Spooky Survivor: 1959 Cadillac Hearse

I’m sure that we have a few readers who will breathe a sigh of relief when I assure them that I’m not about to suggest that someone transform this 1959 Cadillac Superior Royal Crown Hearse into a clone of the Ecto-1 out of “Ghostbusters.” Instead, this vehicle would make a quirky and interesting addition to someone’s garage, and it is guaranteed to grab plenty of attention at a Cars & Coffee. Its original features remain intact, and its overall condition means that some light cosmetic restoration work could potentially see it returned to its original role. The Cadillac is located in Carmel, Indiana, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The BIN of $79,000 means that this is not a cheap project car. However, there are currently 279 people watching the listing. This suggests that it has generated plenty of interest.

Getting the Ghostbusters idea out of the way early would seem to be a wise move. There’s no doubt that a clone could be created using this vehicle, but some significant differences would mean that it wouldn’t be a faithful reproduction. The first of these is that the Ecto-1 is based on a hearse built by Miller-Meteor, and its side door configuration is very different from those on our feature vehicle. Loyal Ghostbusters fans would pick the differences immediately. Leaving that aside, this Cadillac is in pretty respectable condition. The Black paint shows its age quite dramatically, and it would benefit from a complete strip and a repaint. However, the panels remain straight, and there is no evidence of any rust problems. The Cadillac chrome and trim look good, while the Superior bespoke trim is also in excellent order. The landau top is free from problems, and the glass is clear and close to faultless. There is no doubting the regard that these vehicles are held in. I looked around the internet, and I spotted 1:18 diecast models of an identical Superior Crown Royal Hearse listed for sale.

Lifting the hood of the Cadillac produces a bit of the “wow” factor. These types of vehicles tend to lead a sheltered existence, but I wasn’t expecting an engine bay that looks this good. Under the hood is a 390ci V8, which is backed by a 4-speed Hydramatic transmission. The vehicle also features power steering and power brakes. This engine should be pumping out somewhere in the region of 345hp, but outright speed and acceleration are not what this car is all about. The reality is that most of the trips that a hearse makes will be at a pretty low speed, with most of the accumulated miles being covered at or below 30mph. The owner says that the odometer shows 45,000 miles, but he isn’t sure whether these are genuine. If the Superior has served as a hearse until relatively recently, this is possible. Even if it has rolled over, that is still pretty light work for a Cadillac drivetrain. The presentation under the hood isn’t going to deceive because this car is in sound mechanical health. It is said to start easily first go, and it has always been properly serviced.

The hearse’s interior is starting to show its age, but setting it right might not be a big job. There is no carpet, and the door trims are looking dirty. Job one would be to clean everything because the door trims might be able to be salvaged. As well as new carpet, new kick panels would be a wise investment. The dash pad is wrinkled, but that could potentially be stretched back into shape. The upholstery on the seat looks good, and there are no issues with the dash.

This is the business end of the deal with this car, and it remains unchanged from when it was transporting the dearly departed. In its glory days, it would have looked spectacular. However, time has caught up with it. There is no reason why this area couldn’t be restored because all of the underpinnings appear to be sound. The upholstery and carpet are tired and stained, and if this area is going to be returned to its best, it will need to be replaced. The woodwork and metal trim is in good order, and the rolling platform seems to function as it should.

At some point in our history, someone looked at the horse-drawn hearse and decided that there had to be a better way of doing things. Thanks to the development of the internal combustion engine, the automobile provided the perfect solution. Since the first of these vehicles hit the road, many companies have rolled out their own models. These have been based on cars from various manufacturers and have ranged from the basic to the prestigious. Transporting the recently deceased in a Cadillac Hearse allowed those who were left to mourn the opportunity to send that person out in style. This one has performed that role for decades, but it has now earned its retirement. If you decided to buy this classic, what would you do with it?

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Comments

  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    If you buy this you’d better have a big garage.

    Like 18
    • Stan Marks

      I think the operative word here, is ‘LONG’ garage.

      The quintessential year, for this Hearse, is definitely ’59.

      Like 7
    • stu

      Your all wrong…a big barn!

  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    There is a ’67 Cadillac Superior Hearse here in Tampa, painted in gold originally. It’s a stunning car to see. It’s drop-dead gorgeous!

    Like 6
  3. alphasud Member

    When I look at the lead picture with all the doors open it makes me think if a killer hornet would be a car this is what it would look like. The car on so many levels pushes my buttons. On one part this vehicle represents death and sorrow and on the flip it’s quite beautiful and the level of craft that went into its construction rivals anything Rolls or Bentley can produce. On a lighter note I wouldn’t be caught dead riding it this thing!

    Like 15
    • Dave

      I see what you did there…

      Like 3
  4. Ralph

    This is in incredible condition, the Crown Royale with the side doors and 3 way electric casket table was in expensive model, this was almost as much as an Eldorado Brougham new, something around $11,000 back then.

    Like 7
  5. wooky

    It needs a casket to ride around in the back to be a complete car, just sayin’.

    Like 9
    • William

      Obviously few on this site seem to have experienced recent loss. I would think that after this horrible year, people would have more empathy. If a funeral home were to buy this, fine, but for anything, or anyone else, it is morbid and uncaring to own it.

      Like 3
      • Dave

        We just buried my brother in law two weeks ago after he lost his battle with Agent Orange. Keeping this piece of history from the crusher is noble. With a significant number of automotive enthusiasts passing on what better way to carry them to their rest?

        Like 32
      • Jerry

        I’ve experienced a lot of ‘recent losses’ in my lifetime and it is impossible for me to recall a single family member of any of them commenting that a Lincoln hearse or any other would be more empathetic because of the model or make nor if it was owned by the funeral home. Remember, funerals are celebrations of the deceased’s life. Since I’m near joining my departed friends I’d find it appropriate to throw me into the back of an Army deuce and a half complete with those miserable flop down pews, loaded with friends, fine spirits and cold beer and let’er rip until they finally chunked me in the ground. Just sayin’.

        Like 19
      • Danny

        A funeral home most likely wouldn’t be interested in this, so versus going to the crusher this piece of history should be kept alive for any individual to do whatever they please with it. I don’t get that this would be a morbid act. The car served its first life transporting the deceased, that is all. I have lost many family members and a few friends and am not offended with what its purpose is from now on. That is none of my business.

        Like 11
      • stu

        William,
        Take it easy, life goes on and no one is happy with the current events….

        Like 5
      • Bill McCoskey

        William, Most funeral homes are not interested, first because of their belief an older hearse is unreliable, and second, because they need to keep their late model hearse in regular use to pay for it’s initial cost when new.

        That said, I know of multiple cases where vintage car lovers & owners have either made advance arrangements, or their surviving family members made arrangements, with car club members who own vintage hearses, to have them transported in their final ride, in a vintage hearse.

        Without these hearse owners, our vintage car loving friends would not have that opportunity of a great final ride. I hope my final ride is in a vintage hearse, a Henney-Packard is preferred.

        Like 2
  6. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    That is quite a price.
    This or a Ferrari F355 or a nice MOPAR.

    Like 3
    • stu

      UK Paul 🇬🇧,
      I’m with you, this car is unique but for this kind of cash there are plenty of fun cars to drive…you would have to build the garage first and the your house to make this work!

  7. wifewontlikeit

    WHAT A KILLER! It’s DROP DEAD gorgeous! A CAR TO DIE FOR! I must COFFIN up the cash to get it! At that price, I will be BURIED in debt.

    Like 22
    • Stephen Miklos

      Thanks need a good laugh!!😂😂😂

      Like 9
      • Steve Clinton

        I’m betting William didn’t think so!

        Like 8
    • stu

      wifewontlikeit ,
      Not a problem, let us make you more comfortable as we help you lay down to sleep in this beauty…

  8. Will Fox

    For those collecting professional vehicles, I doubt you will find a more complete `59 Superior hearse.And if the interior trim/carpet is the worse of the issues, this should be a fairly straight forward project to take on. (*Hey–all you need to buy is the front section of a `59 Cadillac carpet set! There’s some savings)

    Like 7
  9. Steve

    Have to get one of those KISS caskets. And put it in the back

    Like 2
    • Tom

      Steve ,I totally agree with that thought. I myself am a Die hard- KISS ARMY LIFER (51 YRS and counting).seen them live 21x ,met and Befriended all band members,orig. And replacements.
      This Car would be one that I KNOW – GENE SIMMONS would think to take his last ‘Tour’ run in – from funeral hm or church to his grave site.
      I cannot bid that high for it,nor do I have adequate space to keep it protected indoors,as it would deserve.. good looking ride though.and congrats and good luck to the bid winner on this beauty .

