During Sunday's Daytona 500, an ad appeared on Craigslist to sell the Lincoln hearse that carried NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. body during his funeral for $8,800. It sold. Now, the seller tells us exclusively he now regrets it.
The ad, titled "The Last Ride of #3," offered no more information than any traditional car ad on Craigslist: just four photos of a old 1996 Lincoln Town Car hearse with 115,114 miles and less than 50 words. "The ultimate in NASCAR memorabilia...Super condition for the actual hearse used on the funeral of NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt."
The seller was Bill McKeithan, a North Carolina man who'd bought the hearse a year ago. According to him, the Lincoln had been traded in by the funeral home that arranged Earnhardt's burial following his deadly crash in the 2001 Daytona 500, having been used to transport his body from the local airport to the mausoleum where Earnhardt was interred. (The burial was held in private, a day before a public memorial)
McKeithan told Jalopnik that he had simply been sitting on the car, part of a small cache of old vehicles that made him a "halfway collector." While watching the Daytona 500 on Sunday, and its tributes to Earnhardt on the 10th anniversary of his death, McKeithan had an idea.
"It was just sitting there, and I realized I'm never going to use that hearse for anything," he said. "I just went and put the ad up, and I figured if it sold, it sold and if it didn't, it didn't."
The ad posted at 2:26 p.m. At 9 p.m., McKeithan had a caller who agreed to buy it.
It's no surprise that someone would move so quickly for Dale Earnhardt's final ride. A decade after his death, the market for Intimidator-related memorabilia remains strong, if $20,000 oil paintings are any guide. Before it was revealed as a fake, the "JFK" ambulance used as a hearse was expected to fetch more than $1 million; his actual hearse used in Dallas has been for sale at $1.5 million with no takers.
It's hard to say how much the Earnhardt hearse would sell for in a forum where its macabre history was marketed beyond the usual restraints of taste. But the buyer is set to pick up the hearse today, and McKeithan won't break his word to find out what he could have earned beyond his local Craigslist.
"I am remorseful to the fact I sold it," he said. "I should have just kept it."
Thanks to Gregory!