Sharpe Conversions - 1970-1979 - Emmett, Michigan


   

Another firm similar to ACC (aka Amblewagon) was Sharpe Conversions of Emmett, Michigan. This was a father and son operation, run by Vern Sharpe and his son Mick. They were in business from sometime in the early '70's and around at least as late as 1979. Most of their work was conversions of station wagons into service cars or hearses, but they also did some van ambulance conversions, including some for the Alaska Pipeline Project.

Perhaps the most elaborate work done by this firm was a Lincoln limousine built for a funeral home in Akron, along with a matching hearse. The limousine looked similar to an AHA Lincoln, except for the additional piece of glass in the rear side doors, and it used an adjustable Lincoln front seat assembly in the middle seating area of the car instead of jump seats. Something must have went wrong when the car was stretched, because it seemed to sag in the center; and looked as though it was welded back together with the jacks supporting the center sections being a couple of inches too low for the mating pieces of the car to be level. The matching landau hearse was built from about a '77 Mercury Commuter station wagon, and it was altered cosmetically to look more like a Lincoln.

Sharpe's Lincoln hearse conversion was stretched about 2 feet, with the leading edge of the rear side doors being lengthened as well as the leading edges of the rear quarter panels. Stock side glass was used in the doors, and the extra length had a filler panel covered in vinyl to match the top; with a mirrored glass insert in the filler panel. The doorgate at the rear was modified to open sideways only, with a large chrome plated piano hinge on its left edge, and a matching dummy hinge on the right edge of the door opening. The roofline was kept at stock height, and the cars had a dropped rear floor for more interior headroom. The casket table itself was an electrically operated extension table that was recessed between the rear frame rails, and the entire rear floor was covered in aluminum. Inside the rear side doors, there was a half partition behind the front seat, covered in vinyl to match the interior, and the floor had openings to place floral baskets in alongside the casket table itself. Driving that car was a strange sensation in its own right, as looking in the inside mirror left the driver with a feeling of pulling a tunnel down the street, due to the low roofline and the dropped rear floor. It was believed for many years that there was only one such conversion done, until a second "Lincury" turned up in the hands of a car collector.

Sharpe had a distinctive half top vinyl roof treatment that consisted of vinyl over the entire rear of the car's roof, behind the C pillar, with slim vinyl extensions running along the roof rails to the windshield. Removable landau panels or a permanent landau roof were available, and Sharpe offered a removable hearse floor that was finished in aluminum and wood-grain inserts, with matching inserts available for the inside of the doorgate. If there was one area where Sharpe had the edge over other conversion firms, it was their drapes, which were made to open with the rear side doors or doorgate, even if the door glass wasn't surrounded by a frame. The drapes weren't attached to the glass at all, so the glass could be opened if desired. The drapes were mounted on a separate framework that slipped into sockets attached to the top of the inside door trim panel; so they could also be lifted out if desired.

Sharpe never advertised nationally, so most of its work was for customers in the Michigan area, and occasionally, they'd show a car at a funeral service trade show.

2004 Bernie DeWinter IV - Coachbuilt.com

 

   

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