Prototype Limousine, specifically adapted for Pope Paul VI, and the Chicago parade vehicle for the Apollo 8, 11, 13, and 15 astronauts including Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Jim Lovell
1964 Lincoln Continental Limousine
Coachwork by Lehmann-Peterson
Chassis no. 4Y82N406266
Introduced in 1961 after a fortuitously rushed gestation that preserved the clean, distinct, unadorned concept of Elwood Engel, John Najjar and Ford's "Stiletto Studio" designers, the new Lincoln Continental quickly became emblematic of subdued but distinctive quality and good taste.
Its refinement made it perfect for formal use but its Thunderbird-based unit body construction introduced complications that made it possible for modifications to be attempted only after careful design, stress analysis and high quality construction. In the Continental's early years, Lehmann-Peterson emerged as the dominant builder of "stretch" Continentals. Based in Chicago, George Lehmann and Bob Peterson teamed up in 1962 specifically to built stretched Continentals. Their first car was tested for some 40,000 miles by Ford engineers before Ford agreed to recommend Lehmann-Peterson to Continental customers who wanted more room.
Lehmann-Peterson proudly maintained they could and would respond to the most elaborate customer request with ingenious high quality design, engineering, construction and materials.
This 1964 Lincoln Continental is ample evidence of the truth of their claim.
It was built in 1965 at the special request of the Vatican to Ford Motor Company to convey Pope Paul VI through New York to address the United Nations on World Peace. Rushed to completion in a span of less than two weeks from receipt of the request to delivery of the finished parade car to New York on October 5, 1965, it is based on Lehmann-Peterson's initial prototype, the only available car that could be modified in time.
The wheelbase is stretched to a massive 160" with an overall length of nearly 21 feet. Exterior step plates and handrails for security, additional interior seating for aides and prelates, a raised seat for the Pontiff, supplemental interior lighting, public address system, auxiliary power from a bank of seven batteries were only a few of the many detail changes.
The most visible attribute is the removable roof section, transparent rear landaulet roof and roof-mounted auxiliary windshield to protect the Pope and his entourage while allowing the thongs of spectators that lined the parade route to see the Pontiff.
The Papal Continental performed flawlessly during the Pope's visit to New York which included his address to the UN at Turtle Bay, his Mass at Yankee Stadium and his long trip across the Bronx and Queens to the World's Fair in Flushing Meadow. It was a triumphant accomplishment not only for his Holiness but also for Ford Motor Company and Lehmann-Peterson.
More was to come.
After the Papal visit the Lincoln was loaned to the city of Chicago after removal of the bubble top, Papal chair and associated internal fittings where it served as a parade car and courtesy vehicle for visiting dignitaries. In 1968 the Vatican remembered its performance and once again called upon Ford to use it for another Papal visit, this time to Bogotá, Colombia for the 39th Eucharistic Congress. With just 12 days from receipt of the request until its shipping date, Ford and Lehmann-Peterson again marshaled their resources.
The task was complicated by Bogotá's altitude, 8,600 feet above sea level, which required extensive engine modifications. aviation gasoline from the Colombian Air Force and a comprehensive kit of tools and spare parts. The 1965 Papal chair and fittings had been damaged in a roof collapse while stored at Lehmann-Peterson and had to be quickly re-done. Nevertheless the commitment was kept and, once again, the Continental performed flawlessly, a tribute to the organizational talents of Ford's Cal Beauregard who coordinated both the New York and Bogotá deployments.
But even more was to come.
On December 27, 1968 the Apollo 8 mission, the first manned space flight to orbit the moon, splashed down in the Pacific. Its astronauts, mission Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders were fêted with a tickertape parade through Chicago. They rode in this Lehmann-Peterson Lincoln Continental, as would the Apollo 11 (Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin), 13 (Lovell, Mattingly, Haise) and 15 (Scott, Worden, Irwin) astronauts as well.
Following its service with the Pope and in parades it was sold to a Fort Dodge, Iowa ophthalmologist, Dr. Swanson, then to an Arizona collection before settling for some sixteen years in a French collection of state limousines. It became part of the O'Quinn Collection in 2006 and has been carefully maintained in completely original and well preserved condition as it was taken out of public service in the early 70's.
The 1964 Lincoln Continental Parade Limousine has a marvelous history intricately entwined with some of the most memorable events of the Sixties and early Seventies, the Apollo space program and Pope Paul VI's outreach to world leaders and citizens with his message of peace and understanding. Its equipment includes the auxiliary power, climate control systems and dual rear-facing auxiliary seats added for the Bogotá, Colombia Papal excursion. It has enjoyed both special care and attention during its period as a Ford Motor Company special use vehicle and subsequently in collections that have appreciated and honored its special status and the important personages who have been favored to ride in it.
Its 21-foot long presence is imposing, as it should be for its history and importance, a reflection of the gravity of the accomplishments of its passengers.
- Please note this title is in transit. Please note that the correct chassis number in this vehicle should read 4Y82N06261.