A 1964 Lincoln Continental limo used for official papal/astronaut business will be auctioned off by Bonhams later this month. It comes complete with a detachable roof section and rooftop windshield for all those parades you’ve got on the docket.
This limousine is a reminder of the indulgence that has so often gone hand-in-hand with that funny hat. The Vatican specially ordered the car in 1965 from the Ford Motor Company, because Pope Paul VI needed something to ride in as he went to address the United Nations in New York. In two weeks, the car was not only turned into a 21-foot “stretch” Continental but had a host of other modifications.
There were exterior steps and handrails added for security, while additional seating was added for “aides and prelates.” The Pope himself got a raised seat, in addition to a public address system. But, as the listing notes, the most obvious feature is the roof, which had a detachable section added so the pope could pop up through it, as well as a second 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 event in New York, the limo was lent to the city of Chicago, where it was used to ferry around important visitors. But in 1968, the pope planned a visit to South America and decided he wanted it back for the occasion. So it was shipped to Bogota, Colombia, and modified again so it could work at the much higher elevation there. As they say, the Pope wants what the Pope wants.
The car was returned to Chicago and later that year the limo started its second life in the spotlight as a transport for astronauts. The crews of Apollo 8, Apollo 11, Apollo 13 and Apollo 15 would all ride through those streets in the same Continental. Which means, if you’re in the market for a such a vehicle, you could sit not only where a pope sat but where Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and James Lovell rested their space legs.
The car, retired from public use in the 1970s, is valued at $250,000 to $350,000. The auction is set to be held on Aug. 19 in California.
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