1963 Cadillac Miller Meteor hearse unearthed in tongue-in-cheek graveyard

Some gearheads with a fondness for American-made luxury automobiles might believe that a classic Cadillac is to die for. Well, to sate the appetite of those with such an obsession, here’s a Caddy originally designed to take you to your final resting place. It’s a darkly humorous anecdote that junkyard enthusiast and YouTuber Steve Magnante didn’t miss. “There’s a saying that sooner or later everyone can take a ride in a Cadillac,” he said in a video posted earlier in June as he stood next to a 1963 Cadillac Miller Meteor hearse.

Unfortunately, the expiration of this model makes it ill-equipped to take anyone dearly deceased to a destination six feet under. But like other modified Cadillac hearse models, this one has a host of cool tricks worthy of a detailed profile.

Caddy Z-Class chassis can handle heavy loads

For an automotive journalist like Magnante, this hearse might not have the cachet of novelty that a bespoke replica Munsters would sport, but it still gives a backstory he can’t help but talk about. For openers, Cadillac had been a major supplier of chassis parts for ambulances and hearses from the 1920s through the 1980s. Miller Meteor’s involvement in this specialization dates back to the 19th century, when parent company AJ Miller developed coaches for horse-drawn carriages. Fast forward to the mid-1950s when Miller (now a coach builder) merged with competitor Meteor, allowing the company to concentrate on building hearses and ambulances.

Technically, Cadillac only supplied the chassis for the Miller-Meteor fleet. On the 1963 model discovered by Magnante, it featured a Class Z chassis that featured a 13-foot wheelbase, longer than could be found on any 75-series Caddy stretch limousines at the time. The Z class was a chassis monster, capable of carrying particularly heavy loads. And since Cadillac didn’t build station wagons until much later, these Cadillac Miller Meteors could easily be adapted into more family-friendly utility vehicles at the end of their lifespan as ambulances or hearses.

RELATED: These Hearses Have Been Modified To Be Spooky Quickly

Gesturing to an empty engine bay that currently facilitates the growth of a tree and other foliage, Magnante pointed out that this 1963 model would have had a 390 cubic inch engine, the last time this hearse model would feature a power source of this size. The following year the fleet had grown to 429 engines. But this particular model was ahead of its time in that it featured a dual master cylinder as part of its braking system, four years before the federal government made them mandatory.

Grille intact with original T3 lamps

Stepping in front of the car, Magnante was stunned by an item that was not removed. “Amazingly, the grill on this thing didn’t get taken from a 50s bar and grill for a wall hanging,” he said. Except for a big bump in the middle, the grille is still a one-piece, aluminum and steel component that he says weighs at least 200 pounds.

He is also impressed by the presence of the four headlights, none of which have been broken after years of neglect. It’s a considerable find considering the rarity of these lights, once made by Guide, a major parts supplier for GM based in Ohio. As for the T3 identifier, Magnate pointed out that it simply means the driver can angle the lights down and to the right to maximize their alignment. Although they were reproduced for a few years since 1963, people looking for original replacements had to look for old vehicles equipped with them as early as 1955.

RELATED: Watch This 1,000 HP Buick Hearse Hit The TapeMagnante also pointed to other parts that identified the hearse as a utility vehicle, namely Cadillac’s box-section frame with coil springs and stabilizer bar up front. The car also featured drum brakes, as Cadillac disc brakes weren’t a reality until four years later. In back, the frame included rear roof racks shaped like dog paws, the last time they appeared on a Cadillac Miller Meteor product. These brackets would become more angular in later models.

This hearse provided a smooth ride

Like most Cadillacs, this hearse model was also known for providing a smooth ride for its living and deceased occupants. The longer wheelbase had something to do with it, but according to Magnante, the real difference was the presence of rear leaf springs, Delco spiral dampers and double U-joints as opposed to the universal joints used on the vehicles at the time. .

But what made these vehicles a rarity was that Cadillac had built about 163,000 cars in 1963, but only about 2,500 commercial chassis, some of which were destined for Miller Meteor to create hearses. Several years of service later, they were eventually relegated to automobile graveyards like the one discovered by Magnante. Said the YouTuber, “The life cycle of this one is pretty much over.”

Source: Steve Magnante

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