It’s the same engine found in Mustangs of the era, so it made a perfectly unfitting sound for a car meant to usher the dead off to their peaceful final resting place.

That didn’t make it fast. We weighed the hearse out of curiosity at a truck stop with us in it, plus our luggage and an empty casket we’d brought along for show, and it came out to a whopping 6,020 lbs. The 2001 Town Car came with 235 horsepower, which wafted it down the road just fine, but ultimately made more noise than speed in straight-piped hearse trim.

My professional opinion is that the hearse needs a supercharger.

Believe it or not, the hearse wasn’t set up to carve corners, either. While it was rear-wheel drive, you certainly felt all of that weight in the corners and in braking. Push it too hard and it feels sort of like a Porsche 911 when you try to enter a corner too fast. All the weight in the rear of the hearse wants to keep going forward and feels as if it’s pushing you from behind. This is what’s called understeer, and it’s not restricted to front-wheel drive cars.

The hearse just wasn’t built to withstand hooligan driving, either. It lasted about three miles on the infamously twisty Tail of the Dragon before the brakes overheated. The brake pedal felt like stomping a sponge cake for the rest of the rally, but at least it still worked.

In that time, everything inside moved around a bit. The coffin even shifted back and forth a little. The stops that keep it in place at the top and the corners were designed for a calm, careful, sedate drive—not anything aggressive.

If you’re hauling any precious cargo in your hearse, seriously: take it easy on the curves.

It’s Not As Comfortable As It Looks

A hearse, in theory, should be a great road trip car as it’s usually based off of a big luxobarge. That said, one of the first things you notice is how little room there is for just two people in the front seats.

The front is a leather bench seat, with power adjustments on the drivers’ side. I thought it was fine enough, but Steve felt it was a somewhat butt-numbing experience due to the lack of support. You slid around a bit on good, curvy roads as there was no side bolstering to speak of.

While the front seats would be fine for cross-town driving, there wasn’t a lot of room for anything else—especially the items that you want to have handy or that naturally accumulate on a road trip, like cameras, munchies or trash. The center console that folded down in the middle of the seat was too shallow to hold much.

The two cupholders were adequate enough, but they slid out right underneath the HVAC controls, making them nearly impossible to adjust without moving a cup.

The tape deck was also well-used and extremely scratchy. If we listened to anything, it came out of a cell phone speaker.

With the platform behind you built right to the back of the seats, you can’t lie back far enough to take a nap, either. Consequently, the most comfortable place in the car is probably in the casket itself, which I crawled into to ride into the pre-rally inspection, where the Lemons staff gives out points based on the ridiculousness of the car and (where applicable) its theme.

I knew from an old Ask a Mortician episode that caskets aren’t airtight, but we didn’t lock it, either way, and I could see a little crack of daylight out the side just in case. The curved floor of the casket lowered into place with a set of screws to the most appropriate place for my height, and everything was lightly padded. There was a matching pillow and blanket, and I was surprisingly comfortable back there. The ride—albeit short—was pretty smooth.

That being said, given how everything moved around on the Tail of the Dragon, I don’t think that setup is really designed to keep living people safe in the event of a crash. You probably shouldn’t ride back there for longer distances, even though “died while taking a nap in a casket” is an extremely metal way to go.

We Didn’t Die

Aside from a nasty sinus infection that got so bad I ended up having to skip a couple stops to find a doctor in North Carolina, the rally itself went well. There was a battery light that kept flashing, although it didn’t seem to affect the car in any way. The hood latch also lost a spring in Kentucky, forcing us to fix it in below-freezing temperatures. We finished eleventh overall, and even saw Grave Digger’s headquarters full of monster trucks along the way. It was a good time.

On the way back, we even swung by the company that made the hearse for a quick photo. Ohio apparently builds an unusual number of funeral cars, and many of the most common hearse builders—including Federal—have been consolidated under one Ohio coachbuilding conglomerate.

From there it was a snowy drive back up to the northeast. The cheap all-seasons on the car weren’t great for this, although they were great for sliding the big car around in the snow when we wanted to have fun with it.

The hearse wasn’t the perfect road trip car, but it was definitely a lot of fun.