The limousine John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated on November 22, 1963 is one of many pieces of history with a sad backstory. Even with its history, the car, a 1961 Lincoln Continental Presidential Limousine, was repaired and put back into presidential use until 1977.

John F. Kennedy was riding in this car when he was shot in 1963 / Image: Henry Ford Museum
Image: Henry Ford Museum
Image: Henry Ford Museum

Following Kennedy’s assassination, the car received significant armor plating and a bullet-proof hardtop and its navy blue exterior was painted black. It resumed its role as a presidential limousine for President Lyndon B. Johnson until 1967 and later remained in service until 1978, when it was sent to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Image: Ford Motor Company

SS-100-X (U.S. Secret Service code name for the presidential limousine) was originally a standard 1961 Lincoln Continental four door convertible built by the Ford Motor Company and assembled at the Wixom, Michigan plant.

The car was moved to the Experimental Garage at the Ford Proving Grounds where an additional 41 inches was added between the front and rear doors and just beyond the rear doors.The car’s frame was strengthened to accommodate the additional length and weight. It was painted a special navy blue color and taken to Hess & Eisenhardt of Cincinnati, Ohio, for reupholstering and further modifications to Secret Service specifications.[clarification needed] During the refit the car had no bulletproof or bullet-resistant additions added. The windshield remained the standard two-ply safety glass which could be easily replaced at any dealership.

The limousine that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in on a trip to Dallas was sent back to Ford and partner Hess & Eisenhardt to rebuild and improve its safety and design. / Image: – Henry Ford museum

An open car, the Lincoln was equipped with an assortment of tops, including a snap-together bubble top, a black cover for the bubble, a formal rear top and a stainless steel forward section (none of which were bulletproof). It also featured two-way radio telephones and retractable steps and grab-handles for Secret Service agents. No armor plate was added to the bodywork, but the undercarriage and all suspension components were strengthened. A hydraulically-lifted rear seat was fitted. At the time of the assassination, the Lincoln had been fitted with a 1962-model front clip (fenders, hood, grille and bumper assemblies).


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