Hot Rod casket gives man Godspeed to the great beyond

The sleek gray capsule stood motionless before the gathered crowd. And what a sight it was: tubular exhaust headers, polished valve covers, blower scoop, checkered flag badges, and a custom plate that read *58 Pro. The driver reclined behind a set of custom gauges wearing his favorite black shirt with hot rod flames.

Everybody assembled recognized the man inside and knew how much he would have appreciated what they had done to customize his ride on this, his final journey. But he wasn't able to tell them. James D. Calabrese, something of a local legend in the Southern California hot rod scene, had passed away several days before. Follow the jump for the rest of the story.

[Source: Orange County Register]
Remembering what Jim had said while attending a relative's funeral back in 1990, Karen Calabrese, his wife of 29 years, gathered some of Jim's friends together to help customize his casket. While viewing the black bullet-shaped casket of his brother-in-law Jim had told her, "I want that when I die, and I want headers on it."

"Whatever you want, dear," Karen replied.

"If you don't bury me with headers, I'll haunt you."

So, over the weekend, Karen called upon Jim's lifelong friend, Tony Suskie of Placentia, to head up the casket remodeling. They started with parts from Jim's beloved '58 Chevy Biscayne but others contributed time as well as parts that Jim had longed for. In the end they created the ultimate hot rod for the journey to the great beyond. God speed Jim.

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