“The Last Car to Safely Transport President Kennedy” Comes to Auction

Liz Catalano
Published on

The 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy left an indelible mark on American culture and history. Within days of his death, his assassin was dead, the United States had a new president, and the conspiracy theories had begun.

A relic from the morning of Kennedy’s death highlights Bonhams’ upcoming auction of American political memorabilia. The white convertible that was “the last car to safely transport President Kennedy” will be available on October 14th, 2020, starting at 1:00 PM EDT.

White 1963 Lincoln convertible that transported John F. Kennedy. Image from Bonhams.
White 1963 Lincoln convertible that transported John F. Kennedy. Image from Bonhams.

On November 22nd, 1963, Kennedy woke up in a Fort Worth hotel. He was on a five-city fundraising trip in Texas with his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, to drum up support for the Democratic Party. After giving a patriotic speech outside the hotel, the Kennedys traveled in this white Lincoln Continental convertible to the Carswell Air Force Base. From there, Kennedy took his last flight on Air Force One before landing in Dallas.

The available convertible was known as “Limo One” for its brief period of use and was loaned to the United States from a local mechanic. It was built approximately two weeks prior. It now comes to auction with a restored V8 engine and red leather interiors. Interested bidders will note that this lot is listed as a collectible and may not be operable as a legal vehicle. It is expected to fetch between USD 300,000 and $500,000.

The 1963 Lincoln on the morning of Kennedy’s assassination. Image from Bonhams.
The 1963 Lincoln on the morning of Kennedy’s assassination. Image from Bonhams.

Kennedy collectors can also find the Lincoln Continental Mark V limousine that the President considered his everyday car ($200,000 – $300,000). Reportedly, Kennedy used it for personal excursions around the White House and Washington, D.C. It includes bulletproof doors, a divider window, and a two-way telephone.

These vehicles formerly belonged to Jim Warlick’s American Presidential Experience, a traveling exhibition designed to teach children about American government. Warlick noticed that many schools stayed away from the capital following the September 11th, 2001 attacks and became concerned about civic engagement among young people. After nearly 20 years of educational tours, the collection is set to hit the auction block.

A full-scale replica of the Oval Office. Image from Bonhams.
A full-scale replica of the Oval Office. Image from Bonhams.

Other key lots in the coming sale include full-scale replicas of Kennedy’s Air Force One plane and the Oval Office. The latter was one of several models used in the American Presidential Experience and can be constructed in pieces. This particular replica has been used on the sets of Saturday Night Live, The Today Show, various party conventions, and other events. It can be used for television and movie sets, art exhibitions, or, as the auction house suggests, as a space to work from home. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.

Steel-nibbed Esterbrook pen used to create the Peace Corps. Image from Bonhams.
Steel-nibbed Esterbrook pen used to create the Peace Corps. Image from Bonhams.

Smaller items in the auction include the steel-nibbed pen that signed the Peace Corps into existence ($10,000 – $15,000), Harry Truman’s shaving kit ($3,000 – $5,000), and porcelain dinner plates used at the table of Thomas Jefferson ($1,500 – $2,500). Presidential fine art from Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Mr. Brainwash, and Yousuf Karsh round out the catalog. 

The event will be live-streamed for online bidders. Collectors may also bid absentee or via telephone. Visit the Bonhams website for the complete listings and more information.