Cadillac Commercial Chassis

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1959 Cadillac hearse

The Cadillac Commercial Chassis was basically a strengthened version of the long-wheelbase Cadillac Series 355 frame and the Series 75 was intended to carry the extra weight of the bodywork, rear deck and cargo area of funeral coaches and ambulances. Specifically designed for professional car use, the rear of the Cadillac Commercial Chassis was considerably lower than the passenger car frame, thereby lowering the rear deck height as well for ease of loading and unloading. They were shipped as incomplete cars to coachbuilders for final assembly. As shipped from the factory, a Cadillac Commercial Chassis was little more than a complete rolling chassis along with front end sheetmetal with all lighting and trim, dashboard, air conditioning (if specified) and the main road controls. Rear quarter panels and sometimes the front door shells were shipped with the chassis for use in the finished coachwork.

Federal motor vehicle safety standards in the United States and Canada which called for increased weight ratings as of the 1979 model year spelled the end of automobile-based ambulances and the beginning of the van-based units seen today throughout North America.

Cadillac's adoption of unibody construction after the 1996 model year means that Cadillac-based funeral coaches are usually - though not always - produced from modified sedans. Cadillac supplies incomplete "kits" of its XTS sedans (and DTS/DeVille until 2011) to Master Coachbuilders which are certified for conversions and assembly of finished funeral vehicles.

Sources[edit]

  • "Classic American Ambulances: 1900-1979 Photo Archive," by Walt McCall and Tom McPherson

External links[edit]