Skip to main content

Yes, you can take it with you. Your favorite car, that is. We’ve all heard about people being buried in a car or truck rather than just a pedestrian coffin. Especially in Africa, the internet is rife with stories about loved ones requesting they be buried in this or that vehicle. 

Are these car coffin stories real?

Grandpa Munster's Dragula
Grandpa Munster’s Dragula coffin dragster | Getty

But some of these car coffin stories are pretty sketch-at least according to the New York Times. Like the Nigerian man who was buried in a BMW in 2018. His son purchased it specifically for the burial, and there are pictures of it in the ground. But while the images were real, this isn’t what was happening. They were shot while filming a scene for the movie “Social Club.” 

Then there’s the story of a wealthy man in Brazil burying his Bentley in preparation for the day he died. The time and day of the car burial in São Paulo were blasted over social media. Naturally, the press, and the curious, showed up. The businessman even posed next to the car with a shovel. 

But it was all a publicity stunt to inspire organ donations. “It is absurd to bury bodies, which can save many lives,” as reported by the Irish Times. “Nothing is more valuable. Be a donor, tell your family.” 

Some car coffin requests are really real

Car coffin carrier
Mortician Sille Kongstad moves a coffin using a bicycle funeral car | Getty

But some are really real, though details become more exaggerated over time. An oil heiress named Sandra Ilene West wanted to be buried in her 1964 Ferrari, one of several she owned. She died in 1977, at the age of 38. The burial took place at the Alamo Masonic Cemetary in San Antonio. The site is well known because it has attracted the curious for years.

Supposedly, she was buried in a 330 America, a 12-cylinder Ferrari for sure. But not the most beloved in a long line of desirable Ferraris. That didn’t matter to Sandra, as it was supposedly her favorite of the bunch. 

Unfortunately, it was involved in an accident a few months before she died. So images of the burial show only a gray concrete box. Ms. West and the Ferrari were sealed inside “to deter anyone from digging it up.” As if. In Texas, and elsewhere, it is completely legal to be buried in something other than a casket. 

The Ferrari she was buried in had a history

1968 Ferrari 330 America
1968 Ferrari 330 America | Getty

According to the Ferrari Registry, the touring car was originally purchased new by TV producer Burt Sugarman. Though delivered painted Grigio Notte, Sugarman was known for having his Ferrari’s painted candy apple red metal flake by George Barris. 

Sugarman did meet Ms. West, and related to the NY Times she gushed about the car, telling him she wanted to be buried in it. “She was a piece of work,” he said. 

Stevie Ray Vaughan wrote a song about a “Cadillac coffin”

Willie Stokes Jr.
Willie Stokes Jr. in his coffin | Getty

Remember the song “Willie the Wimp” by Stevie Ray Vaughan? It includes lyrics about his “Cadillac coffin.” That song is based on the burial of Willie Stokes Jr in 1984, who had a coffin made to resemble a Cadillac Seville. 

In 1989, Hoosier Aurora Schuck was buried in her 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. Remember those? They were to be the last year GM would produce a convertible, ever. It took 16 gravesites to fit all of the Eldo into the ground. 

George Swanson had his ashes buried in his 1984 Corvette in a suburb of Pittsburgh in 1994. And in 2009, Lonnie Holloway got his wish to be buried in his 1973 Pontiac Catalina in South Carolina. 


Prince Philip Designed Land Rover Hearse Carrying His Coffin