A E Stoodley’s Queen II Pilato takes centre stage



When A E Stoodley & Son hosted a gala event to launch their Community Fund, the firm’s new Queen II Pilato hearse had a starring role. Tracey Warren of A E Stoodley & Son tells us what’s so special about her new Pilato.
Tracey Warren of Stoodley with Queen II at Community Fund launch

“I’ve been at A E Stoodley & Son for 18 years, but I took over fully in 2017,” says Tracey. “We are a very progressive, forward-thinking funeral director, and my goal was to bring our brand in line with our values. One of the first things I did was replace our existing vehicle.”

A E Stoodley & Son were running a Mercedes E320 Pollmann build which was about 20 years old – a true workhorse of a car but no longer in line with her vision. Tracey wanted something new, unique, stylish and modern for the business in 2018.

Love At First Sight

The Pilato Queen II was the first vehicle she saw at the National Funeral Exhibition last year. Even though she took a good look around, she couldn’t help coming back to it.

“I assumed we’d get another Mercedes,” she says, “we’ve always had a Mercedes fleet. The second I saw the ‘Queen II’ on Superior UK’s stand, I knew I wanted it. I spent a lot of time looking around, but there was nothing else that came close for me!

Stoodley's Queen II 2

“I had a strong vision of how I wanted our vehicle to look, and the scope of the Queen II allowed me to look beyond the demonstrator. I knew we could create something really special for A E Stoodley & Son.”

Kevin and Peter Smith of Superior UK spoke to Tracey at the NFE and help her to make her vision a reality. She knew exactly what she wanted, and Superior UK were able to advise her with their extensive knowledge and experience of Pilato vehicles. They even facilitated a visit to the Pilato factory in Nervesa della Battaglia, Italy, so Tracey could see her Queen II progressing through the build process.

Watching The Build At The Pilato Factory

In February (6 months after placing the order), Tracey went over to Pilato with Peter, Kevin, and Jon of Superior UK.

“The entire trip was memorable,” she says. “I had a wonderful tour around the factory and saw our Queen II in her grey shell as she started to take shape. It was amazing to see what Pilato do and watch the build in action.”

Tracey was even able to add some very special personalised touches to the car during the build phase.

Stoodley's Queen II coffin chamber

The Most Personalised Details

“I signed the vehicle inside the back wing, and had our logo etched into one of the windows. It was great to have that level of detail available to us. It made me even more excited to take delivery of the finished vehicle.”

Superior UK kept in touch with Tracey throughout the process, and then delivered the car to her by specialist transporter in June 2018.

“I don’t mind admitting that I cried when I saw it,” says Tracey. “It is absolutely stunning, beyond anything I could have comprehended. It is everything I’d hoped for – and the rest!”

Soon after delivery, the Queen II was put centre stage at a special event hosted by A E Stoodley & Son – the launch of their Community Fund. The funeral firm have always been community focused, they are at the heart of the town, for the local people.

Centre Stage At Community Fund Launch

In their 95th year of trading in the town, Tracey launched the Stoodley & Son Community Fund. This initiative is the latest in the firm’s community focused activities. Tracey presented the first award on the evening to The Teresa Braley Memorial Garden. A E Stoodley & Son also run a free Bereavement Support Group (which has supported 120 families over 5 years) and hosts a number of charity events throughout the year.

“People want a funeral director they can feel comfortable with,” says Tracey, “our community work makes us more noticeable and approachable. It was great to be able to welcome so many local people to the launch event. We were only expecting 40 people, and we had over 120! The Queen II was a stunning centrepiece and a real talking point.”

Stoodley's Queen II 3

Since the community fund launch evening, the Queen II has been out and about in the local area – working hard and turning heads.

“We get plenty of looks,” says Tracey. “People even cross the road to look at the car and talk to us about it!”

Stoodley's Queen II detail

A E Stoodley & Son’s new Queen II Pilato has helped bring Tracey’s vision for the business to life. Superior UK were delighted to play a part in the journey.

