The Last Car You’ll Ever Need: 1959 Cadillac Superior Crown Royale Landaulet

The auction is ending just a few days too late to take this hearse to Hell—Michigan, that is, for this year’s Hearse Fest—but that just means that the new owner will have nearly a year to get ready for next year’s show! This is a rare bird with a name as long as the vehicle itself, a 1959 Cadillac Series 75 Crown Royale Landaulet three-way hearse by Superior, and it’s on offer on eBay out of Scottsdale, Arizona, with the reserve not yet met and bidding over $33,000 as of this writing.

This coach looks plenty sharp enough now, but it has really only been cleaned up since being extracted from the storage warehouse of the funeral home in Sonora, Mexico, where it saw service from 1962 to 1989. The seller claims that with a “full or light restoration” it would be a six-figure car. Apparently these Crown Royale Landaulet hearses clean up nice and easy; the model was instantly familiar to me as the same type of hearse bought out of a junkyard and returned to its shiny glory with just a single automatic carwash in the 1971 film Harold and Maude.

Superior was long seen as the top-of-the-line in hearses, and the dramatic Landaulet, with its distinctive landau irons and space age wraparound rear window, shows a masterful ability to complement the factory styling of the outlandish base car. Funeral directors responded to the ’59 Cadillac’s wild styling as enthusiastically as regular consumers: sales were up 37% over 1958, to a total of 2,267 professional cars (also including ambulances and flower cars). I suspect that this Caddy originally had a padded vinyl roof; the paint is said to be a cheap respray, although it may have originally been a similar hue, as 21 colors were offered. I think a navy roof might set off the blue nicely if you don’t want to go the cliché black route.

The “three-way” part of the car’s name refers to the three options for loading the back with its—ahem—cargo: the traditional route, through the rear door, or through either of the extra-wide side doors. The platform at the rear rides on a track for extra-smooth loading. I can envision a particularly enterprising new owner mounting a mobile espresso shop or some such on this platform; pull into the farmer’s market, open whichever door is most convenient, pull it out, and ka-ching!

While all of the curtains and fittings in the rear are intact and original, the driver’s compartment could use a bit of freshening. It also conceals a patch in the driver-side floor and “a few other small spots on the underside” that need attention on this otherwise-dry desert car. All of the Mexican registration stickers from 1962 to 1989 are intact on the windshield as well, a cool bit of this car’s history.

Underhood, we see the impressive results of a claimed “light detail” on the 390-CID V8. All systems have been returned to running and drivable as well, although there may yet be some bugs to work out of the various systems. This Caddy has a big asking price to go with its, shall we say, grand stature, but it’s amazingly complete and comes with a lot of great history and unique style. Clearly this type of car is not to everyone’s taste, but if you don’t mind standing out, there are few hearses—or anything else, for that matter—that will do so as effectively as this one!

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Comments

  1. BronzeGiant

    Gorgeous!

    • Sam

      No, drop dead gorgeous

  2. Peter S.R. Member

    “… who ya gonna call ?”

    • Howard A Member

      This looks like “Ecto 1” in street clothes on it’s way to work.

  3. Woodie Man

    Can’t remember but I think Neil Youngs hearse was a ’48 Buick Roadmaster named Mort….then he had a ’53 Pontiac Hearse and wrote Mr Soul on the way across the border…… Illegally I might add. Always wanted one…..

    • CarNut from Winnipeg Member

      If you have not read his two autobiographies they are pretty good and as much about cars as about music.

  4. Superdessucke

    Bidding is very lively!

  5. Paul

    In high school a buddy had a ’48 Caddy hearse. What a blast we had in that monster!!
    Many stories that can’t be repeated!

  6. Ken Carney

    If I could have it, I’d sort out any system problems and then use it as a cadaver
    transport vehicle. Here in Florida, this is
    a growing business, where the drivers are
    well paid. The market is such that if you
    can pass the state exams, you could use the family minivan to make extra cash moving bodies from the morgue to university medical schools. Here’s a chance for me to create a job for my BIL
    who needs a job in the worst way. Not only that, he loves hearses so this would be a great fit. What a business opportunity this would be!

    • ACZ

      Could my BIL go along for the ride?

      Like 1
    • Pookie Jamie P

      Ken. I live in Florida. Tell me more about this transport business. shamus302000@yahoo.com

  7. Richard Holmes

    Guess I’ll have to be content with just gazing at the photos.

  8. Bob Cook

    This,no doubt, was built here in my hometown of Lima,Ohio. The company has gone through numerous owners and name changes,along with mergers and acquisitions.The parent company is Accubuilt and builds hearses under the Superior, Sayers & Scovill, Eureka,and Miller-Meteor name plates.

