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1947 Cadillac Herse Facebook marketplace


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It is decribed as a "hurst."

 

1947 Cadillac hurst
Ottsville, PA

Seller's Description
1947 Cadillac hurst
V8 flathead
Dont run
Roller her on your trailer and its all yours
$3,900
Call Dave at [hidden information] Less

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Especially in smaller towns they were always ‘dual purpose’. My grandfather had a DeSoto Limousine (I call it that because he called it that - I do not know if it had a division window but old out-of-focus photos leave open that possibility) he used as a hearse/ambulance/taxicab. Siren was under the hood.

These things were nearly impossible to buy between WWII and 1950. You really had to ‘know somebody’.

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13 hours ago, mike6024 said:

 

 

It is decribed as a "hurst."

 

1947 Cadillac hurst
Ottsville, PA

Seller's Description
1947 Cadillac hurst
V8 flathead
Dont run
Roller her on your trailer and its all yours
$3,900
Call Dave at [hidden information] Less

 

It looks like the seller was notified so he correctly changed the spelling in the ad....

 

Seller's Description

1947 Cadillac Hearse V8 flathead Dont run Roller her on your trailer and its all yours $3,900 Call Dave at [hidden information]

 

 

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7 hours ago, Ben P. said:

Especially in smaller towns they were always ‘dual purpose’. My grandfather had a DeSoto Limousine (I call it that because he called it that - I do not know if it had a division window but old out-of-focus photos leave open that possibility) he used as a hearse/ambulance/taxicab. Siren was under the hood.

These things were nearly impossible to buy between WWII and 1950. You really had to ‘know somebody’.

 

As a rule a hearse has a blind rear quarter and an ambulance has a window.

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2 hours ago, Brass is Best said:

 

As a rule a hearse has a blind rear quarter and an ambulance has a window.

*I find this an interesting topic btw — and NOT an argument*


Not correct. Not for the 1940’s anyway. Styles came and went and Cadillac’s professional chassis was of course used by MANY different hearse and commercial body companies, but the most popular 1940’s style hands down was ‘limousine coach’ which had passenger car like glass rear side windows.

Curtains were typically hung from the inside which gave it the ‘hearse appearance’, some were in fact side and not rear loading. Many were fitted with a shelf or tray above the casket and on that flowers were placed — visible through the windows. Versatility + multi-use was a key selling point at that time.


Remember, this was just after a decade of Great Depression and then a 4 year war. Very few small-town funeral homes could afford a hearse (and even fewer small towns could afford an ambulance!). Typically, someone like my grandfather who owned a taxi company would be approached by a local Funeral Director and/or town for an agreement (similar to a lease agreement today) for consigned use of a vehicle which he would purchase and operate. In other words, they’d beg him to buy a vehicle they couldn’t afford and he wouldn’t otherwise have any interest in but the combined usage made it profitable for all.

I tore the house apart looking for that photo of my grandfather’s DeSoto but someone else must have it. Pictured below is the 4 year old hearse which transported FDR’s remains from the Little White House to the train station in Warm Springs GA — that was the style.

(source for FDR photo: https://blog.dlg.galileo.usg.edu/?p=2022)

Below that is a capture of the 1946/7 styles with glass rear windows as well. Yes, blind rear quarter and even ornate carved wood look bodies were offered as well, but the ‘limousine coach’ really was ‘the style’ in 1940’s America.

 

Ben P.

 

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54 minutes ago, Ben P. said:

*I find this an interesting topic btw — and NOT an argument*


Not correct. Not for the 1940’s anyway. Styles came and went and Cadillac’s professional chassis was of course used by MANY different hearse and commercial body companies, but the most popular 1940’s style hands down was ‘limousine coach’ which had passenger car like glass rear side windows.

Curtains were typically hung from the inside which gave it the ‘hearse appearance’, some were in fact side and not rear loading. Many were fitted with a shelf or tray above the casket and on that flowers were placed — visible through the windows. Versatility + multi-use was a key selling point at that time.