“A E Stoodley’s Queen II Pilato takes centre stage

” is a blog post from Superior UK. The main Superior UK website is here.

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New Vito Private Ambulance Brings Fleet In Line For M Garton & Son

When Malcolm Garton of M Garton & Son in Hull decided to upgrade his private ambulance, he knew it was time to invest in a vehicle that matched the rest of his smart Mercedes fleet. He had been to Superior UK in the past, so knew exactly who to ask for his next Mercedes.

“We have Mercedes limousines, so we really wanted a Mercedes removal vehicle to complete the fleet,” explained Malcolm. “We had been running a Vauxhall Vivaro but, even though it wasn’t very old, it was giving us no end of problems. In fact it ended up off the road for a while, which was far from ideal. We needed a new vehicle which would perform as good as it looks.”

Malcolm and his wife Barbara are co-directors of the family firm, which was founded in 1888 by Mark Garton – Malcolm’s great-Grandfather. The business has five offices across East Yorkshire, serving a wide area which runs along the north of the Humber: from South Cave across to Hedon, taking in the city of Hull.

M Garton & Son’s new private ambulance needed to be modern, dignified, and discreet to stay in keeping with the firm’s reputation and image. Superior UK’s Northern sales associate, Greg Platt, helped Malcolm put together the perfect specification.
Malcolm Garton with Greg Platt (Superior UK Northern Sales)
“We knew we wanted the Mercedes Vito, and wouldn’t need the full Superior ‘Rise&Fall’ decking system,” said Malcolm. “So we asked Superior UK to build a lower fixed type decking system finished in a hearse type wood laminate,” said Malcolm. “Greg helped us with the deck, interior, paintwork, finish, and choice of trimmings.”
Greg Platt Superior UK Northern Sales with Malcolm Garton
M Garton & Son’s finished Vito is a very smart, modern-looking removal vehicle that fits in perfectly with the rest of the fleet.

The Vito has a walnut interior, and is finished in flint grey metallic paintwork with colour coded bumpers and all-round glazing ensure for a discreet removal. The new Vito doesn’t just look great – it’s a pleasure to drive, too, with driver aids including air-conditioning, parking sensors and reversing camera.

“Superior UK made the entire process really easy,” said Malcolm. “We knew from our previous dealings with them that we would be treated very fairly, with great customer service and after care should we ever need it. The Vito is a great addition to our fleet and a vast improvement on our previous private ambulance. Everyone here enjoys driving it, and the families appreciate the dignified and professional look of the vehicle.”

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This is a blog post from Superior UK. Our main website is here.

Hywel Griffiths Funeral Directors’s First Mercedes-Benz Vehicle Exceeds Expectations

Hywel Griffiths Delivery Vito 2

When Keith and Peter Griffiths decided to invest in a new removal vehicle, they knew they did not want anything resembling a van. After detailed talks with Superior UK Automotive, they took ownership of a stunning new Mercedes-Benz Vito which looks so good that it can operate as a multi-purpose vehicle. Keith Griffiths talks us through his high-spec Vito.

Griffiths Vito

“It was very important to us that our new vehicle didn’t look like a van,” said Keith, who represents the 4th generation of the Griffiths family. “Although the vehicle would primarily be used as a removal vehicle, we wanted something that looked good enough to be a hearse if needed.”

The company’s existing fleet vehicles are Ford Mk11s, but they had always been an admirer of Mercedes-Benz design. So Keith contacted Superior UK Automotive.

“It was the first time we had worked with the Griffiths family,” said Kevin Smith from Superior UK, “and it was a real pleasure to hear about their vision for a multi-purpose removal type vehicle. Keith wanted the appearance of a passenger vehicle, with the practicalities of a van. I was excited to introduce him to the idea of a Vito, as I knew it could surpass his expectations.”

After some weeks of talks, a detailed specification was agreed.

Griffiths Vito Decking

“We have never liked the idea of a van that states it is a Private Ambulance,” said Keith. “Kevin understood exactly what we meant, and was very helpful. The finished vehicle is spectacular, we are very impressed.”

Hywel Griffiths’s Vito has a top quality exterior design, finished with a high-quality interior, making it ideal for home and hospital collections.

“I admit that I was always wary of this kind of vehicle, but our experience with Superior UK has completely changed my view,” said Keith. “Our Vito is so beautiful inside that it could pass as a hearse. We chose a burr walnut finish interior floor to ceiling, plus roof rails, chrome fittings on the sills, side steps, and alloy wheels. The high quality fittings and accessories to the interior really compliment the Mercedes-Benz exterior design.”

Brothers Peter and Keith, together with their children Rhodri, Lowri, Rhys and Euros are a tight-knit family business that was started in 1875. As 4th generation of this family firm, Keith prefers to deal with small companies. Superior UK Automotive are also a family business, with Kevin working alongside his father Peter. 

Hywel Griffiths Delivery Vito

“I immediately felt that Kevin understood the dynamic of a family business,” said Keith. “The communication and customer service was outstanding. We were always able to deal directly with him, and never had to wait for an answer.”

Hywel Griffiths Funeral Directors are a privately owned business based in Betws, near Ammanford in West Wales, and offers funeral services and monumental masonry with a bilingual service.

“My great-grandfather started this firm in 1875 and we are proud to see how it has grown,” said Keith. “My own Dad did 70 funerals a year, but we do around 400 now. Our fleet vehicles are an important part of our branding and the service levels we give. Superior UK are a great partner for us.”

Hywel Griffiths Funeral Directors’s First Mercedes-Benz Vehicle Exceeds Expectations is a post from the Superior UK blog. The main Superior UK website is here.

Three Stunning Used Ford Mk11s Help Family Firm J T Byrne Stand Out

JT Byrne's new funeral fleet against the Fylde coastline

When Lancashire funeral directors J T Byrne decided to change their fleet vehicles, they knew they wanted something very special.

Superior UK enjoyed helping John Byrne find flawless used cars that are extra special.

J T Byrne Funeral Directors is a small family firm, now run by John Byrne who represents the second generation. He explains how important each fleet change is to their funeral business.

Any vehicle purchase is a big decision,” said John, “and we were looking for three cars at once (one hearse and two limousines). The purchase had to be right, and that would start with finding the right supplier.”

John initially went to suppliers he had used in the past, but they couldn’t help him find what he was looking for.

And then he had a chat with Superior UK’s Northern representative, Greg Platt.

“I’ll admit that I hadn’t thought of going to Superior UK,” said John. “Everyone knows them for the Binz and Pilato vehicles, and I didn’t think they dealt with used cars!”

Superior UK’s Greg Platt visited J T Byrne based on the Fylde Coast, covering Thornton – Cleveleys, Fleetwood and Bispham. He discussed John’s ideal used cars, before promising to keep his eye out for some top-quality, low-mileage vehicles in the right price range.

“We wanted something a bit different,” explained John, who had been running Ford Mk9 and Mk10 fleet vehicles. “Something newer, more modern, and fresh looking but still traditional.”

Over the next few months, Greg kept his word (and kept in touch), building a relationship with the team at J T Byrne as he sought out quality Ford Mk11 hearses and limousines.

“Before long, Greg came back to us with some beautiful Ford Mk11s,” said John. “We loved the look of them – a little bit different with sweeping lines instead of the traditional box shape. Nobody else in this area has anything like them.

“Greg had done an amazing job in finding these vehicles, they were in immaculate condition and had low mileage. And I was shocked at how competitive the price was!”

Superior UK arranged for John to visit their HQ in Berkshire so he could see the cars for himself. There, he met Kevin Smith and the rest of the Superior UK team, who showed him round the workshop.

“I really enjoyed my trip down to Superior UK,” said John. “I got to see some of those famous Binz vehicles in the workshop – they are out of this world!

“One thing that really struck me was the customer service. Even though I was only purchasing second hand Fords, not these incredible new fancy Mercedes Benz vehicles, I genuinely felt just as valued as any other customer.

“Kevin really goes the extra mile. He helped me source signage for the windows of our used Fords, and even fitted their new quick release locking mechanism for the decking for the coffin, just as an extra. He is a great guy and it’s clear that he is really passionate about the industry.”

When Greg Platt delivered the three Fords to J T Byrne, they were presented in style.

“The cars arrived on a professional transporter and were unloaded and presented to us with great care,” said John. “Superior UK had taken care of refurbishing the alloys, professional cleaning, and exterior compound polishing, Our cars looked stunning.”

Kevin Smith of Superior UK said it was the company’s first time dealing with J T Byrne. “It was an absolute pleasure to help John find three beautiful used cars that fit the bill,” he said. “All cars mean a great deal to the customer who will be using them, and we enjoy being part of such an important business decision. We enjoy sourcing and delivering used cars just as much as new cars.”

J T Byrne have now been running their Ford Mk11 hearse and limousine for several months.

“We have had an astounding amount of feedback about these cars,” said John. “People really do notice the smaller details. It gives us a lot of pride to be able to say that these cars are ours, we don’t hire them in. The front is very distinctive, and the glass roof and modern sweeping windows look great. Having such beautiful vehicles is the final piece of the puzzle. These cars support our professional, respectful image.

“I really value the relationship we have built up with Superior UK,” said John. “We were looked after so well, with great care and attention. Superior UK will be our first port of call moving forward.”

Three Stunning Used Ford Mk11s Help Family Firm J T Byrne Stand Out is a post from the Superior UK blog. The main Superior UK website is here.

A Surprise New Vito For Frank Cobbett With Help From Superior UK

When Superior UK delivered a new Vito private ambulance to F Cobbett & Sons family funeral directors, it was news to Frank Cobbett. His son, Warwick Cobbett, tells us how he worked with Superior UK’s Kevin Smith to keep the new vehicle a complete surprise for his father.

Vito Side Load Bier.jpg

“We have six branches in and around South London,” explains Warwick Cobbett, “so all our vehicles cover a lot of miles, with our private ambulances going all over the country. It was time to replace one of our existing removal vehicles. We have an older one with Binz decking in it, and that deck had actually outperformed a newer vehicle with a different deck system fitted. So I went to Superior UK to get a replacement Vito with their interior.”

Kevin Smith at Superior UK was happy to help Warwick Cobbett with a modified Vito that would meet the needs of a busy London funeral firm.

“F Cobbett & Sons’s vehicles cover a lot of ground, including airport runs,” he said. “The new Vito had to be carefully customised to fit their needs, including a reliable deck that could keep up with the workload for many years to come.”

Vito Decking Grey
Superior UK and Warwick worked together to finalise the specs, which included non-standard amendments and that famous Rise&Fall Superior decking.

Kevin at Superior UK explained the changes they made to the standard Vito. “We modified the upper deck to accommodate a flight tray, and modified the lower deck to allow a wheeled lattice bier, latex glove storage box and disposal pocket to be fitted,” he said. “The results was a flight tray on both the upper or lower decks. The vehicle itself had a lovely specification, with the uprated 116 (163hp) engine, plus 7-Speed automatic transmission, air-conditioning, parking sensors and satellite navigation.

During the build, Warwick visited Superior UK’s Reading headquarters twice to see all the changes taking place.

F Cobbett & Sons Delivery 150917 LR
On the day of delivery, Frank Cobbett (Warwick’s father) had no idea that he was receiving a new private ambulance, let alone one kitted out with a top range Superior decking, new interior details, and a smart exterior finish. Kevin Smith was there on behalf of Superior UK to personally hand the vehicle over.

“Warwick had done a great job in keeping the new vehicle order under wraps,” he said. “Together we presented the new Vito removal vehicle to his father Frank, who was delighted with the latest addition to their funeral fleet.”

F Cobbett & Sons – who operate under Evershed Brothers, incorporating John Knox & Stanley Clare, now have a fleet of two hearses, two limousines, and two private ambulances. This busy London firm has been operating since 1924 and Warwick is third generation of the Cobbett family. As the business expands and grows, Superior UK look forward to supporting the family with reliable, top quality vehicles.

“ This is the first vehicle we have supplied to Warwick,” said Kevin Smith at Superior UK, “and it’s been a real pleasure.”

A Surprise New Vito For Frank Cobbett With Help From Superior UK is a post from the Superior UK blog. The main Superior UK website is here.

Three New Mercedes Vito Removal Vehicles For Heart Of England Co-operative

Superior-supplied vehicles now make up more than 50% of The Heart Of England Co-operative’s extensive fleet. Darryl Smith, General Manager of Funerals, told us what’s special about his latest delivery of three brand-new and personalised Vito removal vehicles.

Heart of England's 3 Vitos (1)

The Heart of England Co-operative is one of the most successful co-operative funeral businesses in the country, running a fleet of 27 vehicles to cover a large part of the Midlands. In September, Superior UK delivered three personalised, high-tech Mercedes Vito removal vehicles.

“We cover a large and busy area of the country,” explained Darryl Smith, The Heart of England Co-operative Society’s General Manager of Funerals. “We needed to replace some of our older removal vehicles, and used the opportunity to upgrade tonewer Vitos. The Vito has been our choice of first-call vehicle for many years, and Superior UK have always helped us to personalise the most updated version.”

The Heart Of England Co-op’s three new Mercedes Vito removal vehicles were designed to look like an MPV, not a van, with interior and exterior detailing that reflects the professional and modern image of this reputable local funeral service provider.

“We took the basic design of the Vito, and asked Superior UK to add sat nav systems, air conditioning, and exterior detailing that works beautifully with our signature Tenorite Grey paintwork,” Darryl explained. “We chose automatics to make them easier to drive. We are a modern and forward-thinking funeral business, and our fleet needs to reflect our values. The finished product looks like an MPV, which is exactly what we wanted.  They are great looking vehicles which are a dream to use.”

The three new Vito vehicles from Superior UK were designed to compliment the firm’s existing ceremonial vehicles, for an eye-catching and high-performance fleet. Every Vito in the fleet now has custom paintwork in Tenorite Grey, with colour-coded bumpers, alloy wheels, tinted windows, and chrome detailing.

Kevin Smith hands over Vitos to Darryl Smith

Kevin Smith of Superior UK said it was a pleasure to help Darryl Smith with the latest additions to his large fleet. “We have worked with the Heart of England Co-operative for many years, and always enjoy helping Darryl with the exact specifications he needs. His latest Vitos look fantastic and we were proud to deliver them. It was great to see them in their new home, with the other removal vehicles and limousines we have sourced for Darryl over the years.”

The Heart of England Co-operative now have a full Superior UK fleet of limousines and first call ambulances, with 14 of their 27-vehicles fleet provided by Superior UK.

“As always, Kevin and the entire Superior UK team were very helpful,” said Darryl. “Like me, he has spent his entire career in the funeral industry and he is really passionate about funeral vehicles. This makes the ordering process a pleasure. We spent plenty of time talking about the specs, and finalising the extra details I wanted to make these Vitos personalised and unique. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

The Heart of England’s new Vito vehicles have been well received by the co-operative’s drivers and the families they serve. Superior UK are proud to be part of the story.

“Three New Mercedes Vito Removal Vehicles For Heart Of England Co-operative” is a blog post from Superior UK – our main website is here.

