DETROIT — If you’ve got the money you’ll be able to buy a memento of one of the saddest days in American history.
The hearse that carried John F. Kennedy’s casket to the Dallas airport in November 1963 will go on the auction block next month. It was used to transport both the casket and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy from Parkland Memorial Hospital to Love Field, where Air Force One was waiting for the return flight to Washington, D.C.
“The eyes of the world were on this car on that unforgettable day in American history,” said Steve Davis, president of the Barrett-Jackson Auction, which will handle the sale of the Cadillac hearse. “It’s one of the most significant and historical vehicles ever offered for sale.”
The hearse was originally created as a showpiece for a trade show by the Miller Meteor Company and then sold to the O’Neal Funeral Home, in Dallas just a month before JFK’s November 22, 1963 assassination.
The hearse remained in use at the funeral home until later that decade then sold to employee Arrdeen Vaughan. He, in turn, kept it for more than four decades. It was eventually sold to a private owner who is now putting it up for auction.
The Barrett-Jackson Auction also offered the 1963 Pontiac Bonneville ambulance claimed to have carried the mortally wounded president to the hospital after he was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. Though there had been some controversy when that ambulance went on sale last year.
As for the 1961 Lincoln Continental limousine that Kennedy was riding in, it was impounded after the assassination to serve as evidence. Codenamed X-100 by the Secret Service, it had cost an estimated $200,000 to prepare – more than 25 times the actual cost of a stock Continental at the time.
The limousine eventually went through an extensive renovation process that included the addition of an armored top. It was ultimately used by Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter before being retired in 1977. It is now on display at the Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn, Michigan.
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