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Barron Corp.; Lima Coach Co.
Barron Corporation, 1970s-1980s; Spencerville, Ohio; Lima Coach Company, 1980s-1990s; Lima, Ohio
 
Associated Builders
Bayliff
     

The two legendary 1983-1984 Miller-Meteor three-door Eldorado hearses were the brainchild of Spencerville, Ohio's Jack Hardesty, the owner of a small funeral home supply company called the Barron Corp. Hardesty was also Lima, Ohio's first sports and imported car dealer and went on to found the Lima Coach Co, a hearse conversion company that specialized in Dodge Caravans.

When Miller-Meteor went out of business in 1979, Barron Corp. purchased the trade name of the once-famous coachbuilder. He also owned the local Ziebart franchise, and most of the work on the second Eldorado was done in the large Ziebart shop. Bud Bayliff assisted Hardesty in building and engineering the first 1983 Eldorado prototype which was constructed at Bayliff's Lima, Ohio body shop.

In late 1984 Hardesty sold the rights to the Miller-Meteor trade name along with the tooling for the Eldorado coaches - which also happened to fit Cadillac's new 1985 front-wheel-drive DeVilles - and the second 1984 Eldorado prototype to Collins Industries of Hutchinson, Kansas. Hardesty's front drive tooling was the basis for the 1985 Collins-built Miller-Meteor-Cadillac front drive coaches which were produced in Hutchinson  through 1992.

Hardesty was one of the first builders to develop a bolt-on stretch for the new Dodge Caravan minivan, which first appeared in 1984. He offered the stretch conversion by itself, as well as building funeral car conversions using it, but that effort lost its popularity once Chrysler developed its extended minivans in 1987. Hardesty's Lima Coach Co.  kept busy doing conversions of the extended minivans, and later sold the operation to a local businessman. After that, things at Lima Coach went downhill quickly because of the new owner's reluctance to do any advertising or promotion of the conversions, so it didn't last long. After selling off Lima Coach, Hardesty kept himself busy by offering components to funeral directors so they could do their own minivan service car conversions.

2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com, with special thanks to Bernie DeWinter IV.

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Pictures
 
   
 
   
 
References

The Professional Car - Issue #55, First Quarter 1990

The Professional Car - Issue #57 Third Quarter 1990

The Professional Car (Quarterly Journal of the Professional car Society)

Gregg D. Merksamer - Professional Cars: Ambulances, Funeral Cars and Flower Cars

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Funeral Vehicles 1900-1980 Photo Archive

Walter M.P. McCall - American Funeral Vehicles 1883-2003

   
 
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