Halloween Prop? 1953 Cadillac Hearse/Ambulance

Cadillac built nearly 110,00 automobiles in 1953 and a small number of them were converted into ambulances and hearses by Meteor Motor Car Co. If you need to be taken to the hospital or to your final resting place, what better way to go than in a Cadillac! This Meteor creation is a combination ambulance and hearse, so it presumably could handle whatever came along. It’s been sitting outdoors for more than 30 years and is as rough as any you could find. The Caddy is in Creedmoor, North Carolina, and available here on eBay where the current bid is $710. If this were yours, what would you do with it?

The most common 1953 model was the Series 62, which represented more than three-quarters of Cadillac production that year. We assume that was the basis for this conversion. They were distinguished by two large “bullets” as part of the front bumper. They were the first production automobiles to be fitted with a 12-volt electrical system. The car’s powerplant was 20 percent larger than the year before at 331 cubic inches and 210 horsepower. While most Caddy’s that year came with a 4-speed Hydra-Matic, some were fitted with the Buick Dynaflow due to a fire at Cadillac’s transmission plant. Contrary to popular belief, these cars were not gas guzzlers, capable of 20 mpg out in the country. Thanks, 1953 Cadillac Fansite, for the skinny on these cars.

This 1953 Cadillac is a conversion built by Meteor Motor Car Co out of Piqua, Ohio. The brainchild of a go-getter named Maurice Wolfe, the company was in business from 1915-56. Wolfe and the company would be involved in a variety of projects and lines of business and converting luxury vehicles into ambulances and hearses was one of them. Meteor is said to have pioneered the direct sales of funeral vehicles to mortuaries through advertising that eliminated dealers and salesman, thus enabling them to lower their prices.

While we’re not certain of how their conversion process worked, their limousine-style combination ambulance/hearse featured things like fancy paneling and draperies, folding stretcher, attendant seats, and flower boxes, one elaborate for funeral work and the other plain for ambulance duty. Given what’s left of this vehicle, we’ll assume ambulance work was the life’s work of this Cadillac. Check out the Meteor Motor Company here.

We’re told that this transport was literally put out to pasture some 30 years ago and has been there ever since. To say that it has rust issues is an understatement and falling tree limbs have damaged several body panels. The frame is said to be in good shape, while the floor pans and rocker panels are in bad shape. The vehicle is about 95 percent complete and has 72,000 miles on the odometer, which we presume is accurate. You won’t find things much better with the vehicle’s mechanical condition as the engine is stuck. But it will roll for loading onto a trailer.

Given the limited level of interest in the bidding, not a lot of folks have visions for this 67-year-old relic. So, it begs to ask what would you do with it if you bought it? If could make a great Halloween prop, but would take considerable effort and money to get there. Or you could buy it for parts, but there doesn’t look like there’s a lot of good stuff left that you could transfer to another Cadillac, assuming it would fit a passenger car.

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Comments

  1. JACKinNWPA JACKinNWPA Member

    What would I do? I would set it on a late model truck chassis, weld the rear side doors and windows and make a sweet sedan delivery.

    Like 13
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    Restoring this would be scary. I’m not sure if I could bring it back from the dead, but somebody could probably resurrect it. Sorry for digging up the bad puns.

    Like 15
    • Lou Tripper

      I died with laughter.

      Like 6
      • Steve Clinton

        Well, here’s your ride!

        Like 4
  3. Neal Stambaugh

    Cadillac built the series 75 commercial chassis expressly for conversion to hearse or ambulance use.

    Like 7
    • Will Fox

      Correct, and THIS one started life as a hearse–based on the interior trim, or what’s left of it.

      Like 11
  4. Little_Cars

    Is the script right above the “Cadillac” on the front fender calling out “LaSalle?” What gives? I’d love this as a project if the tree hadn’t mucked up three tons of sheet metal and iron at the front of the car. Although, a front clip shouldn’t be too hard to source. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Like 5
  5. geezerglide85

    If you look close this is one rare beast. It has to be one the very last standard shift Cadillacs made. This may end up as a parts car, and I’m sure somebody will want that setup. I think that by ’53 stick shift was special order only. Some of you Caddy guys may know more.

    Like 8
    • Little_Cars

      Last year for manual transmission was 1951 on standard series Cadillacs; 1952 on Series 75.

