It’s the most famous Lincoln Continental in the world, and for the worst of reasons. On 22nd November 1963, President John F Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in the back of this ’61 Lincoln in Dallas, Texas.
In the aftermath of shock that went around the world, you might presume that the car would quietly disappear, hidden forever in a secure warehouse or secretly crushed, watched over by men in black to ensure that curious workers didn’t try and salvage a piece.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, the stretched Lincoln was indeed spirited away by the Secret Service – but to be modified, fitted with a permanent steel roof (after Kennedy’s assassination, no US President would ride in a convertible again), with bulletproof glass. It would go back into the White House motor pool and be used for another thirteen years. Among those who rode in the car in which Kennedy died were Lyndon B Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.
Why? Sadly, it seems to come down to cold hard cash. Although Ford leased the Lincoln to the government for a paltry $500, the work required to turn the stock convertible into a coach built Presidential vehicle, 41 inches longer than stock, did not come cheap. To replace the car would have cost $1.5 million in modern terms. Instead, just five months after JFK’s death, the Lincoln Continental was returned to active service, where it remained until 1977.