5 Famous Death Cars — Where Are They Now?


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The JFK Lincoln Continental

JFK assasination limo
The dark blue Lincoln Continental convertible limousine in which John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy rode through the streets of Dallas in a customized dark blue Lincoln Continental convertible. The vehicle, code-named X-100 by the Secret Service, was the most technologically advanced presidential limousines that had ever been built, equipped with a pair of radio telephones, spotlight-illuminated flagstaffs on the fenders, and a rear seat with a hydraulic lift that could be raised 11 inches (28 centimeters) to make it easier for spectators to see the president [source: Freeman]. But the open car also made the president vulnerable to attack, as became evident when assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, perched at a sixth-floor window in the Texas School Book Depository, allegedly shot Kennedy and killed him.

You might think that a presidential limousine would be retired after an assassination. But instead, X-100 was given a $500,000 redesign, complete with bullet-resistant glass, a roof and 1,600 pounds of armor. It also was painted black [source: Freeman, Associated Press]. The car got additional modifications in 1967, and was used by Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter before it was retired in 1977. It's now on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan [source: Henry Ford Museum].

Learn more about the JFK assassination in "JFK: Assassination Rehearsal" by Nick M. Nero. HowStuffWorks picks related titles based on books we think you'll like. Should you choose to buy one, we'll receive a portion of the sale.