      I do know of at least one case in which a woman specially ordered a stick shift Cadillac – either on a 1952 or 1953.

      Standard shift wouldn’t again be available on a Cadillac product until 1982 – on the Cimarron.

      Like 2
    • TouringFordor

      It is not unusual for a special bodied vehicle to have a chassis from the year (or two?) before the unit was titled. It may be some time between when the chassis was ordered and the unit was completed.

      Like 2
  6. Bob C.

    I think it would make a fairly decent camper.

    Like 5
  7. Kenneth Carney

    Doesn’t look like much now, but boy do
    I have visions of what I would do with it
    if I had the chance. Too damn bad my
    checkbook doesn’t match my visions!
    They still use cars like this in Polk County Florida as new hearses are far too expensive for funeral homes there to buy. I recall seeing one in use in Winter Haven as late as 1993. Think it
    might’ve been a ’52 or thereabouts. It
    was dark blue and still looked good for
    its age. Used to see it parked at the Crisp Coon funeral home down on 6th
    street quite a bit til the late ’90s when it
    disappeared for good. Makes me wonder how they kept it running for so
    long before selling it. At least that’s how the do it in the South.

    Like 7
  8. Little_Cars

    Funny how the maroon velvet has remained throughout but just about soaked up all the condensation and other moisture from sitting out. I rescued an old Califone record player with the same maroon velvet/felt on the turntable and it looked the same way before replacement. Deep red interior with a gunmetal exterior would be the way I’d go on this stick-shift Caddy! Too far gone to roll into my shop though. It would just sit some more.

    Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey

      Little_Cars,

      I’ve had several 1950’s hearses with the same maroon velvet mohair interior, both Cadillac and Packard [with a Pontiac Superior thrown in as well].

      The maroon material used in the making of these post war vehicles is an early Rayon derived synthetic, but it’s downfall is the backing is a woven organic material, like a tightly woven burlap. While the beautiful maroon “fur” holds up without rotting, the backing is what rots away. It looks OK until you try to clean it, then it falls apart.

      The good news is this material is still available today, because it was used in MANY pre-war US cars of the 1920s & 30s. [Note; the original pre-war materials were 100% organic, but the same look is achieved in the post-war synthetic materials available today.]

      Like 3
  9. Steve Clinton

    It would make a great surfmobile!

    Like 4
  10. Dusty Stalz

    Cadillac didn’t have bullets out front, they had Dagmars lol.

    Like 11
    • Johnny

      Well. THEY remind me of Dolly Parton. Like two mountains I saw deer hunting . My friend asked me how I kep my direction. I pointed and told him .Those are TITTIE MOUNTAINS. Keep them in sight and you will be alright. I like this old Caddy. Hope someone restores it.

      Like 3
      • Bill McCoskey

        My family was making a great western USA tour in the summer of 1963, when we stopped at Jackson Hole Wyoming. [Best sourdough pancakes I’ve ever had, even to this day!]

        My dad pointed to the twin huge mountain peaks in the distance and said they were the Gran Tetons mountains. The year before I had begun learning the French language in school. I snickered a bit, before bursting out in uncontrollable laughter, because I knew what “Gran Tetons” meant in French. To an 11 year old boy in 1963, this was absolutely hilarious!

        Like 1
  11. George Cassidy

    This bucket is a recipe for heartbreak. They should pay you to take it.

    Like 3
  12. Courtney

    El Camino it

    Like 4
  13. Rick

    it’s a shame that a lot of cars end up parked in fields when the owner feels there usefullness is over…which is absolutely the worst place you could possibly park something…moisture from grass and dirt being a killer of metal…

    Like 6
    • Lance

      Hey Rick, I know a worse place. Under trees! That way leaves collect moisture stays ,rots leaves and sheet metal.

      Like 2
      • stu

        Not all cars are desirable and this one is at the bottom…Why spend money on something like this and eventually if the new owner were to sell would not get their money back…Clearly it’s too big for a paper weight so it’s time to scrap….

  14. Jasper

    Warriors…come out to play-y-y-y…

    I know it’s the wrong year, but close enough and just had to.

