In 1961, after the election of the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the White House commissioned a new presidential limousine from the Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln division, specifying that the car had to be a convertible and have large doors to enable the President and his entourage maximum ease of access.
Accordingly, a new Lincoln Continental limousine chassis was delivered to specialist coachbuilders Hess & Eisenhardt in Cincinnati, Ohio to be stretched, reinforced and modified appropriately. Hess & Eisenhardt were well qualified to carry out the conversion, having built their first presidential limousine for Harry S Truman in the late 1940s and a succession of armour-reinforced vehicles for US presidents and other heads of state thereafter.
The Kennedy Lincoln was provided with seven different types of hard top, some of them transparent. Archive photographs held by the ‘Musée Automobile des Voitures de Chefs d’État’ at the Château de Montjalin, Avallon show the Lincoln in use on numerous trips abroad, mainly in Germany, Ireland and South America. President Kennedy was riding in the car when he was assassinated in Dallas on 22nd November 1963.
Built by the ‘presidential’ coachbuilder, this Lincoln Limousine rolled out of the Hess and Eisenhardt specialist coachbuilt factory in 1963 ( photographs of the build are still available in the cars file), The ‘Y82’ chassis number prefix indicating that it is a series production limousine.
As was the JFK car, it is equipped with grab handles on the boot for bodyguards, Presidential flags on each wing, and flashing red lights and siren (in working condition) on the front bumper. The extended, platform-type rear bumper was restored in 2010, at great expense, by Lecoq of Levallois, Paris. In excellent condition, the paint is dark blue while the two-tone blue leather upholstery and interior seats are new.