The Sad Story of the Hearse and the 6 door Stretched Limousine.
In 2003 the Vintage Motor Company of Doncaster (who acquired the Windsor and Sabre UK rights from the Royale Motor Company in 2002) received a substantial £500,000 order from Barry AlbinDyer of FA ALBIN & Sons, the major London Funeral Directors. This was to both develop and manufacture a fleet of period, dignified, unique vehicles to replace their aging fleet. They did not want them to be replaced with modern equivalents. There would be five stretched six- door limousines along with two three- door matching hearses, their coach work finished in gleaming black and dark maroon with a gold coach line.
Royale Windsor 6 door LWB Limousine at the Vintage Motor Co Works
Royale Windsor 6 door LWB Limousine (Designer’s impression)
The Limo would be built on a new chassis mainly using the Royale Windsor GRP body parts, but lengthening the body and adding 2 more doors, allowing access to an extra row of seats.
The hearse would be an amalgamation of the Royale Windsor’s front end with a bespoke rear body, the GRP mould being taken from an old 1930’s Rolls Royce hearse supplied by the undertaker.
Albin were unwilling to have now tired old Granada V6 engines powering their vehicles and due to the additional weight it was decided to import Ford V6 4.0 litre mechanicals from America.
However, amongst other problems the steering column containing the steering wheel airbag was discovered to be banned from importation due to it containing explosives.
Designer impression of the Royale Windsor Hearse
The potential of the project was obvious, and thus resulted in the award of a £100,000 European Union development grant in the summer of 2004.
However, progress was painfully slow as only two operatives were allocated to the task of building the prototypes, resulting in the planned production schedule being continually pushed back.
VMC were by now getting deeper and deeper into cash flow problems and in May 2005 ownership of the factory premises were transferred to All Occasions Hire Ltd, a business hiring out wedding cars and owned by the managing director’s family.
The following month the Vintage Motor Company fell into the hands of the receiver owing hundreds of thousands of pounds to suppliers and disappointed customers. Some customers had paid up to two-thirds of the purchase price and were now were now deprived of their vehicles.
Having invested over half million pounds, Albins was at the top of the list of creditors, however it is believed they received nothing. Apart from the many suppliers and customers awaiting their vehicles, the other casualties were the seventeen loyal staff, who all lost their jobs.
Though there were interested parties at the time, no one was willing to invest the money to take the project on and so the hearse and the stretched limo never reached the production stage. However, the 6 door Limousine prototype found its way to the Royale Winsor Motor Co in Northern Ireland
where development is on ice.
So what about the fate of the hearse I hear you say?
Well ……………. it was never to be seen again.
P.S. Search “Barry Albin-Dyer Funeral” on YouTube to see the Jaguar Wilcox 6 door limousines and the Rolls Royce hearse. Also watch the “Don’t Drop The Coffin” TV Series which features Albins.
With grateful thanks to Neil of neilwhitedesign, Doncaster and Albins for their invaluable help, contribution and photographs.