This is the 1961 Lincoln Continental limousine that President Kennedy used throughout the world, and the one in which he was riding when assassinated. Ford Advanced Vehicles (a division of Ford Motor Company) and Hess & Eisenhardt, custom-body builders of Cincinnati, Ohio, began conversion of a stock 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible (Model 74A) in January 1961. Total cost = $200,000 on a base car that normally sold for around $7,000. Ford leased it to the Secret Service for a token $500 a year.
Ford lengthened the vehicle by 3.5 feet and increased its weight from 5,215 pounds to over 7,800. It was powered by the stock 430-cubic-inch V-8. Two flashing lights were recessed into the front bumper. This was the first presidential limo to be completely air-conditioned. The car had Firestone bullet resistant tires. The rear seat could be hydraulically-raised up to 10.5 inches to provide a better view of the President. Other features included four retractable steps for agents -- one on each side behind the front wheelwell and just in front of the rear wheelwell. Two steps appear on the rear bumper, from one of which we see a Secret Service agent perched reaching desperately for the President in a famous assassination photos.
Delivered to the White House in mid-June 1961, the dark-blue car was dubbed the "X-100" by the Secret Service and fitted with DC license plates "GG-300." In September, the original grille was replaced with a 1962-model grille, apparently for aesthetic reasons. After the Kennedy assassination, the car was completely rebodied by Ford and Hess & Eisenhardt.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FROM TOM PINE: To make the limo that would carry President Kennedy, Ford’s Advanced Vehicles Group, assisted by Hess & Eisenhardt, took a model 74 Lincoln Continental convertible and began by lengthening it 4 feet (to 21 feet). They added retractable steps for the Secret Service agents, two-way radiotelephones, and a hand-built, 430-cubic-inch, V-8 engine. They also created a unique system of removable steel and transparent roof panels that provided everything from enclosed privacy, to completely open visibility. Surprisingly, no armor was provided, for the limo’s purpose was visibility, not protection. Even without armor, the vehicle weighed 7800 pounds (up from 5215). They opted, not for black, but a coat of Midnight Blue paint. When completed, the vehicle was dubbed the X-100, making it sound like a ship from an episode of the Thunderbirds. Sadly, the vehicle’s design for visibility proved a mistake, for President Kennedy was assassinated on a Dallas street, while riding in this very vehicle, on November 22, 1963.But that wasn’t the end of the X-100. It was brought back to Hess & Eisenhardt to be redesigned. Fitted with titanium armor, bulletproof glass, run-flat tires (with aluminum rims inside), and a permanent hardtop, the limo emerged 2000 pounds heavier. Put back into service in 1964, it served presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter, before being retired in 1977. The X-100 now resides at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Yat Ming has established a solid niche with these presidential limos. This one’s mounted on the same black plastic base with the words: “Presidential Series – 1961 Lincoln X-100 Kennedy Car – Road Signature.” This one’s the nicest-looking image yet. The Midnight Blue (metallic) paint is simply gorgeous and the chrome accents gleam appropriately. The interior (and trunk) is carpeted in dark blue and the seats, done in soft plastic, are navy blue with silver inserts. Again, there are operable jump seats. This time, the dashboard details are quite nice. Other interior details include two radiotelephone panels and presidential seals. My only quibble here is the somewhat overlarge trim pieces around the windows, the steering wheel, and the twin antennas. When the trunk is opened, the spare in the continental kit is visible. The undercarriage details are on a par with the other releases I’ve seen—which means they’re well done. A big improvement on this image is the greater amount of detailing on the engine, with many more features evident. Still no wiring though. Another quibble I have is that I’d like to have seen some of those metal and glass panels replicated—but it would probably have raised the price. My few quibbles aside, this is a sharp looking image of an historic vehicle.
This is the third (in chronological order) presidential limo Yat Ming has done and I haven’t been disappointed with one of them. More significant, is the fact this limo reminds us of an event that irrevocably changed the face of American culture. If you’ve a mind to, this one’s a worthy addition to your Presidential limo collection. Next stop, the Bush Limo.