    Like 6
  15. Bunky

    FYI: all ‘53 Caddys had the twin bullet grill treatment, not just the Series 62, and as Mr. Stambaugh noted, Cadillac offered the Series 75 Commercial Chassis for rigs like this.
    My Dad bought a ‘53 Series 62 in about 1955. Robin’s Egg Blue, to which he added a white top. It was quite a car! Autronic Eye, Wonder Bar Radio, and power windows. Pretty heady stuff in the early to mid ‘50s. We took a cross-country family trip each Summer. Dad was an unabashed lead foot, and I remember him being amazed that this Caddy could average 21-23 mpg- while he literally passed everything on the road.

    Like 4
    • Johnny

      My uncle had a baby blue with white top . Two door hard top in the 60,s and he said it was easy on gas. It was a really nice riding car and good looking too.

      Like 1
  16. Andrew Franks Member

    If you really want something bizarre this would be it. Convert it to something or restore it and drive it to your next special event.

    Like 3
  17. Kenn

    Last Responder.

  18. Eric

    Usually most professional cars such as hearse and or ambulances arrived at the coach builders as a chassis hood engine and fenders the rest is built in shop… sometimes front doors came too…

  19. Cjc

    Rat rod it up!!! Straight exhaust!! Make it super loud, do an oil smoke injection into the exhaust!! Monster stereo bumping out old school Snoop Dog and drive it !! Just piss everyone off!! Hahahaha 😂🤣😂🤣Just diabolical!!!

  20. gaspumpchas

    Man what a versatile vehicle, if the guy didnt make it to the horsepistol, you could haul him off to the funereal parlor. Someone is dying to take this on. Stay safe and good luck
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 3
  21. kimball4449

    be fun to give it a nice high lift kit on it,some big tires,leave the patina,make it a big ‘ol mud runner,,sure would turn some heads,i think,,watchout gravedigger!

    Like 1
  22. Phlathead Phil

    Just think: The Edmond Fitzgerald sank bringing ore ingots to build hulks like this.

    Although the E.F. went down years after this barge was created, it’s a grim reminder.

    Wouldn’t be caught DEAD in something like this.

    $750.00 is waaaay to much. Call the crusher.

    • gaspumpchas

      Yes Phil you are probably right, remember the Edmund Fitzgerald and the 29 brave souls that went down with the ship.
      Stay safe and good luck. Sorry off topic.
      Cheers
      GPC

    • Johnny

      Well I see it sold for $1,425.

      • stu

        No way…who would pay that much for a rust bucket!

  23. Dave S.

    I like it ! I’d rat rod it and have some fun ! I tried to buy an old 50’s hearse when I was a teen but the guy who had a yard full of old cars wouldn’t sell it. Sadly that whole yard full of cars eventually went for scrap.

    Like 1
    • Jon

      Soulds like a guy I knew in rural Louisiana … he had rows and rows of really old cars … he sold one and later learned the guy had re-sold it for many times more as the old guy didn’t know what he had … after that he wouldn’t sell any … that was forty years ago and I don’t know what happened to them …

      Like 2
  24. Bill McCoskey

    Correction for the original post . . .

    This is the first USA automobile to have 12 volt electrics.

    ALL vehicles built in Great Britain for use in the UK were equipped with 12 volt electrics. Those built for export to Europe & the USA typically had 6 volt electrical systems.

    That said, anyone who owns a British car equipped with 6 volt LUCAS headlights, and is in need of the hard to find LUCAS 6 volt headlight bulbs, let me know, I’ve got a couple dozen left over from when I closed my shop, all still in the original boxes.

    Like 2
    • Little_Cars

      Bill -You may be able to sell those off to the purists on the MG Experience online forum, under “Buy/Sell/Trade.” I’ve not had the dubious pleasure of owning a US Spec British car with 6 volt electrics, but I did enjoy sorting out an early Midget with positive earth that hadn’t fully “grounded” itself!

  25. Johnny

    Stu,it has more metal in it then any new vehicle on the road today. As a matter of fact. Look at cars or trucks now days that are 3-4 years old and look at the rust on them. What I am wonder and no one has said anything. I wonder if its haunted? I wouldn,t mind riding in it in the day time,but come dark–I let some one else take my place.

    Like 1
  26. stu

    Johnny,
    Your right, it’s not a real looker of a car…lol

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