LeMay-America’s Car Museum (ACM), Tacoma, Wash., announced the surprise arrival of a 1964 Lincoln Continental limousine custom made to protect Pope Paul VI, and later used to shuttle Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell along ticker-tape parades in Chicago.
The one-off limo was specialty ordered by the Vatican in 1965 for Pope Paul’s visit to New York and customized by Chicago-based Lehmann-Peterson coachbuilders. In just two weeks, the car was stretched to nearly 21 ft., the roof was made fully removable, and a bulletproof shell and windscreen were installed. The limo was also given additional seating, special lighting and a public address system, according to an ACM press release.
In 1968, the Vatican had the limo shipped to Columbia for the 39th International Eucharistic Congress. It again underwent extensive modifications to allow for more seating, as well as better air circulation at higher elevations.
“The Papal Continental is an astounding example of Americana,” said Scot Keller, ACM chief marketing and communications officer. “The number of influential people who’ve ridden inside this car is staggering. From the first man to walk on the moon to His Holiness -¦ needless to say, this is an extremely unique automobile.”
The ’64 Continental is on loan to ACM from a prominent local collector and is currently being displayed in the museum’s front lobby.
“Equally as impressive as the car’s historical provenance is the level of ingenuity that went into customizing it,” Keller said. “Visitors should examine it closely because the devil’s in the details.”
For more information on the Lincoln or ACM, visit www.lemaymuseum.org.