  9. the one

    In the ’70s our band had 2 1962 caddy hearses, mine was like this one with the 3 way table, my guitar player, Jack had the hearse ambulance combo. so, we would put the table out, place the amps etc. and roll it back in. It was both manual and electric.the picture from the rear shows the small pull out handle, lower right, that releases the table or starts the motor. Our band was named “”Unity” nothing to do with the cars although we did write a song called “flash cad” about the 2 cars. OK so who remembers the gym that became 24 hr Nautilus?, Grecian health spa, anyway their catch phrase was “I want your body” we had “I want your body” bumper stickers. “I want your body” was the last lyric of the tune, repeated 4 times screaming at the tops of our lungs. that tune “rocked!”

  10. Tommy D

    Didn’t know about Hearse Fest, but the Vista Cruiser group used to do a trip to Hell, and they keep talking about reviving it!

  11. Darryl

    As of 7:12 p.m. (Ontario, Canada) the bidding was at $39,100.01
    with 1 day and 3 hours to go.

    • Miguel

      The prices for the ’59s have skyrocketed since the movie came out.

      Back in 1985 I gave away a 1959 Sedan De Ville and a 1959 hearse. I was not impressed with either of them.

  12. Miguel

    Whoever wrote this “Superior was long seen as the top-of-the-line in hearses” knows nothing about hearses.

    The S&S coaches were far superior, sorry, to the Superior.

    The Eureka coaches were far better than anything Superior had ever produced.

    If you have ever drove a Eureka, who used lead to meld the hearse parts to the Cadillac parts and then drove a Superior who used fiberglass, you would know the difference.

    On my last Superior, a 1969 model, the roof would shake as I would drive down the road. That would never happen on a Eureka.

    For the record the M&Ms were the worst.

    • john

      What a cool nugget of Cadillac/hearse information !!! (RIP) HaHaHa

    • SMOKEY Member

      As a funeral director and buyer of hearses, the best on the market used to be Packard Henny’s. Indestructible and would go on forever. We bought a new one in 1958 and it was still in service in 1970. Never spent a nickel on repairs, just good maintenance. It also had a three-way table and well as a leveler for the whole coach. No matter what incline or surface it was parked on, the coach could be made to be absolutely level. That is vital for easy casket removal.

      • Miguel

        SMOKEY, I was talking about the ’60s cars which is where I have my experience.

        The Henneys were before that but I do not doubt you at all.

  13. Al

    In college, I had a 1964 hearse that my seller had modified. It’s had a sparkle gold paint job, brown vinyl top, sunroof and flared rear wheel wells and 50’s on the back. The inside had the casket bed cut down, 4 bucket seats, and archway to the back with wood paneling and shag carpeting on the ceiling. Everyone I knew hated it. BTW, I was working in a funeral parlor at the time!

    • Cris Catte

      I absolutely love hearses, and hearing your description of the ’64 you owned, like everyone, I absolutely hate it as well! Perhaps you acquired a good deal purchasing the vehicle from it already being in such a disrespectful state as described. However, if you modified it to such a sacrilegious state, then may god have mercy on your soul!

  14. Michael Shook

    Oh well…shucks, just saw a newspaper ad that read: FOR SALE. 1959 Cadillac hearse. Body in good condition!

  15. Miguel

    I just noticed the Mexican plates and stickers.

    I wonder what papers this guy has for this car.

    All we have here in Mexico is the original bill of sale for a car that gets transferred from person to person.

    I read through the whole ad and there is nothing in the Ebay listing about the title work.

    That question would have to be asked.

  16. Miguel

    The reserve has been met and it is almost at $40,000.

    I am going to have to buy that black one I was offered in Monterrey for $250,000 pesos. That is about $15,000.

    I could make a killing.

  17. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Winning bid:US $40,004.00
    [ 49 bids ]

  18. James

    Thanks for this story…it was a Real Interesting Piece…

  19. BMWTtundraGuy

    I LOVE the bodystyle!!!! A bit worried about the wavy sides, hopefully paint and not bondo induced. I would strip all the hearse parts and pieces and follow Al’s idea of installing bucket seats. I would upgrade the interior appropriately, add A/C, and freshen up the body. Then drive it in style!!!! The body is killer!!!! I am not an “out there” kind of guy, but the styling of this thing is epic!!!! $40+K!!!!!!!! Somebody has plans for this driving piece of artwork!! I would love to see this masterpiece brought to its full potential!!!!! If the buyer is a BF’er, it would be very fun to see what it becomes!!!

    • Miguel

      If you did that there would be a lot of guys with the Professional Car Society putting a hit out on you.

      Why destroy a beautiful car like this?

      Like 1
      • Cris Catte

        My sentiments exactly!!!

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