The 1966 and 1967 Lincoln limousine explored new territory. In 1966, Bob Peterson flew to Washington to present to the government his ideas for replacing the aging Kennedy-era presidential limousine.
Armed with his knowledge of lightweight metals and plastics, he set out to convince the government that a new car could do all that was demanded of it and still retain the strength of armor plating without as much weight. He succeeded, returning home with orders for a White House limousine and two new Secret Service security-detail convertibles.
The Secret Service cars were equipped with 11-inch-wide running boards, which extended the length of the bodysides between the wheels, plus assist handles and bars for agents to grasp. The rear doors were reworked to allow entry from the running boards while the car was in motion. This was achieved by cutting the doors in half and hinging them to allow the front portion to slide over the rear half, not unlike the way modern minivan doors operate.
For normal entry and exit, the rear doors opened and closed in the conventional manner. The rear bumper was hinged so that it could swing down to form a platform that was operated hydraulically so it could be adjusted to the optimum height for the men standing on it. An assist bar for them to grab could be retracted flush into the trunklid when not needed.
Convertible tops were made of transparent vinyl trimmed with black cloth. The divided front seats were altered so that a man could ride facing the rear on the portion between the seats. Front and rear seats and the convertible top were elevated three inches for better visibility. As far as security goes, the car was a rolling arsenal.
As the Secret Service didn't take delivery of the convertibles until October 1967, the cars were trimmed as 1968 models. That made them more unique; Lincoln had dropped ragtops from regular production after 1967 due to declining public demand. The presidential limousine would take a bit longer.
Trim on the Executive Limousine was changed a bit for 1967. A new privacy shield just behind the front doors became standard. It added to the overall lines of the limo, plus helped to break up the mass of glass seen in profile on earlier models. Inside, the companion seats could now be folded up like theater seats. Dictation equipment, high-intensity reading lamps, and a rear-seat center armrest storage compartment were new options. Sales came to 110 units.
By the end of the year, Lehmann had recouped his initial $600,000 investment and the company was operating in the black. Now, more than ever, his attention was focused on keeping the company on this upward swing. He also entertained thoughts of marriage in the not-too-distant future. But he began having migraine headaches, which he passed off as a consequence of work-related stress.
Being co-owner of a successful business was a big enough job, but Lehmann managed to find time for some special pet projects. He built a dune buggy and he had a Ferrari Testa Rosa reworked so that it wouldn't stall at every red light. With other adjustments, this small, brutal, blindingly fast racing machine was made street legal. He also owned and enjoyed a 1935 Packard Twelve.
Meanwhile, Peterson's spare time was spent researching and developing economy ambulances based on Ford and Mercury station wagons. All were fully equipped once a prefabricated unit was installed. Plus, another company was purchased; it customized full-sized buses into motorhomes before that became a popular trend.
See the next page for information on the 1968 Lincoln limousine.
For more information on cars, see: