Hearse? Ambulance? 1964 Buick Wagon

1964 Buick Hearse

I’m not 100% sure if this is a hearse converted to look like an ambulance or if it was an ambulance to begin with, although the owner and license plates suggest it’s a hearse. Either way, it’s a huge wagon in what looks like really nice shape. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Robert R for this great find! The car is located in New Carlisle, Ohio and is for sale here on craiglist for $5,000 or trade.

1964 Buick Hearse Interior

Under the hood looks great, I love the amount of space in the back, and it only has 50,000 original miles. The Buick looks and sounds terrific in this YouTube video posted by the seller. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t keep it as a hearse/ambulance, though; the lines on this big car don’t look awkward like some hearses, and I think it would look really good as just a large station wagon. I’d figure out some way to put a back seat in, install aftermarket air conditioning, remove the roof light and use the heck out of this car. Would you keep it looking as-is, or change the look to something else?

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Comments

  1. fred

    When this was new, one vehicle fulfilled both purposes. At least in small towns, there was no hospital affiliated ambulance service, so funeral homes took care of it. Probably not the best idea to have a company with a vested interest in you dying responsible for saving your life. The car shown is a local ’57 Chevy ambulance owned since new by a funeral home.

    In the town I used to live in, the downtown is built around a round lake. In the 50’s the government accidentally bombed a farmhouse during training exercises. The local funeral home picked up the barely alive farmer and drove in circles around the lake until he expired.

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    • JS

      fred –

      An internet search hasn’t uncovered the ’50s bomb incident you mention. Please add a link or more specifics so that one can learn more.

      Attached is a link to the 10 US nuclear bomb accidents which at number 1 includes the killing of a cow when a B36 had a 25 ft long hydrogen bomb slip from its harness and fall through the bomber’s bay doors. Sadly there were military personnel who lost their lives in a couple of the events. Not all accidents were over US territory.

      http://listverse.com/2014/11/03/10-times-the-military-accidentally-dropped-nuclear-bombs/

      Perhaps this “story is just for entertainment as the thought of an American businessman being so incompetent that he would encourage or permit an employee to commit a moral, ethically and potentially criminal act as you describe is truly disturbing.

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  2. jlschmidt

    In the 70s the police had to force a funeral employee in a small Nebraska town to take the injured guy to the hospital first and then come back for the dead one in a car wreck. The guy told the police “we don’t make any money on the live ones.”

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    • JS

      jlschmidt –

      This “story” could be used to create a negative stereotype of a Nebraska bungling bozo driver of limited intellect (scary) with no knowledge of the company’s billing procedures for transporting sick or injured men, women and children. Not to mention the costs incurred for cleaning that are part and parcel of ambulance services. Sorry, “story” would earn a Car Talk “bogus” methinks.

      The Buick Combination however is unique and somewhat charming….

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  3. DonM

    I think these were called Combination Cars. I would assume a 401 Nailhead or bigger.

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  4. Rocco Member

    I’d leave it as is. I think it’s cool. For some reason those tail lights look like ’63, but hell, I was only 15 at that time, and not really checking out Buick wagons.

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  5. DonM

    You’re right – those ARE 63 tail lights! It might be a 425… it is pretty cool. There should be a second rear floor with rollers.

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    • Rocco Member

      Do you mean under the floor that is visible?

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      • Tim

        No. This is an ambulance. Unusual because Flxble usually only did combo cars. Note also recent that floor looks..could be a resto

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      • EmmyJ

        IIRC yes, there’s a second level under the floor, or the whole floor panel lifts out and flips over.

        I like hearses and hearse/ambulances. You’d have an awkward time turning one into a normal wagon, because of the raised roof.

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      • DonM

        Steve’s got it below

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  6. ImpalaGuy

    Grim Rides Hearse Club; “Don’t let your first ride in a hearse be your last.”

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  7. JW454

    This one must be a tough sell… I’ve been seeing it on my local “Craig’s list for a couple of years re-listed every few of days.
    Not a bad looking car but I guess there isn’t much of a market for these types of cars.

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  8. Randy

    I’d snap it up if I was closer, a steal for 5K in that condition. I’d rather have a 64 impala or biscayne wagon though.

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  9. jimbosidecar

    I’ve been looking for a Cadillac flower car (cross between a Caddy and an El Camino) If I had both the time and the cash I’d settle for this and cut away the roof in the back and make a bed out of it.

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  10. Leon

    In my plate collection I have a 60s Arkansas the says ambulance-hearse on bottom of plate

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  11. Dave at OldSchool

    Hmmm.. Would make a pretty good tow vehicle for Vintage road racing

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  12. trent mcmurtry

    This is my hearse I have been seeing negative comments about this car if anybody wants to come see it they’re more than welcome to this is a real flexible combination hearse have the documentation to prove it so if any one of you guys have any doubt that this car is not real or not as clean as it is please give me a call at 937 718 7546 and come look at it

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    • DonM

      Trent – I think it looks great, Can you give some details about the motor – what size? It doesn’t appear to have air conditioning?

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      • trent mcmurtry

        It is a 401 Nailhead

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    • JS

      trent mcmurtry –

      As DonM said, “it looks great”. Definitely a unique machine. Not certain the local authorities would accept the red lights in all states, but that doesn’t detract from the overall design – form follows function.

      Maybe it’s not “hearsey” enough for some of the admirers of former casket carriers.

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  13. Steve

    This is what’s called a “combination coach”. In some areas, the funeral home also operated the ambulance service. (Remember, ambulance service meant transportation for the sick, with little more than basic first aid provided.) Before a funeral, the beacon light would be removed, the stretcher would be removed, the attendant’s seats would be folded down, and rollers for the casket would be flipped over or placed on the floor. In some cases, a plate with the landau bars would also be placed over the rear windows. After the funeral, these would be reversed and the car would be an ambulance again. In the case of this particular car, built by coachbuilder Flxible, the casket rollers were not under the floor but on a separate rack that would be placed in the car and secured with a couple bolts. Flxible built hearses, ambulances, and combinations (and also built busses). These are pretty rare and I hope people do not entertain cutting up a rare, original vehicle to make a more “ordinary” custom station wagon out of it.

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    • DonM

      Thanks Steve – interesting info. It looks like a great buy if you have a place for it. It would be a shame to see it modified.

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  14. That Guy

    I’m also pretty surprised someone hasn’t snapped this up at the price. It’s a really cool vehicle and seems to be in excellent shape. Of course a hearse or ambulance isn’t everyone’s cup of embalming fluid, but at $5K this is cheap enough that some gearhead with a good sense of gallows humor could pick it up on a whim. Maybe if it was a Cadillac it would be an easier sell.

    I dig it.

    Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Try the fish.

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    • michel brent moore

      my parents owned a 1964 buick lesabre station wagon with the wildcat 425 or 455 engine car had air ps pb buddy seat in back luggage rack and rivieva style spoke buick hub caps built on ioina chassis and was a rare car but we didnt know it at the time. dad bought a 1969 buick electra limited and sold the station wagon to out neighbors father and the car went to indiana. I have only seen one other station like it over the years and one was a maroon wagon and the other was a silver hearse. The wagon we had was light olive green and was purchased in ashland kentucky.

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  15. Matt Donnell

    I have to agree with Steve here (is that you, Steve L.?) This being a Flixible makes it incredibly rare; doing anything to it to take it out of it’s original configuration would be a sin, and would also seriously de-value it!

    As for the stories about funeral home ambulance service – yeah, heard ’em all before. And It’s 99% BS. For a hundred years or more, funeral homes provided EMS for a large portion of the country. Some still are. They have chosen to include millions of dollars in upgrades to vehicles, equipment, and personnel salaries in order to provide service to their communities. Do you really think they would deliberately do stuff like letting a person die, even back in the old load and go days? I assure you -word would have gotten around pretty damn quick, and it would have put a huge dent in the business.

    I started out on a funeral home service. Worked for a few of them over the years. The closest it ever got to that kind of thing was this – at one company, we were instructed that if the situation looked extreme, we should be especially nice to the family. Other than that, the two entities – funeral home and ambulance service – were pretty much operated separately from each other. Some few of us, like me, chose to work both sides of the business; otherwise – hell, there were even different payrolls.

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  16. Steve

    Matt, yes, it’s me. Steve L. You know I know my Flxibles!

    Trent, nothing bad about your car at all. If I sell some of mine, I’d be interested. I think it’s awesome (there are just practical concerns…).

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    • trent mcmurtry

      I would love to see some pictures of your flexibles

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  17. Dave (CO)

    Beautiful car! I’ve always wanted one, but my wife isn’t nearly as thrilled with the idea.

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  18. Woodie Man

    @Trent: Can you lay out some more details. Did the car come from California with those circa 2005 plates?Does the floor flip over and contain rollers? Whats the dash and drivers ompartment like? Is this the factory color? Whats the history of the car?

    Thanks

    Its a beautiful car.

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    • trent mcmurtry

      yes it was in California for a while and was brought back to Ohiothat is the factory color of the carand if you can shoot me your number I can send you pictures of the dash

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  19. trent mcmurtry

    Seat is still clean

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  20. trent mcmurtry

    Dash is in great shape

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    • trent mcmurtry

      .

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  21. Skip

    This Buick is a “ringer” for a 1965 Buick National combination once owned by Tim Fantin of Merillville, IN. I got to see Tim’s car in 1999 and even got to drive it; and it drove like a dream. But Tim either sold or leased it to a guy who was making a movie and repainted it a dark Navy blue. He got it back and sold it to another guy in IN, who messed up the engine. Last time I heard it was still sitting on Tim’s property. I’d like to know more about this one. As I said, Tim’s was a National conversion, but I’m not sure about this one. Has to be either a National or Flxible. Trinity Coach in Duncanville, TX built some very nice Buick coaches, but they were in existence only from 1965 to 1968. A funeral home in Dimmit, TX had a nice 1968 Trinity-Buick ambulance that I got to work out of a time or two when it was relatively new car. It was given to the hospital in Dimimit in the early ’70s and I haven’t seen it since.

    OK…I went back and took a closer look at this car. It is a 1964 Flixbile “Flxette” (the short wheel-based model). It was built as a service car. It belonged for some time to Michael Hennessy who works for C-W Coach in Cincinnati. He recently sold it and the current owner put the “ambulance conversion” on it. Take a look at the interior: there’s no jump seat.

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