Superior UK On 2 Wheels – France, Monaco, The Alps

 

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Superior UK’s Kevin Smith isn’t just passionate about funeral vehicles! He loves anything on four wheels…. or two wheels!

Fun Facts!

Kevin got his first motorcycle when he was 8 and has had one ever since. He first tasted freedom at 16 having passed his moped test, and by 18 he had moved straight onto big bikes (500cc then 600cc and then 750c) riding every day, even through winter months. He actually spent 5 years racing 1000cc superbikes – and finished 8th in the National Championships in 2005 before hanging up his race leathers to concentrate on the family.

Here he is in 2001 at a Track Day.
2001 Track Day

Superior UK’s Annual Roadtrip

In 2001, Kevin toured the American East coast – New York to Maine – on a Harley Davidson. Since then, he’s tried to get away annually for a few days of carefree riding with a group of biking friends.

2011 – off road touring in the mountains of Andalucia on a Honda CRF450
2012 – toured France, Alsace mountains on a Harley-Davidson
2012 – 2013 – various Hare & Hound Enduro events
2014 – toured the Scottish Highlands on a Triumph 800xc
2015 – toured France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland on the Triumph 800xc
2016 – toured France, Italy, Austria on the Triumph 800xc
2017 – did a French Training Tour with IAM/ROSPA

This year’s trip was touring France and into Monaco – here are some highlights.

Day 1
11 hours and 543 miles of riding, starting in Calais and arriving in Macon.

 

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Day 2
A day of riding through Vercors complete with 1000ft drops and spectacular scenery. The guys headed off towards Grenoble and climbed up into the mountains, and took a little jaunt through the Vercors. They had a run over a few mountain routes, but the Col de la Machine was the most spectacular (even though the main photo point was closed for repairs).
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After an overnight stop in Gap, they were getting ready to head off when they saw the first vehicle of the day… (there’s no getting away from the funeral industry!)
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Day 3
Started fresh at altitude (approx. 800m) and the guys climbed into the Alps Cote D’Azur. Fabulous roads, picture postcard scenery, what more could you want!

They zig zagged their way to the D900c, what a route! Headed south and picked up Route Napoleon (some of which was closed for resurfacing). The detour was a gem – and featured a great biker bar (Snack Du Lack)
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As they ran down the side of the Alps, the Mediterranean Sea was looming large. They had a lovely run along the sea front through Nice and onto Monaco.

Monaco was mayhem, with roadworks, traffic, construction and the casino – and surrounding roads closed for a private function.

The guys finally reached Menton in the mountains for an overnight stop.

Day 4
Brought some serious altitudes as they started to tackle the Route des Grande Alpes – which would take a few days.

Kevin says this was probably the slowest he’s ever ridden, averaging 15mph over 6hrs, but the views were amazing. He now fully understands why it’s called “Route des Grande Alpes”. With the Maritime Alpes complete – they moved into the Rhone Alpes.

Day 5
A fresh start to the day (only about 5*C) as Kevin and co left from an altitude 900m.

The day’s ride was only 180miles but took 9hrs and they covered some epic roads and unbelievable views.

They topped out at just over 2,600mtrs – high enough for a dash of snow here and there. But they also passed through some big ski resorts which Kevin says looked quite strange covered in grass! (everywhere closed and deserted until December)

Then through Albertville where the 1992 Winter Olympics were held, a lovely town popular with cyclists, surrounded by plenty of nice roads.
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They stopped to admire Mont Blanc, before heading to an overnight stop in Annecy, a fantastic town with excellent restaurants and its own lake.

Day 6
They started to move towards home, but there was more adventure still to come.

The ride up was great, 320 miles covered in 9 hours of riding. There were no peage AutoRoutes so they got see some of Northern France.

They arrived in Epernay on Saturday evening, and unfortunately the Champagne houses were all enclosed up so they had to resort to window shopping…

Are you a motorbike fan? Have you ever ridden any of these routes?

This is a blog post from Superior UK – the main Superior UK website is here.