By Lethbridge Herald on July 13, 2015.
It didn’t get lost on its way to the funeral home, but Cory Yeik’s 1964 Pontiac Bonneville hearse gives “going out in style” a new meaning.
As one of hundreds of classic vehicles registered for Sunday’s Street Machine Weekend Show and Shine at Galt Gardens, it got more than a few double-takes.
The “zombie” cargo in the back may have had a little to do with it.
“It’s a consort. There were only 20 of those made. It doubled up as an ambulance and a hearse,” said Yeik.
Part of the family for 40 years, the car was first owned by Yeik’s father, who worked maintenance at a cemetary.
After convincing his father to hand over the keys 15 years ago, Yeik turned the hearse into his first restoration project.
“It’s quite a car. Everything is pretty much custom on it. It’s got a 470 stroker Pontiac (engine), 750 horse power, Turbo 400, full leather interior, billet aluminum. It’s been cadmium plated underneath. It’s quite a ride.”
It even has a custom Saskatchewan licence plate, “LST RYD.”
A souped-up hearse is something many wouldn’t expect to see at a car show, and Yeik said he hasn’t seen another like it.
“People enjoy it because it is different.”
It’s an ongoing project and a labour of love. Yeik estimates he’s invested at least $150,000 worth in both parts and time.
“The time, I can’t even begin to imagine the time. I would probably roll over if I added up all the hours I put into it, and am still putting into it.”
He has since restored another five vehicles, including a 1971 Dodge Demon 340, a 1970 Charger RT, and a 1970 Challenger.
Part of the charm of restoring old vehicles is about “bringing back an era that is long gone,” Yeik said.
“We can’t make those old cars anymore and it’s an exciting thing to do. It’s an accomplishment. Just seeing the joy in the kids and everybody when they see the cars at the show.”
A resident of Lethbridge for the last 10 years, this is Yeik’s sixth time at the Show and Shine.
Like many classic vehicle enthusiasts, he travels to other car shows and events. He has another 10-15 lined up within Alberta this year.
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