Beacon Ray Equipped: Miller Meteor Ambulance

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Blame it on Ghostbusters. Ever since seeing that movie, I’ve had a fascination with the Miller-Meteor Cadillac emergency wagons like this one here on eBay. Perhaps it’s because my experience with ambulances has been limited to the clunky-looking Ford vans with what could pass for a U-Haul cargo box on the rear. These Miller-Meteor converted Cadillacs oozed style despite often being saddled with grim tasks, from responding to accidents to ferrying the dead in the back of a hearse conversion. Now, they are sharp collectibles with an interesting story to tell. 

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The story of Miller-Meteor is a fascinating one. I won’t relay all the details here, but they were a force to be reckoned with in the business of building all sorts of special use vehicles on the Cadillac commercial chassis. Specializing in ambulances and funeral cars gave the company a lock on the market until changing regulations made the wagon design obsolete. Too bad since they sure were pretty in addition to being highly functional. The interior remains in very original condition and the seller doesn’t cite too many flaws. The Cadillac is said to wear only 44,700 miles – anyone think it’s genuine?

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This photo gives you an idea of the clever packaging Miller-Meteor built into its vehicles. I don’t know much about what makes one ambulance design better than another, but this one is said to be extra special due to being an ambulance / hearse combination. This model incorporated a unique roof design with a narrow rear pillar and the hearse-style lighting inside. The idea was to outfit the wagon in such a way that it could easily swap between being used as an ambulance or a hearse depending on need. Color me surprised when I learned that funeral homes used to offer emergency services in addition to their primary duties!

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The seller has already done some work on this Miller-Meteor to determine its mechanical health. How refreshing it is to see a seller willing to invest a little bit of time in the vehicle they’re peddling. The Cadillac is said to run and drive, and the engine stays cool even while idling for 30 minutes at a time. The biggest issue will be bodywork, since there is rust visible in the rocker panels and also where the fender skirts mount to the body. Most important, however, is that the siren and beacon ray are 100% functional. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Rich for the find!

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Comments

  1. boxdin

    As a long time van converter for 20 years we were asked to make some interesting vans. One was a funeral coach based on a Dodge Maxi, with up to 5 bereaved in the middle bench seat w a full divider behind them, and the deceased rode in the back w rollers in the floor and all. We put a black vinyl top with landau irons and the rest of the van was dark grey. At the gravesite they opened the side doors w speakers in them and played the music requested. This was primarily used on the Navajo reservation.
    The concept has been around for a while.

  2. Rick

    I bet the he 44K is original miles, especially if it served a small town with a hospital, and even if it may had done double duty as a hearse. And besides, most ambulances are taken out of service after just a few years. And with gas costing what it has for most of the life of this one, bet whoever ended it up after its official duty days were over probably didn’t drive it much anyway. And still crazy fins even on that year Cadillac.

  3. RON

    worked for small town funeral service in 62-63 in high school that did double duty service, drove a lot of these 62 caddys like this and 61 olds and Pontiacs. very unique cars the combo’s like these often had no p.s but power brakes and had sliding weights in the body for corner handling. do very high speeds in unbelieavable curves for ambulance service. brings back old memories as a 17 year old kid, was quite a thrill.

  4. Roselandpete

    Cool.

  5. Van

    There’s something weard in the neighborhood

  6. Amicus

    Spent university and law school years driving an ambulance version for a funeral home. Before gov’t run ambulance service funeral homes in large cities and small in Ontario Canada ran an ambulance as a service (+advertising name recognition). They had staff on hand and there was a steady non-emergency patient transfer business with no lights or siren in use so nobody knew we were going by. Seat in the back was for the attendant but low headroom and awkward position made working on the patient difficult so truck/van conversions quickly became the preferred vehicle and as services standardized the only one

  7. doc

    The hearse ambulance was for small towns made it affordable

  8. John Taggart

    growing up in small central rural NY finger lakes area town with family that ran a funeral home we had use a couple of times when needing a wagon of a 1960 Pontiac wagon which doubled as a station wagon and ambulance it was marketed I believe by Miller and was called an Ambelwagon I was a teenager and my Dad borrowed it a couple of times and when flying down the road would occasionally run the siren when “he thought ” there was no one around

  9. Andrew

    They still use these types of Ambulances in Europe, usually based on Mercedes-Benz E class coach conversions.

  10. Greg S

    The military purchased their share of these vehicles. I have faint memories of riding in one as a young child to be transferred from a Navy facility to a hospital for surgery. As I remember it was painted battleship grey.

  11. ben

    looks like a 1960 dash body is 62 a lot of rust for such low milage better black for holloween

    • Miguel

      You are the first to notice that. On the commercial chassis, Cadillac kept the 1960 dash and the wrap around windshield even though they went to a flatter windshield in 1961 for the normal passenger cars.

      In 1963 the dash used was the normal 1963 dash but the commercial chassis still had the wrap around windshields up until 1964. 1965 they went to the flatter commercial windshield.

      I know you say in the description that you lust after a Miller-Meteor car, but of the coach manufacturers they had the worst fit quality.

      Superior, Eureka and of course S&S were much better. Go take a look at an S&S coach. The quality is amazing compared to an M&M.

      Also until they closed in 1964 Eureka used metal to mold the coach bodies to the Cadillac bodies. M&M used fiberglass. The M&Ms rattle down the road like crazy.

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