The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

November 18, 2013

Car on display in Dearborn inspires silence, memories

DEARBORN, Mich. — The presidential limousine looks different than it did on Nov. 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was fatally shot while riding in the convertible in Dallas.

But visitors to the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn still stop in their tracks when they spot the vehicle on display.

“I see them pass by and then slow down and stop and then look at the car and look at the label,” Curator of Public Life Donna Braden said.

The limousine still resonates as a symbol of that day nearly 50 years ago. Some stay silent upon approaching the exhibit.

“I think they’re all doing a personal commemoration and going back to their memories; the memories are very strong,” she said.

Visitors can check out the car and the rest of the museum on the anniversary of the assassination when, on Friday, the Henry Ford offers free admission.

The four-door convertible, a 1961 Lincoln Continental, was built at a Wixom, Mich., plant and modified in Cincinnati with special features befitting its presidential purpose.

Customized accoutrements included removable roof pieces, a hydraulic seat, and steps for Secret Service agents, according to Ms. Braden’s research.

After President Kennedy’s assassination, the car was armored and a permanent roof was installed, among other modifications that illustrated the shifting focus from presidential access and visibility to protection and security.

Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon both rode in parades in the car, and it was used as a backup for Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. During President Nixon’s term, a roof door was added so he could pop up during parades.

Ford Motor Co., from whom the Secret Service had leased the vehicle, donated it to the museum after it was retired from White House duty in 1977.

It took several years before the museum put it on public display, Ms. Braden said. Among the reasons why officials hesitated to highlight the car immediately is because President Kennedy’s children were still young, and the assassination was “still too close to people’s memories,” she said.

“It increasingly became an appropriate symbol of the presidency for us to exhibit and talk about, and now we just take for granted that we have the car,” Ms. Braden said.

1
Text Only
Local News
Ashtabula County Alive
July 4 Celebrations 2014
Summer off to Big Start
Ashtabula County Flag Day 2014
Northeast Ohio Soap Box Derby 2014
Tour de State Line and Boating Season
Ashtabula County Memorial Day 2014
Sam Magill Sr. Memorial
Armed Forces Echo Taps 2014
Lakeside Loop Color Run
Keeping Ashtabula County Clean and Healthy
Canoe Race and Ashtabula Easter Events
The Taping of the Teacher: A sticky Sitation
18th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Geneva State Park
House Ads
AP Video
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza