Live Auctions

Who Done it? 1953 Cadillac Professional Car

Here’s a continuation idea, a “Who done it” series to try to figure out the origins of some of our more unusual finds. Take this 1953 Cadillac for example, Peter R. found the listing for this Nashville, Tennessee domiciled professional car/station wagon. Variations on this design turn up here on Barn Finds from time to time but this one has some uniqueness to it so let’s check it out and see if we can determine its origins. It’s available, here on eBay for a current bid of $200, with one bid tendered so far.

My colleague, Russ Dixon, wrote a post back in November of 2020 for a 1953 Cadillac hearse/ambulance and his research indicated that it was built on a Series Sixty-Two frame and modified by Meteor Motor Car Company. If you’ll note the doors, they’re similar but that’s where the similarities end. Meteor (1915-1956) was a well-established coach builder and has continued over the years, as a result of acquisitions, under various names and continues today as Ambruster-Stageway. This could have been one of their creations but there’s no way to tell with certainty.

Since there’s no builder’s plate or other clue to indicate this mash-up’s origins, it’s a safe assumption that it was probably converted by a professional firm – it doesn’t look like the result of a shade tree operation. I also can’t determine if this conversion is based on a Series Sixty-Two (126″ wheelbase) or perhaps the longer Series Sixty Special (130″ wheelbase) but that’s probably an irrelevant matter. The standout feature here is the flat rear roof covering the cargo area as opposed to maintaining a raised portion, similar to the front half of the roof and consistent with professional car design. The exterior is rough but doesn’t appear to be rotted – there are dents and small surface rust spots but no evidence of rust-through. Based on what is revealed, it appears that this Caddy was originally finished in a shade of green (Crystal Green perhaps?) but that has been long ago covered in primer and faded by exposure. With the exception of the rear window, all of the glass appears to be intact. Of note are the wire wheels.

Things are a bit different indoors, there’s no floor, at least over the passenger compartment. There’s a wooden riser of sorts in the cargo area but it’s obscured. The seller suggests that this Cadillac was a “band hauler” and it would work in that capacity but wouldn’t be ideal. I can state from experience that a van-like vehicle, one that will provide stand-up height to accommodate amplifier/speaker stacks and keyboard containers, is a better way to go. The interesting thing is the wooden headliner with an opening to access the raised roof portion – an attic of sorts. Beyond that interesting feature, the remainder is pretty well trashed. It’s unfortunate, the ceiling woodwork looks to have been well executed.

Forget about finding a 210 gross HP, 331 CI Cadillac V8 engine tethered to a Hydramatic automatic transmission under the hood, this wagon is sporting a Chevy small-block V8 engine. It’s a later model (center bolt valve covers – late ’80s perhaps) version and is identified as a 350, fed by port fuel injection and exhaling via headers. Most surprising is the claim that the “vehicle is driveable” though I don’t think I would want to attempt that trick. Besides minor things like no seat or floors, there doesn’t appear to be a brake or accelerator pedal.

Well, there you have it. I don’t know what I’d do with this modified Caddy, it seems too far gone to serve as a viable base for much of anything. It’s an intriguing find but it still begs the question, “who done it?”

Comments

  1. Todd J. Member

    The back section looks to me like it came from one of the “long roof” wagons that Chrysler Corp. was putting out in the late ’50’s or early ’60’s time frame.

    Like 22
    • Will Fox

      The rear (lower) wagon portion of the body appears to be of 1951-54 Chrysler/DeSoto wagon origins, minus their original rear quarters. I recognize the tailgate as such, and at the time, ONLY Chrysler used the crank-down back glass that the others wouldn’t have on their wagons for some years yet. MoPar pioneered that feature!

      Like 12
      • Barry

        Good eye barry

        Like 1
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Another “buy it for the running gear” and make the chassis go away.

    Like 3
  3. Cadmanls Member

    Have to agree with Todd that sure looks like a Chrysler product dropped in the back of that Caddy.

    Like 4
  4. Sparky

    It’s neither a Series 62 frame or a Series 60 Special frame- take a quick glance at the position of the rear axle relative to the rear door. Cadillac had a distinctive Series 90 commercial chassis all the pro cars were built off of.

    Like 2
  5. Mike B

    Band hauler? With that floor I’m guessing Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

    Like 15
  6. CCFisher

    At first, I thought the rear body was sourced from a contemporary Chrysler product, but those cars did not have wrap-around rear side glass. I’m not sure any wagon used wrap-around glass in 1953. It looks a bit like a 1957 Mercury wagon, but the roof section isn’t quite right, and the timing would mean that it was modified long after the chassis was built. It almost has to be built from existing wagon parts, because if you were going to build something from scratch, wouldn’t you integrate it better with the rest of the car?

    Like 4
  7. PaulG

    The front fenders have (or had) Superior emblems attached at one time…

    Like 5
  8. scott m

    😱

    Like 5
  9. Tom Crum

    Mr. Fox knows his cars very well. The back end of this modified Cadillac is from such a car as he describes. I am a retired auto exec and I know my cars also. Even went to the University of Detroit and at night the professors were very high up execs. Terrific education about the automobile industry and the various subjects.

    Like 1
  10. JukeOf Earl

    I don’t think anyone would admit to having done it?

    Like 2
  11. Greg Gustafson

    I couldn’t live with the “bi-level” roof line.

    Like 6
    • Gary

      Agreed. Perhaps with the right chrome roof rack it wouldn’t be such a distraction.

      Like 1
  12. BrianT BrianT Member

    Why is the question.

    Like 3
  13. BlondeUXB Member

    “You’ve died but still wanna keep a low profile… “

    Like 5
  14. geezerglide85

    I think the back roof and tailgate section are ’57 to ’59 Chrysler product and it was somehow molded into the back of an ambulance. I say ambulance because of the rear step bumper. If you look closer those windows don’t follow the lines of the Caddy at the bottom. But the big question is why? Tree damage and they used what they had? Unique to say the least.

  15. Claudio

    I searched
    I looked
    I meditated
    I slept
    I ate
    I snacked
    I worked out
    But i still cant find anything good to write about this

    Like 1
  16. Steve

    Take this 1953 Cadillac “Who done it”. The question should be “Why did it?”

  17. Steve

    $1,580.55 [ 7 bids ] Reserve not met with 3 days left.

    I shake my head in bewilderment.

    Like 1
    • Claudio

      And unmet reserve !
      This guy knows something that we don’t…

  18. Gary

    50’s Chrysler for sure. The old adage “Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should” comes to mind.

  19. Bob

    I wonder if Neil Young would like this?

  20. Gary

    That could become the baddest lowrider ever.

  21. Thomas Crum

    I want the 1953 Packard 2 door hard top behind this destroyed Cadillac. Like to hear from others about my identification of this almost hidden car, please

  22. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Here’s what this Cadillac looked like before it was modified. The next photo is of a 1957 Plymouth Suburban wagon. It’s the same basic design used on all the 1957 to 1959 MoPaR wagons. The actual conversion was well done as far as quality, but my final question is WHY?

    Perhaps they had a Cadillac Superior ambulance with a damaged roof, and a MoPaR wagon that was in an accident destroying the front half.

    Like 2
  23. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    And here’s the Plymouth wagon.

    Like 1
  24. chrlsful

    I’d sqay due t the roof it’s not by a pro. The era pro would make them both rounded. Also didnt some 1 say the rear is 10 yrs newer?

    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      The rear section is from 1957 to 1959

      Like 1

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