By on December 5, 2012

When I went to the Brain-Melting Colorado Junkyard to buy a ’41 Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan, for the purposes of some unholy engine swap, I did some digging around through stacks of random doors to try to find a handle to fit a friend’s elderly Ford COE truck. While navigating the high desert cacti between rich veins of ancient truck doors, I happened to glance up and catch a view of this toasted-but-still-majestic hearse silhouetted against the sunset. What a Junkyard Find!
Brush fires are always a danger on the plains east of Colorado Springs, and such a fire ate a few cars last year. Most of the burn victims have since been sent to The Crusher, but this old hearse remains.
There’s not much usable stuff left on this funeral hauler (unlike the rusty but largely complete ’48 Pontiac hearse parked a few hundred yards away), so perhaps it’s just here as a sort of sculpture.
Yes, that big mountain in the background is Pikes Peak. Mount Evans is a lot closer to where I live and it’s 154 feet taller, but the racing is far superior on this mountain.
The fire seems to have been quite specific about which areas of this car it felt like ravaging. The windshield glass melted, but some of the nearby paint survived.
It’s sad to think that this hearse will never be restored and brought to HearseCon (Colorado, for reasons someone is going to have to explain to me, is the Customized Hearse Epicenter of America), but perhaps some of its parts will live on in other Cadillacs.

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29 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1961 Cadillac Hearse...”

  • avatar

    It’s cool. Maybe its best resting place would be a Colorado version of the Cadillac Ranch off I-40 in Texas.

  • avatar

    The rear window treatment is very unique.

    Finding a dead hearse is like finding an abandoned funeral palor.


  • avatar

    Is that lead body filler melted all over the rear? If not, any ideas? I would guess that they used plenty of lead in the custom coach business circa 1961…

  • avatar

    Amazing, the lead filler melted but not the plastic taillight lenses.

    • 0 avatar

      I crawled around it for quite a while and couldn’t figure out how the fire burned some things at surface-of-sun temperature and not others a few inches away. There was a pile of scorched lumber nearby, with just the surface of the wood burned.

      • 0 avatar

        Assuming brush fires follow a similar patterns as the ones we get here in the southeast, it would depend on the fuel near the car. If it was fast moving the heat, while intense, would have only lasted a few seconds.
        Firefighters are issued personal survival blankets, little more than a thin reflective sheet. But if you lie flat under one the fire will pass over/around you in a minute or so. Afterwards, you’ll find yourself standing in a brown and green patch surrounded be something that looks like ground zero of a napalm strike.

  • avatar

    Great pictures.

  • avatar

    Judging by the remains of the red paint on it, I’m thinking this is an ambulance, not a hearse. Maybe a Miller Meteor?

  • avatar

    My guess is Superior.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe it is Superior. That is the roof style used on all Superior’s back then for both hearse and ambulance bodies. Superior’s were built on both Cadillac and Pontiac chassis.

      50 year old GM chrome still looks good. Wonder how many pall bearers impaled themselves on the rear fins?

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Murilee, I understand that the round tail lamps are hearse-only and extremely rare, so please don’t let those be lost to the crusher. The same probably applies to the bumper…

  • avatar

    The front plate in the grass is local, so it was registered in the Colorado Springs area before it ended up in the yard.

  • avatar


  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Would have sort of looked like this one when new:

  • avatar

    I always liked the 1961-1962 Caddys for the muted but still exuberant fins and other pods and die castings which tipped the hat to the jet age.

    +1 on it being an ambulance, or maybe a flower car.

    When I was just out of high scool, I ran across a garage band from Sacramento that had what they called a casket car.
    It was based on the 1962 Cadillac. The neat thing was, the casket platform in the back of the car was on a track. If you opened the door behind the driver, the platform would move forward and to the left, so as to present the casket at the door opening. I believe the right rear door caused the opposite to happen.

    It was a great truckster for heavy amps and speaker boxes.

    The best part was, the key from my mom’s 1962 Olds Dynamic 88 would start it.

    • 0 avatar

      The band had a side-loading hearse, which was top-of-the-line, as far as hearses go. Very useful in urban areas with only on-street parking in front of the church.

      And the junkyard ambulance was definitely not a flower car – those had a bed in the back a la El Camino – probably the rarest of the professional cars since so few of them were ever made.

  • avatar
    Vance Torino

    Speaking of death,
    I learned recently that Zebulon Pike (the American western explorer of Pike’s Peak fame) died storming Toronto (York), Canada during the War of 1812. He burned the shipyard, giving America control of Lake Ontario. The seized guns enabled Perry’s victory on Lake Erie and the safety of Ohio and Michigan.
    After he fell, his men rampaged out of control and burned the shanties known as the Canadian capital.
    This gave the British ideas in Washington a few years later…

    Can’t make this stuff up.

  • avatar

    The first shot within the story is spectacular, I also like the 6th shot a lot, as well as #6 in the slide show. the car would look like death if it were new, but in this stage of decay, it’s death squared.

  • avatar

    I thought I knew where this place is, and that shot of Pike’s Peak in the background pretty much nails it. I drive by it on my way to my “I’d have to kill you if I told you who they were” client out there on the high plains. Non-subtle hint – it’s on an AFB with no runways… Always wanted to wander around out among the cars, never had the time to stop and see if it was possible.

  • avatar

    Nice , thank you .

    I’m quite sure that is indeed a Superior bodied rig .

    My current hearse is a 1980 S & S bodied Caddy , a fine car indeed .


  • avatar

    I see some older school buses in the background , how about a nice writeup on them ? I love ’em, and will never get to this place in person so lots and lots of pix would be nice .


  • avatar

    That’s a Eureka bodied Cadi CC from 1961, and yes, it’s a (end loader) hearse. The melted lead filler was covering the rear quarter/corner windows. These windows were glass on the Ambulances of the same model.

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