New service offers ‘last ride’ to die-hard bikers

Towed by a three-wheeled Harley, the hearse is backed into the driveway just like any other trailer.   - Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo
Towed by a three-wheeled Harley, the hearse is backed into the driveway just like any other trailer.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo

“You have to have to pay for your last ride no matter what,” reasons Larry Manius. “The way I figure it, you might as well go in style.”

And for an avid biker, that means having your coffin towed behind a Harley rather than loaded into a conventional hearse.

Fortunately, as of this week, Manius can offer just such a service.

A Port Orchard resident and ordained minister, Manius has a day job working in the Department of Maintenance for the city of Bremerton. But he’s hoping to supplement his income with a company he’s dubbed “Highway to Heaven.”

The centerpiece of his new endeavor is a $12,000 “hearse” specially constructed to be towed behind a three-wheeled Harley-Davidson Screaming Eagle.

“I spoke with the people at Miller-Woodlawn (Funeral Home in Bremerton), about this, and they said, ‘You can’t imagine how many bikers there are out there who would go crazy for something like this,” Manius said. “Everyone seems to think this will really snowball.”

At $500 a pop, Manius said he’ll recoup the cost of his unique hearse after just 24 customers.

“That’s just two a month,” he said. “But we’re anticipating a lot more business than that.”

Manius said the only similar service in the Puget Sound area is offered by a Seattle company that has a specially built sidecar onto which a coffin can be secured.

Manius, though, provides a more upscale experience.

Manufactured by Justin Carriage Works, a German company whose closest showroom is located in British Columbia, Manius’ hearse boasts imported European carriage lamps, tempered glass windows, chrome wheels and natural wood pillars and trim.

“I get a lot of interesting comments about it,” Manius said. “A lot of people are afraid to even touch it. They have a thing about death, I guess.”

Manius took delivery of the hearse two weeks ago and expects to begin hauling customers immediately.

“We went down to the Washington State Patrol and got all the necessary permits and inspections,” he said. “They just wanted to make sure it had turn signals and things that any other trailer would have.”

Manius said it took three years for the company to finish his order, which was finally shipped by truck.

“People asked me why I didn’t just go and drive it back myself,” he said. “But I was afraid traveling all that way on the freeway would shake things loose and the hearse would rattle when it was moving.”

Not that it bother his riders if it did.

“I don’t expect many of them to complain,” Manius said.

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