The Historic Journey of the 1966 Cadillac Superior Royale Hearse
This 1966 Cadillac Superior Royale Hearse (Martin Luther King Jr.’s hearse) was last seen for sale for in Alexandria, Louisiana for $100,000.
Hearse archive – Not for sale
The 1966 Cadillac Superior Royale Hearse is more than a vehicle; it’s a piece of history with a story that spans decades. Originally delivered to R.S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home in Memphis, Tennessee, this Cadillac hearse embarked on a journey that would forever link it to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Vehicle of Significance
In 1966, Memphis Superior Hearse Representative Mr. Zane Smith presented R.S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home with their new 1966 Cadillac Superior Royale Hearse. Little did they know that this hearse would play a pivotal role in history.
A Fateful Day
On April 4, 1968, tragedy struck when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. That same night, Dr. King’s body found its final resting place in this very hearse. It became the exclusive transportation for Dr. King’s body while in Memphis.
A Historic Journey
The hearse made its poignant final trip, carrying Dr. King’s body to the airport, where an awaiting plane, provided by Robert Kennedy, would carry him away on April 5th. Following this historic moment, the hearse returned to its regular service at R.S. Lewis and Sons until the late spring of 1969.
A Legacy Continues
Mr. Smith, a major supporter of African-American rights organizations, continued to provide services using the hearse for prominent African American and Civil Rights figures. In 1969, the hearse was traded back to Mr. Smith for a newer model.
For nearly 40 years, the hearse remained hidden from public view in the company’s warehouse, under Mr. Smith’s care.
A Tragic Turn
In 2006, negotiations to purchase the hearse halted due to the tragic death of Chad Alan DeRamus in a plane crash. Chad’s father, Jimmie DeRamus, resumed negotiations in 2007.
A Dream Realized
On December 1, 2007, Jimmie DeRamus purchased the hearse, marking the first step toward Chad’s dream of restoring it to its original glory.
The restoration journey began in Alexandria, Louisiana, in December 2007, under the guidance of Mr. Zane Smith. Original period materials and parts were carefully sought out to return the hearse to its appearance on April 4th and 5th of 1968.
On November 12, 2010, Dr. King’s 1966 Cadillac hearse was reunited with Mr. Zane Smith and Mr. R.S. Lewis, the only two men to have owned the vehicle since new.
In January 2011, Dr. King’s hearse was shown to the public for the first time at Chad Alan DeRamus’ hometown in Alexandria, Louisiana, on Dr. King’s birthday.
A Permanent Home
Today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s hearse resides at Silver Dollar Pawn and Jewelry Center in Alexandria, Louisiana, as part of their extensive Civil Rights Collection when not on educational tours across the country.
The 1966 Cadillac Superior Royale Hearse is a symbol of history, civil rights, and the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Its journey from the funeral home to the annals of history is a testament to its significance in the Civil Rights Movement.
This 1966 Cadillac Superior Royale Hearse was last seen for sale for $100,000.00 in Alexandria, Louisiana, USA.