      Like 2
  10. mike b

    Really puts the fin in Fin de Siecle.

    Like 2
    • Tampa Tom

      Fin de Siècle is a French term meaning “end of century”,

      Like 3
  11. angliagt angliagt Member

    I’m surprised that there’s no surfboards.

    Like 5
  12. Rex

    If I were in the Funeral business I would definitely have this Caddy in my fleet. Car guys like us would love to take our final cruise in this one!

    Like 16
    • stu

      Last thing on my mind, you can have my turn…

  13. DanaPointJohn

    I’ll let this one pass.

    Like 2
    • Steve Clinton

      To quote Dave “I see what you did there…”

      Like 2
      • stu

        Steve Clinton,
        “I see what you did there…”

  14. Aaron Carlson

    It would be a crime, to change or restomod this car. It’s a work of art. I hope the right person comes along to appreciate it. There’s very few like this.

    Like 13
  15. Raymond L Saunders

    You are tired and stained as are your write-ups, you got a hatred for stereos and distaste of anything not concours grade…you’ve ruined this site…

    Like 5
    • ccrvtt

      Can someone explain this to me?

      Like 15
      • Steve Clinton

        ‘A hatred of stereos”…HUH?

        Like 2
  16. Miguel

    How can anybody find this gorgeous car spooky?

    Like 11
  17. Mike

    Well, consider the economics. Most new hearses are $150k plus and that’s unaffordable to the average funeral home in all but the biggest cities.

    Most of them rent hearses for several hundred dollars a pop and the have to fuel and wash them.

    For this price, it might pay to buy it, do the minor refurbishment, and put it back into service.

    Any good operator would be looking to crunch some numbers here….and do some serious thought.

    Like 3
  18. Francisco

    I’m dying to ride in the back of this.

    Like 4
    • stu

      Francisco,
      This can be arranged!

      Like 1
  19. BucknerBobby Member

    What a way to go!!

    Like 3
  20. Allan W.

    I am wondering if this is the same company that built the 1959 caddy hearse in ‘Harold and Maude’. Unless I am missing something, this website does not tell who built it.
    https://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_6261-Cadillac-Funeral-Coach-1959.html

    Like 1
    • Ralph

      It does, Superior is the company, its the same company, lower model, the one featured here is the top line Crown Royale model.

    • Steve Clinton

      Are you referring to the Jaguar XKE hearse?

      Like 1
  21. Gremlin X

    There’s a special place in hell for somebody who would turn this into another lame clone of the Ghostbusters car.

    Like 16
  22. Kenneth Carney

    I’d use it for its intended use– cadaver
    transport. You know, moving bodies
    from morgues to medical schools. A
    person can make up to 70K a year in this
    business. And I’d bet dollars to donuts
    that the person that buys this car could
    make twice the average yearly income
    just by using it the way it sits now and fix the cosmetics as money and time
    permit. At least that’s the speil I gave
    my SIL but she’s not having any of it!
    Can’t even convince her that it’s just a
    Cadillac station wagon.

    Like 2
  23. Smokey Member

    I need this hearse for my new discount funeral service ……..Diggers Discount Dispatches. Our slogan…….,.,, You Call, We Haul, Thats’s ALL

    Like 6
    • Miguel

      I always liked

      You Die, We Fly

      Like 1
    • Francisco

      Ask about our Layaway Plan.

      Like 4
  24. hatofpork

    Magnificent! But 79 grand is a stiff price!

    Like 3
  25. Rodney - GSM

    Ok, when you describe the interior of any hearse as, “the upholstery and carpet are tired and stained” I get severe heebie jeebies and will not be eating dinner tonight.

  26. ACZ

    Great shop truck. Even has an electric table for engines and transmissions. Bit pricey, though.

    Like 1
  27. princeofprussia

    For that price, it should be concourse-ready.

    Like 2
  28. Marko

    “Don’t let your first ride in a Cadillac, be your last !”

    Anybody else old enough to remember that newspaper and magazine advertisment for Caddy, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s ?

    A buddy of mine bought a 1959 unit, back in the late 1970’s. Only had the right side suicide door, and regular level floor with the casket rollers that flipped over to hide them. Also had a divider wall between the front and rear compartment, that had lexan window, and some cubby compartments, I assume were for transporting cremation urns. I seem to remember it having a 505cid V-8. Thing was a beast. We used to go cruising around town on weekends, scaring the dickens out of the local senior citizens.

    Like 1
  29. Stan Marks

    Marko, you guys were cruel. I love it……. LOL!!!

    You should have had a sign, in the window “WHO’S NEXT?”

    Like 4
  30. 1Ronald

    A Nixon fan? I don’t know. But was this little old lady who kept driving around the National Mall in a long black hearse with two huge speakers on the roof loudly proclaiming her hatred for then Congressman Pelligrino (Peter) Rodino Jr. Now, while you might think she had the coffin inside, no, she trailered it behind the hearse. Peter got Dick impeached which later led to Dick’s resignation. Think they’re both in Heaven now?

    Like 1
    • Stan Marks

      Peter made it…….

      Like 2
  31. Mont

    This is ‘THE’ hearse that comes to mind if I ever get the choice!!
    Will it be available for daily rental in the distant future?

  32. Steve Clinton

    HERMAN MUNSTER, your car is calling!
    Hearses creep me out (for obvious reasons). The one advantage to buying and driving this is if you’re a loner you won’t have to worry about ever having friends. The ’59 Caddy is a classic, but I would stick to a Coupe de Ville. And if a hearse appeals to you, there are many newer ones out there for a lot less lettuce (lettuce pray!).

  33. Steve Clinton

    If there is a museum for hearses, this would be a perfect addition! (And it would guarantee some Bozo wouldn’t mess it up.)

  34. kenn

    There’s a hearse club here in Michigan that has regular “Last Responder” get-togethers. This would be the star of the show. They’re a great bunch of folks and enjoy their unusual rides. I sell final expense insurance and am considering purchasing a hearse as a rolling advertisement.

    Like 1
    • Stan Marks

      Good idea, Kenn.
      Buy now, die later. LOL!!

      Like 1
  35. Wayne Thomas Member

    We sent our Dad home in style two years ago in a 36 Packard hearse. A local Funeral home here in North Ga has the Restored 36 Packard with a 350 Chevy Engine. They also have a Restored 72 Cadillac Hearse, a two Horse Drawn Hearse and a Three Wheeled Harley Motorcycle towed Hearse. I wish I could add pictures but did not know the secret path. I Remember another Funeral Home here had a 59 Cadillac Ambulance that had the fastest record From La Fayette to Ft. Oglethorpe back in the day when you had to go through the Chickamauga Battlefield on a two lane road. We do things in style here.

    Like 3
  36. Rex Kahrs Member

    I think the weirdest story (for me) is out of Columbus, OH, where an old guy dies, and he’s a big Harley enthusiast.

    So they put him on his Harley (somehow), fully dressed with helmet, sunglasses, etc., and place the guy on his bike in a big plexiglass box trailer, and they tow him around the outerbelt for one last cruise on the hog. This is a true story and can no doubt be googled.

    I am not sure if they buried the entire plexiglass box with the guy on the bike. Any way you slice it, it’s weird (to me).

    Like 2
  37. Rex Kahrs Member

    OK, here’s the guy.

    Like 3
  38. Phlathead Phil

    To me, the only thing that looks “Creepy” is the drapes in the back, the loading dock and the weird roof line at the back.

    IF, and that’s a DEADly ‘IF’ I bought it I would cut the roof off right about 2/3 way back in a horseshoe design, put in a shag rug, a hot tub and go “Shaggin.”

    I’d change the drapes so they would match the carpet if ya know what I mean!!!

    Like 1
  39. Garrysr

    I like this. My dad’s last ride, in 2003, was in a 1958 Cadillac. As was the case with many of that era, it had pulled double duty as an ambulance back in the day. Several of his grandkids got to ride back to the funeral home in the jump seats, and they ran the siren for them. Great memory.

  40. Racingpro56

    A work of art…beautiful!

  41. Stan Marks

    Stu,, you’re correct
    Every once in a while, an odd one comes up. Or should I say, go down? It’s what makes the world go ’round.

    • stu

      Stan Marks,
      Oh yeah, that’s for sure

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