Terse Hearse: 1954 Cadillac “Shorty” Hearse

I’d bet you probably have never seen one of these. This is (or used to be) a 1954 Cadillac hearse. Found by reader Fred H., it is for sale here on Craigslist in Ventura County, California. The asking price is $4,500 and looks like a really cool project! The ad purports this car “is 1 of 4 special short bodied “baby hearses” built for Cadillac.” The seller also has a disclaimer that they aren’t sure if that information is correct. If you know about these cars, please leave a comment below.

Based on fairly extensive internet research, these cars never existed in this form. The idea of a short bodied or “baby hearse” doesn’t make a lot of practical sense, especially in the mid 1950’s. My guess is this was a regular hearse that has been shortened as a fun project. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but there appears to be a slight line running across the roof line where it may have been welded years ago. I’m sure some quick inspection of the door pillars and interior roof would tell the story. Although, maybe the full-size hearse body was shortened at the factory or by Fisher Body?

The ad does state there is extensive rust and the car is sold on a bill of sale. Whether or not the body is original, this looks like a really fun and unique project. You are likely to be the only one at the car show with a shorty hearse. How cool would this car look painted black or red with a blower sticking out of the hood and some fat tires in the back? Awesome.


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  1. george

    maybe it was sold to a funeral home that specialized in little people. on another note ,i do think it is very cool.

    Like 1
    • Viktoras Valius

      I looked at it two half’s welded together

  2. Al

    No, it was built for 1/2 priced funerals.

    On the other hand maybe it’s an enclosed rumble seat

    Like 1
  3. grant

    That looks like it was pretty cool, before somebody ruined it.

    Like 4
  4. Ed Padgett

    I have seen a Studebaker children’s hearse built in the late twenties.

    Like 1
    • carsofchaos

      Good call Ed I seem to recall seeing one of those back in the 80’s. That could be the very depressing idea behind this hearse as well.

  5. Steve R

    Used for pet funerals.

    Steve R

    Like 1
    • Whippeteer

      I don’t wanna be buried, in a pet cemetery…

      Like 1
      • Lisa

        I don’t want to live my life again.

      • Jack

        I would 😎

  6. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Someone took Randy Newman a little too seriously (“Short people got, no reason to live”..).. (sorry).. I love the look of that car, very cool proportions.

    Like 2
  7. angliagt angliagt Member

    Maybe this was built for Munchkin funerals.

  8. jeff6599

    This car is a 1951 model. 1954s are quite different. Look it up.

    • Vince H

      Taillights are 52-53.

  9. Classic Steel

    Nice and ready to let anyone down !

    This one will have everyone fighting to stretch out in the back for along nap!

  10. Maestro1 Member

    Very unusual. Find out how much room there really is behind the front seat. If you are a musician, this might be it for travelling after restoration. if there’s enough room. It’s a way not to be forgotten. i have no idea what the ball park figure on this thing is to fix it……..maybe never mind.

    Like 1
  11. Classic Steel

    I am wondering so short this is the cremation wagon that just requires a chainsaw , drop cloths and small containers and sizing is solved 🙃😢

  12. chad

    odd windshield

    • Steve65

      It appears to be the correct glass for the commercial chassis that year. The missing chrome trim emphasizes how much shorter it is than the door windows.

      • mike D

        was just going to say it is missing the chrome trim, which is why it looks ” odd” too bad there aren’t more extensive pics. would def be worth the time and effort to bring it back to ” new” tho, I might add a few touches , nothing is said about the engine .. Might find a RWD Caddy that the body is shot, but engine is good and swap would garner LOTS of attention at ANY auto show! .. I hope whomever buys it, does it justice!

  13. Rodney

    Another failed GM product, “The Hearse Sportster”.

    Like 1
  14. Madmatt

    This was made to drive “small people” to the pearly gates
    In style…!😉kinda cool,but needs a lot of love….
    Maybe it could be Stallone’s future ride…….he’s like 5.6..?LOL….😎
    Any Cadillac hearse is cool, but the 48 /60’s are…..awesome

  15. Bill J

    I was in the business but never saw a “shorty”. But who knows. When I was a kid they had Cadillac special built flower cars. Only good for hauling flowers but never seen since.
    It might be cool to show up on cruise night with this but it would be a very expensive cool. IMO its a goner.

  16. Andrew not amember

    Splendid humor by all . However small and Cadillac was and still should be subversive.

  17. JRP

    1950’s GM execs scratched the idea of a sport utility vehicle. “The consept will never sell.”

  18. lawyer George

    Cute but way over priced.

  19. bikergeek

    Fix this up, put “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus on repeat on the stereo, and you couldn’t want a better Gothmobile than this. Or, if you make a rat-rod out of it, “Surfin’ Dead” by The Cramps.

  20. MathieuB

    Windshield looks not to fit properly but someone says it was the way they were with funeral Caddy. Again, Caddilac and Short does not fit either.

  21. dabig kahuna

    Owned by Billy Barty funeral parlor

  22. LAB3

    It would be a ball to show up at the hearse convention in Hell, Mi with this thing! As mentioned, painted black with a blower sticking up out of the hood of course.

  23. Whippeteer

    I wonder what they pulled that windshield out of? Definitely not a Cadillac.

    • John Royark

      Yes, that’s the right windshield. But the lack of brightwork around it and the shorty hack, makes it look odd.

  24. Whippeteer

    A poor man’s version of the E-type hearse from “Harold and Maude?”

    Like 1
  25. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Come on gang, all this good humor and no Dagmar jokes? I am kind of confused about the location, It reminds me of a place the Manson family would have camped at. I do give the seller credit for putting her on the market before the rims sank into the earth. From the ad for some reason I get the impression it is not theirs to even sell.

  26. Butch

    Follow the yellow brick road 😜.

  27. John Royark

    Nothing more than a customizer that got ahold of it after its service live and built a Shorty. This Superior was NEVER built like this, owner cant even get the correct year, (its clearly a 51 with 50 grille) let alone production number that was pulled out of thin air like pretty much all of the misleading incorrect description of this hacked up coach.

  28. RichS

    This scene from Animal House immediately popped into my head…

  29. Ron

    Based on the photo above of a standard size hearse of similar vintage, I would say someone just removed about 3′ between the front door and the rear quarter vertical trim…

    Like 1
    • John Royark

      Although the one you posted was built by S&S, and this hacked up one is a Superior you are correct, nothing more than a shorty build after its service life.

  30. Jack Quantrill

    Let these monstrosities die a natural death! Too, too, ugly to save!

    Like 1
  31. John C Cargill

    Lame piece of cr.p

    Like 1
  32. Peter Atherton

    It could have been a “removal”car to remove the decedent to the funeral home.

  33. Dghberkley

    Ah! Finally!The hatchback Cadillac Sport Coupe I’ve been dreaming of. Can’t wait for the 1/2 off paint sale at MAACO.

    Like 1
  34. Land Rover guy

    Gary Coleman…. need I say more!

  35. Tony, Oz

    Hey Peter, what did they do sit him/her in the front seat or just fold them in half and stick ’em in the back ? It’s not as if they’d care how they were ‘removed’.

    Like 1
  36. Wayne

    Chop the top 6? Inches and make a pickup out of the back half.
    Then it would look cool.
    Now it is just odd.

    Like 1
  37. That Guy

    The perfect tour vehicle for a ukulele, piccolo, and kazoo band.

    Like 1
  38. Henryfrederick

    This would have worked in the phantasm movies.

  39. ArtSpeed

    Whomever made this just cut out the center door section and rejoined the two ends. Kinda like the sawed-off VW buses we used to see at the beach here in CA…

    And I bet that’s where the idea came from!

  40. Jubjub

    One of the few things I’ve seen with the middle missing that wasn’t totally dumb looking and a complete waste of a vehicle. The roofline works surprisingly well. Find the right windshield, fix that drip rail and do a driver restoration on it.

    • John Royark

      Whats left of that poor Superior does have the correct windshield.

  41. Geo164s

    Here, it just needed a little help.

    Like 1
  42. Wayne

    Thanks Geo164s. That’s what I had in mind.

    Like 1
  43. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    Wayne, & others–I had an opportunity to buy an actual 1954-55 Caddy professional flower car/truck, painted purple and with a hot tub mounted behind the front bench seat. After extensive research I found it to be a legit Miller-Meteor car with a clear VIN. It was priced about a C note below this one three years ago and was a running project. Woulda, coulda, shoulda….Looks like the seller has a limo for parts parked right next to this dinky toy!

  44. Wayne

    Yes, I too passed on a 1955 (I think) flower car. It was way cool but my girlfriend at the time (I was about 17 ) said she would not ride in it. Her father was cool however. Threw me the keys to his 427 1967 Chevell once in a while.

  45. Geo164s

    Kinda late but it took time. Added a little restoration from another angle.

    Like 1
  46. Wayne

    GREAT! I love it. Good job!
    It is really cool now!
    Unfortunately that amount of body work is way above my skills. If it was not, I would be all over this. (That means that I would also have the skills to perform the rust repair.) Drop in a 500 Caddy, a beefed 700R4 and as wide as you could get them steel wheels with the original wheel covers. Repaint the original maroon color. and it would be a stellar cruiser.

  47. Ward W

    Baby hearses are indeed a real thing. As proof, I’ll leave this here. It is a purpose built baby hearse.

    Like 1
    • John Royark

      Yes, child hearses did exist, but VERY rare by the 1950s. The Superior in the OP never was built like that, only a custom after its service life. As for the one you posted from Urugua, I have a friend that has one that looks almost like that, but not in that good of condition—yet anyway.

      • Ward W

        It is very rare indeed and was a carryover from the lavish Portuguese/Spanish funerals back in the day. This one was from a private museum in the south of Brazil (where I’ve lived for 25 years) about 10 years ago. The car museum was housed in a private university and mostly owned by the president of the museum (270 cars on display and another 50 being restored museum grade cars from around the world, ULBRA was the uni).

        The uni went belly up, president guilty of mixing funds between the uni and his car collection and most cars were confiscated and auctioned off. Huge shame. The collection was broken up. Here is a video of the museum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=151RNHtDsjA

        Like 1
  48. Sparkimoto

    I’m sure this is a full sized Hearse that has had the center chopped out and made in to a shorty, as they are called. This has been commonly done with 55-57 Chevy 4-doors and wagons! But I’ve seen it done to lots of other models. So I very much doubt that this car sold this way originally! But then Hearses are not factory original either. They are actually bought from the factory ( Cadillac in this case ) as commercial chassis vehicles. The factory will sell them without doors, to the coach company. Then the coach company will do the necessary ‘chopping’ and build their own doors, top, windows, and etc. and convert them into a Hearse.

  49. Leo Gutierrez

    I just got this hearse……. sitting in my driveway…… gonna completely chop off the top and make it a roadster. Will keep everyone updated with pics!

    Like 1
  50. Little_Cars Saul Member


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