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Kennedy Presidential Limousine
What was the car's make and model?
The original car was a 1961 Lincoln Continental 4-door convertible.
Why was it called "X-100"?
X-100 was the code name given to the car by the Secret Service.
Who built the car?
Ford Motor Company assembled the car at its Lincoln plant in Wixom, Michigan in January 1961. Hess & Eisenhardt of Cincinnati, Ohio was responsible for customizing the car to function as a presidential parade limousine, literally cutting it in half, reinforcing it, extending it 3 ½feet in length, and making numerous other modifications. Ford Motor Company and Hess & Eisenhardt collaborated on engineering and styling. It debuted at the White House in June 1961. The car remained the property of the Ford Motor Company, which leased it to the Secret Service for the nominal price of $500 per year.
What did the car cost to build?
The car, as equipped at the Lincoln plant, would have retailed for $7,347. Custom built, the car cost nearly $200,000, according to Randy Mason ("The Saga of the 'X-100'").
What were some of the car's special features?
Special features on the 1961 limousine included:
- Removable steel and transparent plastic roof panels
- Hydraulic rear seat that could be raised 10½ " to elevate
- Massive heating and air conditioning system with auxiliary blowers
and 2 control panels
- Dark blue broadcloth lap robes with gray plush lining and hand-embroidered
presidential seals in special door pockets
- Four retractable steps for Secret Service agents
- Two steps on rear bumper for additional agents
- Flashing red lights, siren
- Blue Mouton rug in rear
- Indicator lights when door was ajar or steps out
- Two flagstaffs, two spotlights
- Auxiliary jump seats for extra passengers
- Two radio telephones
- Interior floodlights
In 1963 the car's grille was replaced by one from a 1962 model
and 'sombrero'-style wheel covers like those of the 1957 Lincoln
Premiere were added. Trunk lid grab handles for Secret Service agents
were affixed as well.
What happened to the car after President Kennedy's assassination?
The X-100 was impounded for evidence in the weeks following the assassination on November 22, 1963. Soon after plans were made to modify the car in Cincinnati, Ohio and then return it to Washington D.C.
What was "Project D-2" or the "Quick Fix"?
Following the assassination of President Kennedy, a committee was formed (originally comprised of thirty people) of six people representing the Secret Service, Army Materials Research Center, Hess & Eisenhardt and Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. The White House approved a plan for a revamp of the X-100 around December 12, 1963. Work was completed May 1, 1964 and extensive testing was performed in Cincinnati, Ohio and Dearborn, Michigan before the car was delivered to the White House in June. Costs have been estimated to exceed $500,000 and were shared by Ford Motor Company, some Ford suppliers and the federal government.
Basic elements of the revamp included:
- Complete re-armoring of rear passenger compartment
- Addition of permanent non-removable top ("greenhouse") to accommodate transparent armor
- Replacement of engine with hand-built, high compression unit, providing approximately 17 percent more power
- Addition of second air conditioning unit in trunk
- Addition of certain electronic communication devices
- Reinforcement of some mechanical and structural components, e.g.
front wheel spindles and door hinges, to accommodate additional weight
- Complete re-trimming of rear compartment, eliminating damage resulting
from the assassination
- New paint treatment, "regal Presidential Blue Metallic with
silver metallic flakes that glitter under bright lights and sunshine"
(May 1, 1964 report by Willard C. Hess of Hess & Eisenhardt)
What was "Project R-2"?
The X-100 underwent major modifications again in January 1967. These were also completed by Hess & Eisenhardt and included:
- Revision of air conditioning system for greater cooling capacity
- Conversion of right rear door, which had been 1 13/16” bullet-proof
glass, to drop-glass actuated by heavy duty power regulator assembly
- Reinforcement of deck lid with fiberglass to accommodate additional
- Stripping of entire car to bare metal in order to remove dents and
- Minor changes, such as addition of roof mounted grab handles
In the following ten years, other minor modifications were made as well.
Front bumper guards were added and their built-in red flasher lights were
replaced with red lights in the grille. During President Nixon’s
stay in office, the large one-piece glass roof was replaced with one with
a smaller glass area and a hinged panel. This would permit the president
to stand during parades.
When was the car retired?
Although other presidential parade cars were built in 1968 and 1972, it was used occasionally by Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. The X-100 remained in service until early 1977. The car is now exhibited to the public at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
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Images: Details From 1) G 2077; 2) K 520; 2) G 1352; 4) G 2090