The 1964 and 1965 Lincoln limousines made by Lehmann-Peterson continued to succeed. At $15,153 to start in 1964, the Lincoln Continental Executive Limousine was priced fairly squarely between Cadillac's Series 75 at $9,960 and the $18,500 asked for a Ghia-built Crown Imperial. Output rose to 15 units, making the Lincoln an instant -- though very distant -- number two in the three-way domestic limousine sales race.
Lehmann-Peterson's experience in producing limousines for Lincoln put the firm in line to carry out some critical special jobs. In September 1965, the Vatican announced that Pope Paul VI would visit New York City on October 4. Ford was enlisted to supply an appropriate vehicle and it gave the job -- and the publicity that went with it -- to Lehmann-Peterson.
There was only one catch: The car had to be ready in five days! "The impossible can be done right away," goes a saying, "but miracles take a little longer." This project fell somewhere in between, because the shop ultimately was granted an extra day to finish it. At a cost of $15,500, a crew of 40 worked day and night to complete the job.
The famous "Popemobile" was based on one of the special-order limousines Ford had requested for testing in 1963. (It had a 1964-style grille.) Special features included:
- A seat that could be elevated for the pontiff, per a church rule that the pope always be above the public.
- A cutaway section of the roof with a "flying bridge" windscreen to protect standing riders.
- Lights to illuminate the pope when inside the car.
- A public-address system.
- Flag holders on both front fenders for United Nations, U.S., and papal flags, plus lights to be shown on them at night.
- Oversized retractable running boards at the sides and rear for use by security personnel.
Meanwhile, in Lehmann-Peterson's main business, Executive Limousine output tripled in 1965, with about 50 units sold. The 1966 model year saw a continued refinement of the Continental design, with the most extensive restyle since 1961. This, of course, carried over to the Lehmann-Peterson limousine, which enjoyed another tripling of sales to 159 units.
See the next page to follow the Lincoln Limousine into 1966 and 1967.
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