works with both funeral directors and families throughout the country. We are based in Howden and have vehicle holding sites in Baldock, Retford, Huddersfield and Scarborough.

      There is no need to be ‘suspicious’ of the 0845 number Andrew – it enables us to provide 24/7 support to our customers and makes customer call handling more efficient for all concerned.

      The daily hire rate for Hearse+ is £29 per calendar day when collected from one of our sites. We deliver and collect vehicles and charge for the convenience this offers – which is standard practice within the vehicle hire arena.

      The Carriage Master undertake rigorous customer satisfaction surveys (anonymously) from all customers and I am proud to boast that we continue to score 100% for value for money.


      James Hardcastle

  2. Charles

    Agreed, too cheap! As a flexible friendly FD, my hearse or Mercedes people mover can be rented for in Southern England. Only last week, for £100, I rented a Chapel of Rest for a morning to a Hindu family. Enlightened funeral firms will help families, not just sell them a package funeral.

  3. Charles

    Certainly an excellent idea, and one that will fulfill many a families’ wishes. I have my reservations regarding the price though. To hire a hearse with driver costs around £120 for a couple of hours. To hire a decked Galaxy to a family who might want to take auntie Flo halfway across the country for £29 strikes me as being the bargain of the century.

    I’m not knocking it in any way. I operate 3 Galaxies, and as Andrew points out, they are cracking vehicles. But, I can’t make the “math” work at £29 per day – and make any sort of profit. (Guess that “from” comes into play early on?)

    Good luck James, I sincerely hope it works out – but I’d be inclined to check the battery on your calculator…


    1. Charles

      Thanks Nick – the calculator is solar-powered which given the weather…

      Please do not confuse this with traditional hearse hire. This is a self-drive hire proposition so the only thing we are providing to the family is the Galaxy itself for the £29.


  4. Charles

    Interesting concept. It’s probably not for everyone, but given the budget conscious nature of consumers, the state of the economy and the high costs associated with a traditional funeral I can definitely see a niche market for this. Plus, driving a Ford is second nature to most people.

    I guess the £29 is for the very basic collection and hire of the vehicle from the depot only in the same way traditional private vehicle hire with say Hertz works.

  5. Charles

    I am also guessing that the £29 is for hire only and that any petrol used is paid for by the client, be it FD or family, which I presume sorts out the problems with the calculator?

  6. Charles

    Why’s everyone getting confused about the price? The simple thing is to ring the telphone number and ask how much to hire it wherever you happen to be. If it’s too expensive, don’t hire it, and if it seems to cheap to be true, it’s not your problem!

    May well be in touch in due course, James, I think it’s a brilliant idea and all power to your turbo. Meanwhile, hope your calculators are overheating with finger power!

  7. Charles

    The list price of a new Galaxy is £24,800. Let’s say you sweet-talk the salesman and get it down to £20K. At £29 a day, that means it’s got to go out 690 times before it breaks even, and that’s before tax, insurance and all the other nasties that go with a vehicle. As Nick says, it’s difficult to make the maths work.

    I too think it’s a great idea, it’s just the “from” I’m not keen on, in a world where we are striving for open pricing.

  8. Charles

    Your numbers are way off-beam Andrew – I never normally share commercial numbers, but will do to draw a line under the complete cynicism shown to the idea.

    I can bulk purchase a pre-registered Ford Galaxy for £14,135.08 – which will sit as an asset on the company’s balance sheet for 36 months. After those 36 months, the vehicle will go to auction where strong residuals will see it return circa £8,000.

    Therefore, the true ‘cost’ of that vehicle is actually £6,135.08 (not the £20k you mentioned) over 36 months – or £2,045.03 per annum.

    At a daily rental this equates to a break-even point of 70.52 days per annum – just over one hire per week to become profitable…

    Can we achieve two bookings per week on these vehicles? Hopefully so. Will we have a damn good go at doing this? Definitely will. Will it provide warmth and comfort to families – feedback tells me it will…

    As I draw a veil over this response, I would like to thank everyone for their kind words of support and for sharing in the vision and to pose a question to Andrew directly: if you’re having to sweet-talk salesman in retail dealerships – can we help you with your vehicle purchasing requirements?

  9. Charles

    With a clear head this morning, and before rather than after a long day’s work, the difference is obvious.

    James, you are seeing ‘break-even’ as the cost of leasing, whereas I am seeing it as the cost of buying. In your scenario, you need £14K to start with, and at the end of your 3 years you have £8K, but you don’t have a vehicle. In order to keep your business running, you have to spend the money again on another vehicle.

    In my ‘hypothetical’ business plan above, yes I need £20K to start with, but I want to recoup the full cost of that during its useful life, which is more than three years (I hope!)

    So, both valid business plans, seen from different perspectives. Nothing at all wrong with that. Respected names in the funeral vehicle business are commenting on the facebook page on the same subject saying it’s too cheap and clarity of pricing is needed, I guess, as I said in the very first post, and others have also picked up, it’s that pesky word “from” that causes the uncertainty.

    I wish you luck with the venture James, honestly. With humbleness, I have to admit that the post made me wonder if the £100 for which I hire out my Galaxy (with driver, admittedly, and fuel) was too high, but I’ve decided it’s not.

    And in response to your kind offer, yes, please do feel free to quote me. Could this be the first sale made on the GFG blog? Is that allowed Charles? 🙂

  10. Charles

    This seems like a spiffing idea to me – I didn’t realise you FDs hired out your vehicles, people and/or premises ad hoc! I feel very encouraged to start helping people to do their own funerals now I am seeing resources like these available.

  11. Charles

    I can’t see why anyone would refuse? Business is business.

    As for the Galaxy – it really is a cheap vehicle to hire, my local lowest cost car rental company charge more than that daily rate for their smallest car.

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