Remember, this was just after a decade of Great Depression and then a 4 year war. Very few small-town funeral homes could afford a hearse (and even fewer small towns could afford an ambulance!). Typically, someone like my grandfather who owned a taxi company would be approached by a local Funeral Director and/or town for an agreement (similar to a lease agreement today) for consigned use of a vehicle which he would purchase and operate. In other words, they’d beg him to buy a vehicle they couldn’t afford and he wouldn’t otherwise have any interest in but the combined usage made it profitable for all.

I tore the house apart looking for that photo of my grandfather’s DeSoto but someone else must have it. Pictured below is the 4 year old hearse which transported FDR’s remains from the Little White House to the train station in Warm Springs GA — that was the style.

(source for FDR photo: https://blog.dlg.galileo.usg.edu/?p=2022)

Below that is a capture of the 1946/7 styles with glass rear windows as well. Yes, blind rear quarter and even ornate carved wood look bodies were offered as well, but the ‘limousine coach’ really was ‘the style’ in 1940’s America.

 

Ben P.

 

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The cars shown in the book are factory jobs. The blind quarter hearses were usually built by the custom shops. Eureka Coach, Superior, Hess and Eisenhardt and others. Big city funeral homes had big budgets. So did big city Fire Departments. 

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1 hour ago, Brass is Best said:

The cars shown in the book are factory jobs.

Get out your book and cite it.

(The book I photographed was Walter M.P. McCall’s ‘80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle - perfectly riddled with errors and mistakes btw. If I ever retire I’ll write my own Cadillac book, but sadly I doubt there’s a market for books anymore.)

 

Cadillac, Fisher Body, or even Fleetwood did not ever produce a factory body for the 163“ (or variants) commercial chassis. Strictly sold in chassis form and shipped to independent builders. Miller, which the one in this ad is, was one of the biggest. The Roosevelt car was also a Miller. It was marketed as a Limousine Coach. It was not an ambulance.

 

The sad thing though is - I doubt this car will ever be restored. I think we’re looking at a rat rod here. The few restored commercial cars I’ve seen with my own eyes all have been the more ornate ones. Carved wood panel or made to look like carved wood panel... Of course the real fancy stuff survives. Sad we don’t often get to see what was really out on the street. But then again, most restorations seem to go that way. Not seeing too many whitewalls on Model A’s anymore thank god....

(The Roosevelt Miller bodied hearse again pictured below - just because I think it’s pretty neat.)


Ben P.

 

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5 hours ago, Brass is Best said:

As a rule a hearse has a blind rear quarter and an ambulance has a window.

 

No, the difference in the Professional car world is the difference between a "Limousine" style and a "Landau" style. 

 

Being the window version, would make this a "1947 Miller Limousine style end loading hearse on a Cadillac chassis".

 

Proper professional car descriptions ALWAYS put the coach builder ahead of the chassis builder. This is because most coach builders used just one chassis exclusively, so if you know the coach builder, you also know the chassis it was built on. 

 

If it had a blank quarter window (with a S-shaped bar) It would be a "1947 Miller Landau style end loading hearse". 

 

If this car has a reversible floor (both smooth and casket rollers) and folding jump/attendant seats, then it could be a "1947 Miller Limousine style Combination car". 

 

Having the rear door hinged at the quarter panel means that is could also have a side loading (or 3-way) casket table. In which case it would be a 1947 Miller Limousine style side loading hearse. 

 

Because you typically want more light when providing care in the back of an ambulance, they were almost always built in the limousine style. 

But there do exist a very few landau style full ambulances. (not a combination car) 

 

Being custom built commercial (work) vehicles, there are about as many combinations available as there would be for a truck body. 

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1 hour ago, deaddds said:

How cool would that be as a parts getter? Ill take my beating now.

Better than a rat rod and if I needed or had space and $$$ for a parts getter I’d definitely be thinking about it.

I’ve never seen one of these restored.

