December 2004 > Americana > JFK Jr.
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Lot 2: John F. Kennedy's 1963 Lincoln Convertible
We are enormously proud to offer this '63 grey Lincoln Continental convertible sedan that was presented to President Kennedy for his private use during his all-too-short White House years. The car is beautiful enough, but its history is absolutely fascinating. Originally, three Lincolns were offered to JFK shortly after his inauguration by J.J. Saunders, administrative manager of the Ford Motor Company in Natick, Massachusetts. Like any other red-blooded American male, even one who happened to be president, JFK took up the offer. As press secretary Pierre Salinger eagerly wrote to Saunders, "I am sure we will be most happy to take advantage of this kind offer." The cars, delivered in the fall of '62, were to be used not for presidential touring but for JFK and his staff to when he visited New England or vacationed at the Summer White House in Hyannisport. And there's no doubt he did, as the 2 photos in the accompanying document portfolio obtained from the JFL Library show the dashing young president at its wheel on separate occasions ferrying Jackie, John Jr., Caroline, and other family members around, nervously eyed in one photo by Secret Service men, with reason. Such was JFK's love of the car, and for living recklessly, that he would jump it whenever he got the chance and drive off in a cloud of exhaust fumes, and at least one occasion the Secret Service, desperately trying to follow, actually lost contact with him! The whereabouts of the car in the years since the black day of November 22, 1963 is a perilous journey in itself. About 2 months after, Ford sold it to a buyer in Farmingdale, New York, Ernest J. Perez, who didn't know the vehicle had belonged to JFK until he inquired about the warranty; the return letter (also in the portfolio) revealed its former role. The car was subsequently sold in 1968 to John Greenleaf of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who placed it in storage before being displayed in '69 at the Colorado Car Museum, where it remained until 1986. It then wound up at the Pikes Peak Ghost Town (parent company of the museum) until 1995 when obtained by our consignore. In '86, the car had been driven 39,896 miles. Since then, it's been driven only 25 miles, thus making this a very, very classic '63 Ford with a very, very special history. Car collectors regocnize the '63 as one of the most stylish and elegant automobiles built in America and the country's first 4-door ragtop since the 1951 Frazer Manhattan, as well as the first such car Lincoln had built since 1939 and the only production four-door convertible available in the world at the time. Its design was phased out in 1967. As to the car's condition, it has some rust on the driver's rocker, but otherwise it's been preserved quite nicely, and is available for viewing in Michigan. All the paperwork for the car is enclosed, including the original manual and a statement of its known history and ownership. There is also a newspaper article from 1986 about being "secretly" stored in a Rhode Island garage. A lingering chrome and metal memory of Camelot, perfectly symbolizing the dashing young American leader who drove it. The Continental was deliberately designed so that it could never be outdated by the calendar, and like JFK's memory, this one never will.
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