Tony Stewart’s 1984 Cadillac Hearse – Smoke Deville – PicturesAs I was channel surfing last night I came across a re-run of a 2006 episode of Unique Whips, a reality show on SpeedTv that features Unique Autosports and their team of car guru’s who “trick out” expensive cars for mostly a celebrity clientele.
What caught my attention last night was the 1984 Cadillac hearse they were “tricking out” for nascar sensation Tony Stewart.
This hearse was a beater when it was brought to the Unique Autosports shop, but when it left it was one sharp ride. Practical…not so much, but sweet none the less.
Below is an article about the hearse and some of the modifications made to it, as well as a link to a photo gallery.
Go out with a bang. In show business and day-to-day life, you want people to notice when you’re gone, when you’ve left the building. So for the season finale of Unique Whips, Will Castro and the install team at Unique Autosports in New York had to think big: a big celeb client, Tony Stewart of NASCAR fame; a big ride, a 1984 Cadillac hearse; and bigshots of the ICE world–Steve Brown of Alpine, Gary Biggs of JBL and Dave “Fishman” Rivera of Metra. With this car audio dream team leading the build of the highly unusual vehicle, the season finale would be one that keeps you eagerly awaiting the next season.
Brown, Biggs and Rivera didn’t get to see the hearse before the seven-day build/shoot. On top of that, they had no time to preplan what they would do prior to arriving on set. Despite this, the part of the install each man would focus on was obvious. Since most of the Alpine gear would be going up front, Brown took care of the dash. With Rivera’s penchant for wild innovations, he built the motorized TV wall between the front and rear seats. (Stewart requested that the hearse be converted into a limousine and a standard glass window would just be too boring.) Biggs, loaded with JBL amps and subs, would handle the sub enclosure. He also advised Unique Autosports installer, Keith “Reme” Rowland, on the ampracks. The rest of the Unique shop stepped in for wiring and upholstery.
YANKING IT OUT
Before Brown began with the dash, the entire crew had a field day ripping out the original one, as well as the rest of the interior. Since this hearse was destined to be a limo, you’d think ICE would weigh down the passenger “compartment,” but Stewart wanted the driver as well as passengers to be able to enjoy a great system. This, of course, was no problem for Brown, who is known for his extreme transformations (check out his Alpine Sinister 6 on page 28). “I knew going in that I wanted to build a completely custom dash from scratch,” he states. He started with an MDF skeleton frame with space for two pairs of JBL 6 1/2″ C608GTi speakers, six gauges and two Alpine 10.2-inch PKG-1000 monitors.
Sliding down from the center of the dash, the center console commands the system. Within Stewart’s easy reach, Brown mounted the VehicleHub Pro controller, which easily lets the user access multiple components, such as the DVA-5210 DVD player. Below the player, Brown flushed in the Motorola Bluetooth phone controller and video iPod. Needless to say, the fiberglassing process required a great deal of grinding and sanding, something you’ll be familiar with if you’ve followed Brown’s “Tricks of the Trade” column. For finishing, the Unique crew wrapped the dash and center console in black leather, while the inserted center panel received a coating of silver paint.
PASSENGER PRIVACY, SORT OF
Rivera has been known for his crazy customizations, so the unusual divider between the driver and passenger compartments should come as no surprise. Castro wanted a big TV, and since Rivera’s Ford Expedition (“A Grown-Up Fish,” May ’06) had a 26-inch screen, Rivera wanted to go bigger. Using two Fish Drive motors that can lift 300 pounds apiece, a steel frame incorporating a Proview 32-inch plasma TV and JBL C608GTi component speakers motorizes up and looks like a single piece with its molded fiberglass panels. “When I motorized that thing up,” Rivera reveals, “Tony just went nuts … he couldn’t believe the size of the TV.” When the wall is down, grilles in the housing let the speakers play into the limo and a sandblasted Unique logo reveals light from the TV. Rivera took pains making the equipment easily serviceable, which, along with all the cameramen up in his face, was the hardest thing about the build.
MINI BOTTLES, BIG BASS
In addition to its other amazing features, the Smoke DeVille also has something up its sleeve to set it apart–a hidden liquor cabinet, presumably for emergencies. Providing instant access to the stash, the Caddy emblem built into the sub smoothly motorizes out.
You’d think this mini bar was also Rivera’s work, but it proudly belongs to Biggs, the audio competition champ. The bar wins points, but the main statement behind the seats is the massive 10ft3 enclosure. “Since the hearse had taken on a serious hot rod feel,” Biggs explains, “I wanted to build a large and aggressive enclosure that would fill the back end with ground-shaking sub bass!” Built to hold four custom chrome JBL W12GTi woofers, the vinyl-wrapped box takes up all the remaining space in the Caddy. As a special touch, Biggs saved a piece from an earlier install in his famous Buick Regal (“Grand Master Buick,” Apr. ’04). “[A]s soon as you open the tailgate,” he enthuses, “you get greeted by Mr. Skull.”
THE UNIQUE TOUCH
Biggs also lent his input for the amprack. Installer Rowland had never built a system with more than three or four amps. This system features six! With space tight in the hearse, the amps were mounted onto the rear side panels from the back seats to the tailgate. For the entire hearse, Chet of Unique handled the extensive wiring that included Tsunami component RCAs, power wires, battery terminals, fuse holders and speaker wire. “I bet there was three miles of wire in that car,” Biggs exclaims, “and when we fired the system up, we did not have a single problem!” Lastly, Unique’s Bujo and Pat reupholstered everything, from the seats to the carpet and headliner.