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It was common back in the early 70’s for collectors to buy a hearse, flower car, or other professional car and use it as a parts car......most were low mileage, well maintained, and very inexpensive. I remember a late model Auburn that was cut up this way. Quite a few Pierce Arrows were built into hearses. They used a commercial chassis and either full custom or partial custom bodies. There was one other professional car that I have never seen mentioned here in twenty years, an “ Invalid Coach”. They were marketed on the big custom and sometimes commercial chassis, and could take a special wheel chair, or gurney. There are some very interesting specialty built cars from 1935 to about 1955 when all this was happening, seems by the late 50’s most of the stuff was just cut down or slightly modified factory stuff. Most of the hearses today are very unappealing.

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It surprises me that no one has converted a hearse or ambulance into a parade phaeton by grafting sedan trunk quarters into the rear of the body and additional bracing throughout, installing seating, flagstaffs and lighting for a VIP parade use.  A rudimentary top which could be set up in the event of showers.  

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You know, I would be surprised if someone hadn’t done that. Some of the flower cars came awfully close to that as they were.

In the day though some commercial body builders did do special builds exactly as you describe.


Pictured below, this one by Durham - out of the McCall book again. I wouldn’t be surprised if this car still exists today.

(Man, I’d like to see this book redone in color with better pictures and without all the damned mistakes. The guy had this thing with wheel/tire sizes - for some reason he felt compelled to arbitrarily list them for some models [but not all] but when he did list them they were WRONG most of the time. Don’t think we can blame that all on the proofreader.

Best reference book for the model out there though. No one has bothered to do another.)

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17 hours ago, Ben P. said:

Get out your book and cite it.

(The book I photographed was Walter M.P. McCall’s ‘80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle - perfectly riddled with errors and mistakes btw. If I ever retire I’ll write my own Cadillac book, but sadly I doubt there’s a market for books anymore.)

 

Cadillac, Fisher Body, or even Fleetwood did not ever produce a factory body for the 163“ (or variants) commercial chassis. Strictly sold in chassis form and shipped to independent builders. Miller, which the one in this ad is, was one of the biggest. The Roosevelt car was also a Miller. It was marketed as a Limousine Coach. It was not an ambulance.

 

The sad thing though is - I doubt this car will ever be restored. I think we’re looking at a rat rod here. The few restored commercial cars I’ve seen with my own eyes all have been the more ornate ones. Carved wood panel or made to look like carved wood panel... Of course the real fancy stuff survives. Sad we don’t often get to see what was really out on the street. But then again, most restorations seem to go that way. Not seeing too many whitewalls on Model A’s anymore thank god....

(The Roosevelt Miller bodied hearse again pictured below - just because I think it’s pretty neat.)


Ben P.

 

B131927D-5992-4BDB-918D-DD23083E24B1.jpeg

85D7E80C-CD90-49FE-A73F-E24A69B7C832.jpeg

 

You could walk into a Cadillac dealership and order a hearse or an ambulance. From the dealer.

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12 hours ago, edinmass said:

Quite a few Pierce Arrows were built into hearses. They used a commercial chassis and either full custom or partial custom bodies.

 

A Pierce Arrow by any other name. . . . . ?

As I mentioned earlier in the Professional car world the coach builder is more important the chassis builder. 

 

Henney coach builders (typically associated with Packard because of their exclusive marketing agreement) did build on other chassis. Notably Oldsmobile and Pierce Arrow. However they were not identified as a Pierce Arrow. They were properly called a "Henney Arrowline".  There are no Pierce Arrow scrips or markings on the car. (serial number plate maybe?) but the hubcaps, hood, radiator, etc. all said "Henney" 

The proper make to be listed on the title would be Henney. . . . 

 

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25 minutes ago, Brass is Best said:

You could walk into a Cadillac dealership and order a hearse or an ambulance. From the dealer.

 

This would be like going into a Chevrolet dealer and buying a step van modified and equipped as a refrigerated milk truck. 

Yeah, maybe. . .but more than likely you would go the the milk truck builder and tell them you wanted a Chevrolet chassis instead of a Ford or International  

 

The market was so small (the entire industry only made about 1000-2000 hearses and ambulance of all types in any given year)  and so specialized that if your were in the professional car industry (funeral home or ambulance service) you made the deal with a professional car dealer.

 

Yup, You went to your (local) Superior coach dealer, or the Miller-Meteor dealer. It would not be unusual for these dealers to have a sales territory of 3-4 states. Good chance that you never even went to their building. Either they called on you at YOUR facility or you talked to them at the annual convention. The deal was made and you either took a train to the coach-builder factory and drove the new car back to your Funeral Home (there by breaking the new car in during the trip) or the professional car dealer delivered the new coach to you and took your trade in back to their selling location. 

 

The chances of a Cadillac salesman understanding the difference between "manual 3 way table" and a 'powered 3 way table' or being able to discuss the value of the very expensive 'self leveling' option on a side loading coach would be very low.  And if you wanted to discuss the current local regulations for ambulance lights and sirens in your community or the advantages/disadvantages of a low, medium or high head room ambulance I think you would get a blank stare. 

 

Professional cars are specialized commercial vehicles made to appeal to a customer base that had some very specific technical details to consider. 

Not a typical Cadillac or Packard, they are commonly misunderstood unless you are in the industry that used one. 

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4 minutes ago, Brass is Best said:

 

I was their contractor if you bought from a Cadillac dealership. If you wanted the other customs jobs you contacted the builder.

You were their contractor in the 1940’s when this commercial chassis was built?

 

I’m sorry, this conversation is going nowhere and I respectfully leave it. I’m interested in the history and the facts — not who’s right. But no, Cadillac and other GM’s body divisions did not build the professional bodies for this chassis. It is a Miller body and whether or not one could walk into a dealership and order it (as they could technically do or arrange to do with any custom body from any independent builder) is beside the point and does not change the fact that Miller marketed this vehicle as a hearse and the side window = ambulance / Closed quarter roof = hearse was not a distinction the builder made. Not in the 1940’s when this one was built.

 

As said earlier, a main selling point for these rather ‘Plain Jane’ Limousine Coach style Hearses in the 1940’s was the fact that they could be used for multiple purposes and MANY of them were.

 

Good luck selling cars,

 

Ben P.

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3 hours ago, Ben P. said:

You were their contractor in the 1940’s when this commercial chassis was built?

 

I’m sorry, this conversation is going nowhere and I respectfully leave it. I’m interested in the history and the facts — not who’s right. But no, Cadillac and other GM’s body divisions did not build the professional bodies for this chassis. It is a Miller body and whether or not one could walk into a dealership and order it (as they could technically do or arrange to do with any custom body from any independent builder) is beside the point and does not change the fact that Miller marketed this vehicle as a hearse and the side window = ambulance / Closed quarter roof = hearse was not a distinction the builder made. Not in the 1940’s when this one was built.

 

As said earlier, a main selling point for these rather ‘Plain Jane’ Limousine Coach style Hearses in the 1940’s was the fact that they could be used for multiple purposes and MANY of them were.

 

Good luck selling cars,

 

Ben P.

 

Right, all I said was that most hearses, not dual purpose cars. Most hearses that have a blind rear quarter. Ambulances have a rear window. Good luck doing whatever it is you do.

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My ex wife's grandfather was an undertaker.  When he retired we bought his 1952 Superior Cadillac hearse.  7000 miles and always kept in a heated garage.  Absolutely "as new", even the air in the tires.  It took up a lot of room so Dad decided to sell it.  Guy bought it to use as a parts hauler to Carlisle and Hershey.  A few months later it was sideswiped by a truck and scrapped.

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1 hour ago, Restorer32 said:

My ex wife's grandfather was an undertaker.  When he retired we bought his 1952 Superior Cadillac hearse.  7000 miles and always kept in a heated garage.  Absolutely "as new", even the air in the tires.  It took up a lot of room so Dad decided to sell it.  Guy bought it to use as a parts hauler to Carlisle and Hershey.  A few months later it was sideswiped by a truck and scrapped.

 

That must have been a fantastic car!

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