Call us 24 hours a day on:

0800 456 1047

Funeral transport and hearse alternatives

When planning a funeral, one of the things you’ll need to consider is transport - both for the coffin and for friends and family members. Dignity has a fleet of hearses, funeral cars and limousines available. These traditional funeral vehicles will be chauffeur driven by one of our trained funeral directors. They can be personalised with coloured ribbons and a range of tributes, from floral arrangements to something more unusual.

When planning a funeral, people are increasingly aiming to create a memorable event that truly reflects the life of the person who has died. For many, this means choosing transport that fits their personality or interests - from campervans for adventurers or surfers, cycle-powered hearses for those concerned about the environment to motorbike corteges for keen bikers.

With 800 funeral directors around the UK, we have experience in supplying a range of different funeral vehicles. Our team share their insights and advice, to help you to make a decision.

This section shows some of the ways, we have helped our clients in the past create beautiful, bespoke send-offs for their loved one.

Our examples include:

Image Description

We're here to help, whenever you may need us

and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call us any time of day on:

0800 456 1047

Fire engine hearses

Whether you are looking for a fitting send-off for someone who has worked for the emergency services, or for a child who had a love of fire engines, we can provide either vintage and contemporary vehicles as an alternative to a traditional funeral hearse. We can even source firefighter uniforms for the funeral director and pallbearers, to create a truly fitting service.

“I arranged the funeral of a young boy who had always dreamed of being a fireman. Our funeral arranger, Emma, worked with a local fireman to organise a fire engine to lead the procession with blue lights all the way to the church. This personalisation brought a huge amount of joy to the family despite the terrible circumstances.”

Ben, Funeral Director

Personalised Fire Engine | Dignity Funerals

Flatbed lorries, tractors and commercial vehicle hearses

For someone who had a love of tractors, lorries or construction vehicles, these can make unusual but fitting alternatives to traditional funeral cars. While these can be arranged yourself, it is best to speak to your funeral director, who is likely to have sourced a range of vehicles in the past. They will have the knowledge and experience to ensure that the vehicle is equipped to carry the coffin safely and securely, as well as being aware of any regulatory hurdles that might need to be overcome.

“The person who had died was a long-distance lorry driver. As he’d spent so much of his life on the road - a job which he loved - his family felt it was fitting to use a flatbed lorry to transport him to the funeral. We worked with the haulage firm to take care of the arrangements and create a fitting tribute of lorries travelling in procession along the motorway.”

Helen, Funeral Director.

“During Lockdown, a gentleman passed away in one of the local villages close to Ely. Sadly, restrictions meant that people couldn't gather in a conventional way to show their respects. We arranged to have his coffin placed on the back of a 40ft low loader trailer and I walked the entire village to enable the locals to pay their respects in a socially distanced and COVID-safe way.”

Joseph, Funeral Director.

A flatbed lorry for Neil Sharp's funeral | Dignity Funerals

How we personalised a funeral for Neil Sharp

“I worked with the family of a local businessman who ran his own skip hire company. The family wanted his final journey to be on the back of a skip. We dressed the skip truck in faux grass and made sure that the coffin had a platform to rest upon. The bit that really stood out was when the skip truck pulled into the skip yard - the other trucks in the fleet did a guard of honour with the arms of their skip truck. You could really see how much it meant to everyone involved. It’s unconventional, but it certainly isn’t unheard of, or impossible.”

Annette, Funeral Director

Read more about this memorable funeral and how the family arranged to have a skip lorry modified as a hearse, as told by Funeral Director David Pedelty.

Camper van hearses

When arranging a funeral for someone who had a sense of adventure, a love of the outdoors, or was a regular at music festivals, a campervan can be a light-hearted and memorable alternative to a traditional hearse or funeral car. Whether they were a lover of old Volkswagen campervans, an enthusiast, collector or just someone who liked their iconic style, we can source a campervan hearse to suit.

The vans themselves are specially adapted to create a platform for the coffin and can also be decorated with ribbons and flowers. It’s an option that really allows you to personalise the funeral and make it memorable.

“As well as raising a smile for those gathered at the funeral, the vans can be used to signify the traditional committal process, which is usually signified by the closing of curtains or lowering of the coffin. Instead, mourners can wave the van off as it drives away into the sunset, which can be a lovely way to say goodbye and a nice image for everyone to take away with them.”

