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Some historic cars are famous because they’re beautifully designed. Some vehicles become famous for the role they play in movies. Other vehicles become famous because they played a role in history. Enter the most famous Lincoln Continental in history, JFK’s last ride.

Classic Lincoln Continentals are popular and instantly-recognizable examples of Motor Americana. However, when most people hear the model, they think about the limousine President John F. Kennedy (JFK) and his wife were in on the day he was shot and killed.

Why people are interested in the car JFK was shot in

When it comes to history, people are often less interested in the event and are more concerned about the items a historical person used or that were involved in the event.

For example, many people have limited knowledge about the actual lifestyles of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, but they love catching a glimpse of Washington’s wooden dentures and will stare at the hat Lincoln was wearing when he was murdered.

The same is true of the limousine JFK was riding in at the time of his assassination. When the topic comes up, one of the first questions people ask is what happened to JFK’s famed Lincoln Continental.

During the assassination

A replica of the JFK car, a Lincoln Continental, sits at a display.
A replica of JFK’s presidential car | Jack Taylor, Getty Images

The day started as a celebration. Everyone cheered as JFK and his beautiful wife waved from the backseat of the 4-door, blue, Lincoln Continental they’d selected for the Texas parade.

The cheers turned to screams as the president was struck by a bullet. The car was a fixture in the background while emergency crews fought in vain to save the president’s life.

Following the assassination


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The now-famous car, which was called, X-100 was transported from Texas to the White House, where it was declared a piece of evidence in the murder. 

Instead of being taken directly to a scrapyard, the vehicle when to a mechanic for modifications. A roof was added to the limo as well as protective armor and bulletproof glass. Once those features were in place and the limo was declared mechanically sound, it was returned to the presidential motorcade. Even more surprising is that JFK wasn’t the last president to use that exact car.

With the additional safety measures in place, X-100 returned to the Presidential fleet. Lyndon B. Johnson rode in it for a 25-minute on Oct. 5, 1964, in a parade that was designed to honor Diosdado Macapagal, who was the president of the Philippines.

Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) used it a few times but admitted that he was never 100% comfortable while in the vehicle. Whenever possible, he tried to use a different vehicle. One of the complaints he had was that it had been painted the original blue, at his request, the vehicle was repainted.

A few years later, President Nixon requested that a hole be cut into the roof, per the Daily Mail. This allowed him to wave and nod at people as he was driven past. Later, while he was campaigning, President Ford and his supporter, John Wayne, took advantage of Nixon’s addition to X-100. Jimmy Carter used the car a few times before X-100 was officially retired.

Where is the car today?

The reason car X-100 was returned to the presidential motorcade was economics. It was determined that it was cheaper to make the X-100 safer than it would be to purchase a new, safe presidential limo.

The newly decommissioned vehicle was sent to Detroit, where it remains a very popular exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum.