A Deathtrap, And A Hearse: 1993 Ford Mustang vs 1979 Cadillac Superior

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Good morning Autopians: This is your wake-up call. It’s Monday morning; time to mainline some coffee and get back to pretending to work. But to make the morning go a little easier, I’ve got some weird cheap old cars for you to check out, as always.

On Friday, we looked at a couple of ’50s sedans that were outside our normal price range. Let’s see what you thought of them:

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Well, that’s pretty decisive. Price was probably a factor: I’m not sure that Edsel was more than twice as nice as the DeSoto. And the DeSoto is just way cooler.

Today, we’ve got another one of those odd-couple matchups, because there just aren’t comparable vehicles out there for either of these, at least for our hypothetical budget. But in a way, they do go together: if you’re not careful about how you drive one, you’ll end up as a passenger in the other. Let’s take a look.

1993 Ford Mustang LX – $1,300

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Engine/drivetrain: 2.3 liter inline 4, 5 speed manual, RWD

Location: Sandy, OR

Odometer reading: unknown

Runs/drives? Like a top, if the seller is to be believed

Off-roading cars that were never meant to be off-roaded is officially a Thing these days. But few can afford to safari-ize a vintage Porsche 911. For those of us of more normal means, including our own Mercedes Streeter, the Gambler 500 series is the answer. Take a cheap old car, do whatever you need to do to hang some big off-road tires off the axles, and go beat the snot out of it on logging roads. Sounds like fun, huh?

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This late Fox-body Mustang would seem to be a logical choice, and from the sounds of it, has been very successful on a couple of outings. It’s a basic four-cylinder LX, but you don’t need a ton of horsepower to slide a rear-wheel-drive car around on dirt. It’s also a manual, which improves not only control, but also durability – important when you’re in the middle of nowhere in a cheap old car.

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The trouble I have with the whole Gambler 500 phenomenon in general is that it does use up the cars; once you Gambler-ize a car, it’s very difficult to un-Gambler-ize it. In the case of this Mustang, the rear hatch is MIA, the rear fenders and front bumper have been hacked up, and the interior is either trashed or absent. It may run and drive as well as they say, but it’s not really good for anything other than a Gambler event anymore. You could put it back into regular-car service, I suppose, but would you want to?

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A good-running four-cylinder stickshift Mustang for $1300 sounds like a decent deal, but this one? Well, that’s for you to decide.

 

1979 Cadillac Superior Hearse – $1,800

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Engine/drivetrain: 425 cubic inch V8, 3 speed automatic, RWD

Location: Centralia, WA

Odometer reading: 62,000 miles

Runs/drives? Great, according to the ad

And now for something completely different. Everybody loves a hearse, right? I mean, folks are just dying to get a ride in one of these bad boys.

Superior Coaches of Lima, Ohio has been turning Cadillacs into hearses for a long time. In 1981, they bought out the S&S Coach Company, who had been building hearses even longer. They’re not the only game in town, but they’re the only one I’ve ever heard of.

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This 1979 model is based on a Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine, which shrank along with the rest of GM’s full-size cars in 1977. Even with the malaise-era downsizing, it’s still an impressively-sized machine, and in hearse form, it’s even bigger. Good luck parallel parking this monster. 1979 was the last year for the massive 425 cubic inch V8 as well, so expect to spend a lot of time at the gas pump.

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According to the seller, this old Caddy runs and drives well and has had a lot of recent mechanical work done.  Outside, there’s a lot of rust, and not all of it looks benign. It’s probably fixable, but it’s going to take the right kind of buyer to want to try. Although I suppose you could ignore the rust and drive it as-is: Use it in place of a truck or van, maybe? There is an awful lot of room in the back.

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No word on whether this one has an Aiwa stereo in it or not. But it should.

So there they are, our Monday choices. You can Gamble on a badly-abused Mustang, or roll the bones on an old rusty hearse. The choice is yours.

 

Quiz Maker

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40 Responses

  1. Other than having to go to Centralia, the hearse seems like the winner. At least from a utility perspective–it’s a great hauler. That said, I think I would go for either one. They are both really good deals.

  2. Those hearses are seriously overbuilt. The GM Commercial Chassis is basically a Chevy 1/2-ton truck. With the Caddy V8 and an extra few hundred pounds of bodywork, you can expect single-digit fuel economy. At least that’s what I got from my ’70 Cad-Superior. 7 city, 9 highway.

  3. The Caddy looks ready for burial. At least the “Gambler 500” ‘Stang could be used for another run or two before reaching the end of the trail.

    I’m givin’ both of these a miss. But I won’t miss ’em much.

  4. The Corpse Caddy would have run away with this one if not for the rust. There are chunks of metal missing around the back door, which makes me wonder how many opens and shuts it has left before the structure collapses. A hearse that can’t haul anything is useless to me.

  5. So it’s a Mustang that has no practical use anymore or really any chance of being brought back to daily use, or a car that literally had numerous dead bodies in it over its life and now has terminal rust in addition to being haunted.

    I think it’s spend my $1,800 on a multi-year supply of gum.

  6. Thar hearse is a rot-box but even if it completely returns to the earth after a year on the road you are left with a bunch of heavy-duty B-body parts and a Caddy V-8 that is begging to be swapped into all kinds of things…
    Get a BOP TH400 with a fixed rear yolk and a Chevette… or a Gremlin… or a Vega…

  7. I’ve always, always wanted a hearse. This one is an ugly year, and the rust is most unfortunate, but what the hell. It’s carried around its share of deadies, I’ll give it a nice retirement. The Mustang I don’t hate nearly as much as I should, but I don’t want to bother with that engine (and upsizing the engine means upgrading the whole drivetrain, and there are much better uses of my time and money out there). so hearse me up.

  8. As a guy who does trauma/crime scene cleaning and has a pretty warped sense of humor, I’m going hearse all day long. Wish I had one for a company vehicle with an awesome vinyl wrap of some sorts.

  9. I’d totally get the Hearse. I’d goth the shit out of it. Black with black tinted windows, the gaudiest chrome rims I could find in the shape of pentagrams, Baphomet hood ornamet, give it a nice and plush red velvet interior. And it would be converted to electric. There’s a LOT of battery room in there. It deserves nothing less than a drivetrain from a Model S PLAID and a custom-built 200 kWh pack of 21700s. Given the terrible aerodynamics of it, and all the weight, it would be lucky to get 300 miles range on such a massive pack.

    Totally playing Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, The Cure, Fields of Nephilim, while rolling around in it. Also a good place to binge on alcohol and controlled substances before passing out.

  10. These are both true shit boxes. I feel like the hearse gains you significant utility and more acceptance of a shit box exterior from the public though so that got my vote. No 5.0 in the Stang is a bummer.

  11. The Mustang has a single purpose. Plus, it’s probably been abused pretty good by this point. It may not have much life left in it. The hearse could at least be a cheap hauler for a little while . It’s enclosed, so you don’t have to worry about things getting wet or blowing out. It’s also separated from the main cab, so you can haul some smelly stuff in there. Essentially, you’ve got a cheap van without the headroom in the back.

  12. If the prices were swapped and the hearse didn’t have extensive rust, I’d seriously look at the Caddy. Under the rules of the game, I’d have to go with the Mustang for more offroad rally. It may be a 4 cylinder, but the manual would be fun.

  13. Hearse for me. Too bad the casket rollers are gone, just think how easy it would be to load/unload heavy toolboxes and other stuff in the back of that if they were still there. It’s body on frame so theoretically it can be made to tow too. It’s the perfect tow vehicle waiting to happen

    1. “Too bad the casket rollers are gone, just think how easy it would be to load/unload heavy toolboxes and other stuff in the back of that if they were still there. ”

      Yeah, that’s the first thing I noticed, as well. Those rollers are iconic in their association with hearses, in my mind. Now you just have a large wood panel with holes in it.

  14. Does the hearse weigh enough more to have $500 more scrap value? That’s all I’m doing with either of these.

    Looked it up, voting MustanGambler.
    $500 is the limos full scrap value?

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