What Happened To The Car JFK Was Assassinated In?

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy, as well as Texas Governor John Connally and his wife, rode in the presidential limousine — a Lincoln Continental — as they traveled on the streets of Dallas, Texas, for a 10-mile motorcade. At approximately 12:30 p.m., the motorcade was passing by the Texas School Book Depository when gunshots were heard.

President Kennedy was struck by the bullets on his head and neck, and he was immediately transported to the Parkland Memorial Hospital nearby. Efforts to save the president's life failed, and he was pronounced dead at 1:00 p.m. (via JFK Library). Lee Harvey Oswald was charged for the president's assassination, but he never stood trial, as he was shot dead by a man named Jack Ruby while being transferred from the Dallas police headquarters to the county jail, per History.

Throughout the years, there have been many theories and questions regarding JFK's assassination, and of them has to do with the Lincoln Continental. What happened to the presidential limousine after the assassination?

History of the presidential limousine

The midnight blue Lincoln Continental that JFK was assassinated in was built by the Ford Motor Company in 1961. Modifications were done by Hess & Eisenhardt — a coachbuilding company that specialized in armored vehicles — to make it fit for use during presidential parades. According to The Henry Ford Museum, the two companies collaborated to customize the vehicles, which the Secret Service codenamed X-100.

The original Lincoln Continental was cut in half, and a 3.5-foot extension was added to lengthen it. Other features of the vehicle included removable roof panels, heating and air conditioning systems, flashing red lights, two radio telephones, and a hydraulic seat to elevate the president, among other things. The Lincoln Continental cost about $7,300, but the features added cost almost $200,000 (approximately $1.8 million in today's money). The Ford Motor Company remained the owner of the presidential limousine, and it was leased to the Secret Service for presidential use for the amount of $500 a year.

Where did the car go after JFK's assassination?

After John F. Kennedy's assassination, the presidential limousine was transported back to the White House via a cargo plane. It was kept for evidence for a while and was documented and analyzed by the Warren Commission, the FBI, and the Secret Service, according to the New York Daily News. The windshield, which was hit by a bullet, was removed. Most would think that the vehicle where the JFK was shot was retired after the assassination, but that wasn't the case.

The White House authorized the Lincoln Continental to be fixed and modified in December 1963. Per The Henry Ford Museum, it was sent to Hess & Eisenhardt in Cincinnati, Ohio, where it was rebuilt. It was then transported to Ford Motor Company's garage in Dearborn, Michigan where more features were added. The overhaul of the Lincoln Continental included new black paint, reinforced structural parts, additional communication technology, a non-removable top, and armoring of the passenger compartments. In total, the project reportedly cost $500,000 to complete (about $4.6 million in today's money).

Who used the car after Kennedy's assassination?

The Lincoln Continental was revamped rather than retired simply because it would have taken years to have a new presidential limousine made. It was more efficient to have the old one repaired rather than have a new one built from scratch, per The Dallas Morning News. After all the modifications, the Lincoln Continental went back to the White House.

The car that Kennedy was assassinated in was used by a few presidents throughout the years including Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter (via Old Cars Weekly). It also went through modifications in 1967 to add additional armor and repainting, as well as minor fixes, such as dent removal and the addition of bumper guards. According to Motor Biscuit, President Johnson used the Lincoln Continental only a few times during his presidency, as he was not completely comfortable using the vehicle where Kennedy was assassinated. He opted to use other cars from the White House fleet whenever possible.

The car was retired in 1977

Other presidential vehicles were built in 1968 and 1972, but the car that John F. Kennedy was shot in still remained a part of the White House fleet. After more than a decade of service after Kennedy's assassination, the Lincoln Continental presidential limousine was finally retired in 1977. It was sent to The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation located in Dearborn, Michigan, and it is displayed together with other cars built by the Ford Motor Company (via The Henry Ford Museum).

To this day, the JFK assassination car remains one of the museum's most popular displays, and visitors take their time looking at the notorious vehicle that has become part of American history. With its shiny exterior and superb condition, anyone who doesn't know about the history of the vehicle wouldn't think that it is connected to a tragic event. According to The Dallas Morning News, some visitors to the museum leave flowers by the Lincoln Continental, especially during Kennedy's death anniversary on November 22.

The other car Kennedy used

Aside from the presidential limousine that John F. Kennedy was shot in, there is another vehicle he used on the morning of November 22, 1963. The car — a white 1963 Lincoln Continental called the Limo One — was used by the president and his wife from their hotel on the way to the Carswell Air Force Base on the day of his assassination, as reported by Auto Week. Limo One was loaned by car dealer Bill Golightly for the president's use, and it was returned to him afterward.

Throughout the years, the vehicle changed hands before it was sold to L.H. Hough and was displayed at the Museum of American Tragedy. In 1998, the car again changed ownership and it was auctioned in 2013. Collector Jim Warlick acquired the vehicle, and as The Daily Mail reported, it was again put up for auction in 2020. The vehicle was sold at a Bonhams auction for $375,075.00