For sale: Car, lightly used by pope and astronauts

August 4, 2011

SpiritBlog

Photo courtesy of Bonhams

In the market for a new car?

If so, and you have a lot of money to spend, you might consider buying this limo that was used by Pope Paul VI and some Apollo astronauts.

Bonhams, which describes itself as “one of the world’s oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques,” describes the car — to be auctioned Aug. 19 in Carmel, Calif., this way:

The 1964 Lincoln Continental Limousine was built at the special request of the Vatican to Ford Motor Company to convey Pope Paul VI through New York to address the United Nations on World Peace. It was rushed to completion in a span of less than two weeks from receipt of the request to delivery of the finished parade car to New York on October 5, 1965.

The wheelbase is stretched to a massive 160″ with an overall length of nearly 21 feet. Exterior step plates and handrails for security, additional interior seating for aides and prelates, a raised seat for the Pontiff, extra interior lighting, public address system, auxiliary power from a bank of seven batteries were only a few of the many detail changes.

The most visible attribute is the removable roof section, transparent rear landaulet roof and roof-mounted auxiliary windshield to protect the Pope and his entourage while allowing the thongs of spectators that lined the parade route to see the Pontiff.

After the Papal visit the Lincoln was loaned to the city of Chicago — after removal of the bubble top, Papal chair and associated internal fittings — where it served as a parade car and courtesy vehicle for visiting dignitaries.

In 1968 the Vatican remembered its performance and once again called upon Ford to use it for another Papal visit, this time to Bogotá, Colombia for the 39th Eucharistic Congress.  The task was complicated by Bogotá’s altitude, 8,600 feet above sea level, which required extensive engine modifications, aviation gasoline from the Colombian Air Force and a comprehensive kit of tools and spare parts.

On December 27, 1968 the Apollo 8 mission, the first manned space flight to orbit the moon, splashed down in the Pacific. Its astronauts, mission Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders were fêted with a tickertape parade through Chicago. They rode in this Lehmann-Peterson Lincoln Continental, as would the Apollo 11 (Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin), 13 (Lovell, Mattingly, Haise) and 15 (Scott, Worden, Irwin) astronauts as well.

It has been carefully maintained in completely original and well preserved condition as it was taken out of public service in the early 70’s.

The 1964 Lincoln Continental Parade Limousine has a marvelous history intricately entwined with some of the most memorable events of the Sixties and early Seventies, the Apollo space program and Pope Paul VI’s outreach to world leaders and citizens with his message of peace and understanding.

Its equipment includes the auxiliary power, climate control systems and dual rear-facing auxiliary seats added for the Bogotá, Colombia Papal excursion. It has enjoyed both special care and attention during its period as a Ford Motor Company special use vehicle and subsequently in collections that have appreciated and honored its special status and the important personages who have been favored to ride in it.

Its 21-foot long presence is imposing, as it should be for its history and importance, a reflection of the gravity of the accomplishments of its passengers.

So, who do you think should buy this? And, how much do you think it will go for?

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About Joe Towalski

Editor of The Catholic Spirit, husband, dad, baseball fan(atic), astronomy buff. Follow me on Twitter @towalskij

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