JG Fielder Upgrade to Vito With the Help of Superior UK Automotive

JG Fielder & Son are a large independent funeral director, with six branches across North Yorkshire. Their vehicles go a lot of miles: not only does the business have six locations, but regularly does hospital runs across the entire country.

When the time came to update one of the removal vehicles, partners Victor and Chris Fielder knew it was important to invest in a reliable and purpose-built vehicle. Chris tells us why JG Fielder & Son decided on a bespoke Vito from Superior UK Automotive.

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“We like to run a relatively new fleet,” explains Chris, who represents the fifth generation at JG Fielder & Son. “Our removal vehicles tend to last two or three years because we run so many miles. Just this week we have been to Bedford, London, and Lancaster from our base here in North Yorkshire.

“We’ve previously had MPV type removal vehicles, but decided to upgrade to a van with purpose-built interior as we knew it would last longer.”

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Chris had seen Superior UK Automotive’s vehicles – including their Vito – at the National Funeral Exhibition some years ago. It evidently made a good impression, as he remembered the vehicle and got straight on the phone to Superior.

“We did look around too,” he says, “but no other company was offering the option of putting together our own specification at the level of finish we wanted, and there was nothing on the market to rival the Superior UK Vito.”

Greg Platt, Superior UK’s Northern Area Sales Executive, visited JG Fielder & Son to demonstrate some of the choices of interior to their new Vito, including the famous Rise&Fall lift system.

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“We already knew what we wanted in our Vito,” says Chris, “so it was great to see the layout in a real vehicle. Greg helped us decide on every detail and was happy to provide options on the interior – again, Superior UK were the only vehicle company we found willing to do this.”

Superior UK helped JG Fielder & Son decide on a spec for their Vito, creating a bespoke vehicle which was professional and functional with a really high-level finish.

Between order and delivery day, Superior UK kept in touch, giving Chris regular updates. The Vito was on the road within 20 minutes of delivery, and instantly became a key part of the fleet.

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“We do about 800 funerals a year over a large area,” Chris says. “Add hospital runs to that and you can imagine how busy our new Vito has been.

“It has made a huge difference, helping us save time and fuel. The extra space and the design of the interior means we can take 4 bodies at a time (instead of 2). The higher spec means it is comfortable to drive, which is important when we cover so many miles.

“The Rise&Fall decking is so easy to use, we would never go back to anything else. Not only is it easier for our drivers to operate, but the deck can be raised up to window level so people can see floral tribes more easily.”

Kevin Smith from Superior UK says it was a pleasure to help Chris Fielder and family with their first Vito removal vehicle.

“JG Fielder’s Vito was a first for us, too,” he says. “It was the first Superior UK Vito removal vehicle in the latest dark graphite grey metallic – a great colour for this vehicle, especially in its covert ‘MPV’ guise.

“Chris and Vic chose a great specification, opting for a Vito Premium with 7-speed automatic transmission, alloy wheels, air-conditioning and navigation. They asked us to fit the rear compartment with full VIP kit, all beautifully finished in burnt strand grey laminate. The result is a beautiful vehicle that is purpose built to make the job easier.”

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

Five Decades in The Specialist Vehicle Trade: Happy Retirement to Peter Smith

Peter Smith is familiar to all of you who know Superior UK. Head of the family – and of the business – he is about to head into retirement. We take a look back at an astounding career in coachbuilding, specialist vehicles, and the funeral fleet industry.

The 1970s

The specialist coachbuilding world of the 1970s and 80s was an exciting time, and Peter was right in the thick of it. He recalls building exotic vehicles for Middle East customers – mainly 6-wheeled Range Rovers and convertible 2-door Range Rovers – as well as bespoke vehicles for the rich and famous.

Even back then, Peter would occasionally be asked to build a hearse or limousine, but it would be some years before they would form a significant part of his business.

6 wheeled Range Rover

Convertible Range Rover

The start for Nilsson UK at Aldermaston 1989

6 wheeled Range Rover

The 1980s

Cast your mind back to the mid-80s to a time when interest in classic English cars was on the rise. Peter began restoring and supplying some beautiful classic cars, including Jaguar E-types and XKs, Rolls Royce cars, and other marques.

Restored Jaguar E Type

Restored Jaguar E Type

Into the Funeral Vehicle Market

In the late 1980s, Peter formed a working relationship which would see him move into the funeral vehicle world – an industry he never left.

An opportunity arose to work alongside specialist coachbuilder Yngve Nilsson Karosserifabrik, who were in charge of Volvo special vehicles for Volvo Cars. Peter quickly formed a great working relationship with the Nilsson family and moved fully into the specialist market of funeral vehicles.

03 NUK YNKAB S80 Hrse

Volvo S80 hearse project

Nilsson UK & Specialist Funeral Vehicles

Did you know that Peter formed Nilsson Karosserifabrik UK Ltd (Nilsson UK)? He introduced the Volvo-based hearse and limousine to UK funeral directors, and with this came full manufacturer-approved specialist vehicles with steel body construction and one-piece steel roofs.

Over time, the Volvo funeral vehicles evolved and became one of the strongest and most trusted brands on the market. The vehicles were renowned for build quality – in fact many of these vehicles are still in service long after they should have retired!

Binz Mercedes (211) Limousine

The start for Nilsson UK at Aldermaston 1989

Innovations in Funeral Vehicle Design

Nilsson and Nilsson UK were forward-thinking companies. Peter was instrumental in the design and production of 5-door hearses, 4 and 6-door limousines, and 5-seater hearses as standard, as well as the development of the first Rise&Fall decking systems.

Volvo S80 hearse project

Nilsson Sweden showing Vauxhall Omega limousines

The 2000s

As the Millennium approached, it was clear that the world was becoming a very different place and customer expectations were changing. Peter knew the products he offered needed to adapt and continue to lead the way in a new millennium. Onto the next chapter…

The Binz Years 

Earlier in his career, Peter had crossed paths with world-renowned Germany coachbuilder Binz. They were best known for producing Mercedes-Benz E Class limousines, ambulances, and heavy-duty chassis. Binz and Peter entered into discussions. Binz agreed to produce their first production hearse (the 211 E-class Binz), and Peter formed Binz UK Ltd. From 2003, Binz products were the mainstay of the business.

Many of you will remember that first Binz. It truly was a mould breaker that altered the direction of the funeral vehicle industry. The hearse was launched with a diesel engine only, Elegance specification, with full glass coffin chamber including a glass roof. The styling was contemporary at the time, but has stood the test of time – demand for this timeless classic is still high.

Next came the 212 E Class, the limousine was launched with a panoramic glass roof fitted as standard. It became an overnight success.

04 Binz 211 L6 silver 01

Binz Mercedes (211) Limousine

The Changing Face of Funerals 

During the recession of 2008-2012, people began wanting something different from funerals.

The traditional religious ceremony was on the decline, and people wanted more of a celebration of life. This often meant an alternative to traditional hearses: motorcycles, HGVs, horses, or even novelty type vehicles.

The Pilato family (who were also a concessionaire for Nilsson) were famous for their flamboyant hearse designs. Peter saw an opportunity to bring a new style of vehicle to the UK funeral market. He arranged a meeting with Pilato to discuss the possibility of a relationship. From that meeting, Superior UK Automotive was born, and launched a series of the most exciting funerals vehicles the UK funeral market has seen.

The Man at The Centre of a Changing Industry 

From Volvo Cars, to Binz UK, and a ground-breaking partnership with Pilato in Superior UK Automotive, Peter Smith has been instrumental in changing customer expectations of funeral vehicles. He has always believed that coachbuilding should improve the quality of the vehicle. The standards and equipment we enjoy today were innovations introduced by Peter and the associated coachbuilders during his 30 years’ service to the funeral profession.

Happy retirement to Peter Smith.

Five Decades in The Specialist Vehicle Trade: Happy Retirement to Peter Smith is a post from Superior Automotive UK. The main Superior Automotive UK website is here.

 

First UK Polaris Hearse Is Hand-Signed During Build By Southern Co-op

When Southern Co-op made the decision to order a brand-new Polaris hearse, the team already knew it was a first for the UK funeral industry. What co-operative funeral colleagues didn’t know is quite how unique the process would become – from flying out to the Pilato factory to see their car in build, to signing the inside of the vehicle and installing a personalised plaque inside the bonnet. 

Southern Co-op Polaris Delivery Jarrod Turner Kevin Smith Matt Turner

Southern Co-op is a regional, independent co-operative with more than 50 funeral branches across the south of England. Matt Turner from Southern Co-op told us about the process of becoming a Polaris owner.

“Some of our existing fleet were coming to the end of their life cycle with us,” he said, “and we were looking at the various options available in the market. We operate across a large and busy region, and our vehicles need to be reliable. But we also like our ceremonial vehicles to look the part – stylish and different, without losing any of the tradition and etiquette.”

Wow-Factor Hearse With Design Style

“We really needed a high end hearse that would wow our clients, and be in keeping with the high end service we are known for. Once I saw the Polaris, I knew it was exactly what we wanted. The latest Mercedes, with the design style of Pilato, created the perfect match for our company.”

Southern Co-op Polaris 01

After contacting Superior UK (official partners and distributors of Pilato to the UK), Matt felt even more certain that the Polaris was the right decision.

“We were captivated by the Pilato Polaris. It has such a modern and stunning design that we knew we wanted it as an eye-catching part of our fleet.”

Kevin Smith from Superior UK visited Southern Co-op to talk to Matt and his colleague Claire McGinty about the Polaris hearse, helping Matt and Claire design their perfect spec and finish.

“We have a very close working relationship with Pilato,” explained Kevin. “I visit the Pilato factory several times a year, and I know these cars inside out. That level of knowledge means I can help our customers make decisions almost as if their vehicle was in front of us.”

Before long, the vehicle would in fact be in front of them, when Matt and Claire received a surprise invitation to see their Polaris being built at the Pilato factory in Italy.

Co-op and Superior at Pilato factory

Seeing Their Vehicle During The Build Process

“We have never had the opportunity to see one of our hearses mid production,” said Matt, “so we jumped at the opportunity to head out to the factory. Being able to see the hearse – plus others that were further down the line – helped us visualise the end result far better than a picture ever could. We spent time talking with the Pilato team working on our hearse to explain our vision. It was an amazing experience.”

Matt and Claire were even able to personalise some of the design, as Kevin from Superior UK explained.

“During their visit to the Pilato factory, Claire and Matt secretly signed the inside of the hearse during the build process,” he said, “and we installed a little plaque under the bonnet dedicating the vehicle to its new owner.” 

Matt Turner Claire McGinty Southern Co-op signing car at Pilato factory

Adding A Personal Touch

“It was so nice to be able to add a personal touch to the hearse by writing a little message inside,” said Matt. “We knew our team would find and read it when we took delivery – a really special touch.”

The finished vehicle was finished in Mercedes Tenorite grey metallic. The interior has lots of LED lighting, grey laminate decking, a black leather interior trim and white quilted stitching. Pilato installed some custom perspex window trims which allow for the discrete display of illuminated name plates. 

Southern Co-op Polaris 02

Southern Co-op was the first to order a Polaris hearse, and the first to take delivery in the South of England.

“It’s great to get our hands on this amazing car,” said Matt. “It is everything that we had hoped it would be. Working with Superior and Pilato has been great. We really value the close relationship we have built up with Superior over the years, and look forward to continuing this for many years to come.”

Southern Co-op is a regional, independent co-operative owned by its 140,000+ members. As well as food and funeral branches, it also runs two crematoria and a natural burial ground which reaffirm the co-operative’s sustainable business approach and commitment to providing a fair, fresh approach for all.

First UK Polaris Hearse Is Hand-Signed During Build By Southern Co-op is a blog from Superior UK. The main Superior UK website is here.

William T Fraser & Son First In Highlands To Take Delivery Of PilatoMercedes Polaris 

William T Fraser & Son took delivery of their Polaris Mercedes hearse in July, they became one of the first funeral directors in the UK to run this stunning new design concept from Pilato.

Director Martin Fraser, who represents the third generation of this family business, explains why the Polaris gets a resounding thumbs-up from him and all his team.

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“We wanted to add a new hearse to our existing fleet of a vintage Daimler and E Class Mercedes,” said Martin. “I started looking around and realised most modern hearses are quite unattractive. Why should we have to buy ugly hearses? Superior UK and Pilato offer something very different and exciting. Kevin came all the way from Berkshire to Inverness to talk to us about the Polaris.”

Kevin Smith from Superior UK was delighted to tell Martin and his family about the PilatoMercedes E-Class Polaris hearse, which is still new to the UK. It’s a modern take on traditional hearse design, with sleek lines and distinctive Polaris aesthetics. Large side glasses, a glass tailgate, and LED illumination give an incredible sense of space, with the high-tech specification taking this hearse to a new level.

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“Since that first long-distance visit to talk us through the options, Superior have continued to be a great help,” says Martin. “The ordering process was very smooth and we were able to personalise the specification, interior, and exterior. Greg from Superior was on hand right through to delivery day. I couldn’t be happier with the build quality, fit, and finish. It’s an absolutely stunning vehicle.”

Martin isn’t the only one who thinks the Polaris is the most eye-catching hearse around. Luckily, his whole team agree.

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“I did a blind test of all the hearses on the market,” Martin says. “I showed every member of staff a photo of all the cars we could have chosen, making sure to remove the vehicle names first. They all picked the Polaris, without knowing it was the car I was considering.”

Martin likes to keep ahead of the game, and he has the first Obsidian black Polaris in Scotland. It has already become the show stopper of the William T Fraser fleet.

William T Fraser Fleet

“People are coming up especially to see it,” says Martin, “and it’s received incredible feedback from families. The Polaris is one way of showing our dedication to bringing the best possible service to families.

“We are over the moon with the vehicle, and with the service from Superior UK. We are very proud to be one of the first funeral directors in the UK to take ownership of a Pilato hearse.”

William T Fraser & Son First In Highlands To Take Delivery Of PilatoMercedes Polaris is a blog post from Superior UK – the main Superior UK website is here.

Custom Removal Vehicle Is The Perfect Fit For Tomalin & Son

Every vehicle in your fleet should fit your business needs and budget. There’s no sense in running a vehicle that’s too large for your logistics. When Tomalin & Son independent funeral directors wanted a new removal vehicle, they needed a smart but small solution which could navigate the narrow roads of their local area. Superior UK helped them find the ideal solution.

 

Tomalin Proace by Superior UK

Tomalin & Son’s stylish new Proace

Tomalin & Son’s previous removal vehicle was a a Mercedes-Benz Vito supplied by Superior UK. After several years, it was time for an upgrade. Manager Kris Philips worked with Jon Helm, Superior UK’s Southern Salesman, to find a suitable vehicle that could be custom fitted with an appropriate deck system.

Kris was given free rein to research and source the ideal vehicle. After an in-depth search, he came up with the new Toyota Proace van. Superior UK had supplied Tomalin’s previous removal vehicle, and Kris knew they had the experience and expertise to help kit out the new Proace.

“Kris contacted us to discuss an upgrade to their existing Vito,” says Jon. “We showed him the latest Vitos, but soon realised this vehicle is too large for the type of driving Tomalin do. Vehicles seem to be getting bigger, but rural roads are not!”

The Toyota Proace was an excellent alternative to the Mercedes-Benz Vito. It’s a new vehicle to the market and has a smart, dignified look (almost like a mini Vito). The size of the Proace is ideal for the type of deck Tomalin need. After some efficient consultations, Superior UK got the ball rolling.

Tomalin Proace side

Side access to the new decking system

A Smaller Vehicle For Rural Driving

Kris ordered a new van from Toyota, who delivered it directly to Superior UK. As soon as it landed, the team at Superior UK started on the deck build. The Proace was transformed from empty van to a purpose-built removal vehicle in a matter of weeks.

“Many of our removal vehicles have our Rise&Fall decking system, but Tomalin had no need for it,” explains Jon. “There’s no point commissioning a vehicle which is excessive to your needs. So we designed a single fixed deck which fitted the way Tomalin work. Henley-on-Thames is an old town with a narrow bridge and small roads. The Toyota van is an attractive prospect when space is tight. It has the scope to include plenty of useful details in a custom fit.”

Superior UK always work with the customer to ensure their vehicle suits how they plan to use it. Jon took time to listened to Tomalin’s needs and understand which items they carry on a day to day basis.

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Ample Storage And Easy Access

“We made sure all of the items fit into the draw mechanisms of custom deck,” he explains. “There’s a large under-deck storage compartment draw at the rear which also forms the ramp, and another a draw accessed either side by a sliding door. This set up gives Tomalin ample storage for everyday essential items, including their first call stretcher. And it looks beautiful, too, fully lined out in burr walnut.”

Kris is delighted with his custom fit Toyota Proace. The new removal vehicle was his project, and he couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out. Tomalin now have a new removal vehicle which looks smart, dignified, and professional. It handles the narrow roads of Henley-on-Thames and will be an asset to the business as the weather turns cold and icy. Inside the vehicle is neat and tidy, helping Tomalin’s team carry out their duties efficiently and smoothly.

Custom Fit In A Matter Of Weeks

“Kris likes our deck system, and we are delighted to have found him a cost effective solution that fits his needs,” says Jon. “The entire process ran smoothly – he gave us the vehicle, went on holiday, and it was all done to his specifications by the time he returned to work.”

Tomalin & Son is a locally owned independent family company which has been in the Jones family for over 60 years. They are situated in the heart of Henley-on-Thames. Superior UK are just down the road in Reading, but serve customers all over the UK and are present to oversee every vehicle delivery and handover.

This is a blog post from Superior UK Automotive – the Superior UK new and used car website is here.

Adam Collier Funeral Services’s Decked-Out Removal Vehicle Turns Heads

Adam Collier Funeral Services was started by Adam Collier in 2012, and has rapidly grown to cover a large rural area of North Yorkshire from two offices. After 6 years of business (and a significant amount of mileage!), the firm’s removal vehicle needed an upgrade.

Adam Collier receiving his removal vehicleWhen Adam decided to replace his old removal vehicle, he talked to Superior UK about the possibilities of a purpose-built custom vehicle. The result of those discussions was this professional looking, hard-working custom Ford Transit: the perfect combination of reliable workhorse and professional brand representative.

“Our first removal vehicle was purchased from a garage,” says Adam. “It has served us well, but was never our ideal choice of removal vehicle. It was an early purchase which has seen us through the first few years of the business. But after 6 years, I knew we needed to upgrade.”

Adam’s business covers a vast area of mostly rural postcodes, including a large swath of the North Yorks moors. Every trip to the Crematorium involves at least an hour’s driving, and some trips can mean going to York and Scarborough hospitals to retrieve 3-4 bodies.

Adam knew he needed a serious removal vehicle that could withstand some serious milage, but look great and show off the highly professional and caring image of the business.

“I knew Superior UK provides new hearses and limousines,” he says, “so I got in touch with them to see about a new removal vehicle. I hadn’t appreciated quite how many options are possible when you go for a custom build!”

Adam Collier Transit DeckingAdam started the business by himself, and he now has 2 offices, 4 full-time members of staff, and does around 150 funerals a year. His vehicles need to reflect the professional, modern values of this independent funeral firm. Superior UK’s Northern representative, Greg Platt, visited Adam to discuss the scope of a new removal vehicle.

“I knew what kind of vehicle I wanted,” says Adam. “Greg showed us the different types of decking we could have and talked through all the specs. We opted for the grey decking on the bottom, with the wooden decking to come down when we visit private residences. We cover such a large area that we need purpose built decking. It means we can bring everyone back into our care without needing 2 vehicles or multiple trips. The final result is a spacious and adaptable vehicle which looks much more professional than our previous removal vehicle.”

Adam Collier Transit Custom Graphic SideKevin Smith of Superior UK was delighted to help Adam with his first purchase from Superior.

“The vehicle was built to order,” he explains. “Our Northern representative Greg worked with Adam, advising all the finer details ensuring everything was to Adam’s exact requirements. We are proud of the finished product, and happy to hear it is doing such a good job for Adam.”

Left Greg Platt Superior, Right Adam CollierAdam’s new removal vehicle looks so good that it has garnered praise from employees and families.

“We are even using it on a funeral soon,” he says. “The family didn’t want a hearse, and when we picked up using the Ford Transit, the wife noticed how smart it is inside, and asked if we can use it for the funeral.”

Any removal vehicle needs to be hard-working and reliable, but when you cover such a large rural area these qualities come to the fore.

“This is our workhorse vehicle,” explains Adam. “It needs to look good, perform well, and withstand the miles – because we rack them up very quickly! It’s great that we could commission something a bit special even thought this isn’t a hearse or a limo.”

As Adam discovered, removal vehicles can be as well thought out as any other fleet vehicle, helping promote the values of your business and strengthening your brand in the local area.

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

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.