Rachael, Funeral Director

Camper van hearse | Dignity Funerals

Bus hearse and funeral transport

Using a bus as a hearse or funeral transport is much the same idea as using a campervan - with a special platform for the coffin and the floral tributes. However, the key difference is that a bus is also large enough to carry family and friends.

Talking to our funeral arrangers, they’ve seen buses used as funeral transport in three different ways. Firstly, to carry a coffin just as a traditional hearse would. Secondly, to carry family, friends and loved ones. Thirdly, to allow family and friends to travel with the coffin.

For some, this gives extra reassurance on the day.

Bus hearse, funeral transport | Dignity Funerals

Motorbike hearses

If your loved one was a biker, with a love of the open road, then sending them on their final journey in a car might not feel as personal. We can arrange for a motorbike hearse - with either a sidecar or a towing hearse - to transport your loved one.

“We arranged a funeral for a young lad who was tragically killed on his motorbike. His parents requested for his model motorbike to be the design of his coffin so we arranged to have a bespoke design made. When he first passed his test to ride, he used to go out with his Mom, and they used to ride their bikes together. We arranged a motorcycle hearse and I asked Mom if she would like to ride pillion to accompany her son on his final journey. She was delighted to be asked. The last stretch of road to the crematorium increases to 50mph and it was agreed that during that last stretch we would exceed our usual sedate speed!”

Emma, Funeral Director

A motorbike hearse | Dignity Funerals

TV and film inspired hearses

With many TV programmes and movies attracting a cult following, it’s not unusual to be asked to source cars that fit a theme.

“People are increasingly likely to ask for funeral cars that suit the personality of the person who has died. I conducted a funeral where the deceased was a big fan of Only Fools and Horses - the family wanted to reflect his sense of humour in the funeral. We sourced a replica of Del Boy’s bright yellow Robin Reliant. It might not be the transport that would spring into everyone’s head for a funeral but, for this family, it was perfect. It definitely raised a smile and provoked some fond memories.”

Rachael, Funeral Director

TV & Film inspired hearses | Dignity Funerals

Horse-drawn hearses

Perhaps not considered an unusual choice, horse-drawn hearses are a timeless classic with a nod to past times. Traditionally pulled by black horses with nodding plumes of ostrich feathers, the carriages are usually ornate black vehicles that fit with both traditional and modern funerals. However, horses drawn hearses can also be personalised - for example being styled to look like princess carriages, pulled by white horses and surrounded by pink ribbons.

“I conducted the funeral of a young girl with a love of unicorns and all things pink. We arranged to have white horses, pulling a carriage decked in pink ribbons. For an extra special touch, the horses had unicorn horns made - a really touching tribute to the little girl and her unicorn fascination.”

Duncan, Funeral Director

A horse-drawn hearse | Dignity Funerals

Choosing funeral transport, our top tips

Don’t be afraid to ask:

When personalising a funeral, it can be easy to feel that you need to reign in your plans. For some, this is because of assumptions that what you want isn’t possible. For others, it’s nervousness about straying too far from convention. The reality is, there are a huge number of options out there and your local funeral director is likely to have heard it all.

“30 years ago, the most unusual request we would get was to sing a song that the organist didn’t know. These days, people personalise funerals to the same extent that they personalise other big life events, such as weddings. As long as it is decent and legal, we’ll pull out all of the stops to make it happen.”

Duncan, Funeral Director

Let the professionals deal with the practicalities:

With funeral processions usually taking place on public roads, we must ensure that we’re complying with legal requirements. For the most part, the requests we receive relate to the vehicle itself, which isn’t usually an issue. However, for some requests, such as a funeral parade organised by Helen, a Funeral Director in Birmingham, special permission must be sought.

“The person who had died was a long-distance lorry driver. As he’d spent so much of his life on the road - a job which he loved - his family felt it was fitting to use a flatbed lorry. Sourcing the lorry was the easy part, but the planning took a little longer because we needed to seek permission from the Highways Agency for a procession of trucks to travel along the motorway at well below the average speed limit.”

Helen, Funeral Director

Factor in time:

The key thing to remember is that some requests can take a little longer to fulfil. If you want the funeral to happen quickly, then opting for the more traditional approach may be the right choice. While sourcing and arranging more unusual funeral vehicles is absolutely possible, we will sometimes need to plan in advance to make sure the vehicle is available and the relevant permissions have been granted.

Other ways to personalise a funeral

Find a Funeral Director

Call us 24/7 on 0800 456 1047