SS-100-X

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JFK, Jackie, and the Connallys in the presidential limousine seconds before his assassination

SS-100-X is the U.S. Secret Service code name for the Presidential limousine used by the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. The limousine is the one that Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy were riding in when the President was assassinated in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.

The car is a 1961 Lincoln Continental four door convertible (model 74A)[1] with "suicide doors" (rear-hinged doors) and a retail price of $7,347. It was painted a special midnight blue color and modified to Secret Service specifications by Ford Motor Company's Advanced Vehicles Group, and Hess & Eisenhardt of Cincinnati, Ohio. Together, these two companies created one of the most modern open parade limousines of its day. The limousine was presented to the White House in March 1961, after modifications that cost the United States government approximately $200,000.

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

Specifications[edit]

Pre-assassination[edit]

The car was originally painted in a special shade of midnight blue, and was equipped with a hand-built 350-horsepower 430 cubic inch Ford MEL engine, the wheelbase was extended from the stock 133 to 156 inches, with the additional length being added between the front and rear doors and just beyond the rear doors. 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[1] and retractable steps and grab-handles for Secret Service agents. Following the conversion, the limousine's weight increased from 5215 to 7800 pounds. Although it was not armor-plated, 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).

The vehicle was notorious for its inadequate cooling of the rear of the passenger cabin while the bubble top was in place, particularly in sunshine.[citation needed] In order to prevent excessive heat and discomfort to the passengers, the top was often removed prior to parades, as was the case in Dallas on November 22, 1963, the assassination of Kennedy.[citation needed]

Post-assassination[edit]

The car on display in the Henry Ford Museum

Following the assassination the car was sent back to Hess & Eisenhardt to be modified further, and was rebuilt from the ground up. For protection, the Lincoln received titanium armor plating, bullet-resistant glass and a bulletproof permanent roof. Solid aluminium rims were also fitted inside the tires to make them flat-proof. It remained in service for an additional eight years, logging 50,000 miles on the ground and over one million miles being flown to and from its destinations. The vehicle was equipped with Presidential lap robes and mouton carpeting and a complete communications system including radio patch to the White House. It was replaced in 1967 and remained in service doing less important duties until 1978, when it was retired to the Henry Ford Museum. Finished in Navy blue, the car was repainted after each assignment, however after the assassination it was repainted a more somber black (Johnson thought the blue would be too closely associated with the assassination).[2]

Notes[edit]

See also[edit]