• An icon of American automotive design in the 1960s, the “suicide door” Lincoln Continental was the transportation of choice for many famous people.
• This all-white convertible, for the Bring A Trailer auctionwas the personal car of 36-year-old Lyndon Baines Johnsonthousand President of the United States.
• It was used by LBJ for tours of his sprawling Texas ranch, making this Continental both a mid-century icon and a vivid piece of presidential history.
Politics aside, there are many reasons to admire the character of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Especially when it came to cars: he owned an Amphicar and was known to terrorize unsuspecting passengers by pretending to lose control and “crash” into a lake, where the car simply floated away. He was a big man with a character the size of Texas, and when he had to drive something around his 1,500-acre ranch, LBJ went big, too.
This 1964 Lincoln Continental, delivered in October 1963 to the LBJ Corporation of Austin, Texas, is currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer, which as Car and driver, is part of Hearst Autos. Bidding is $75,000 and the auction will end on Wednesday, November 16.
What you get for your money here is both a piece of history and a truly elegant machine. LBJ himself might be a bit rude — the tape of the phone call he’s ordering pants is legendarily rude — but you can’t fault his taste in cars here.
The fourth-generation Lincoln Continental was Ford Motor Company’s matchup against Cadillac, and it hit the mark. Beautiful in the simplicity of its design, it was finished to a very high quality, and immediately found favor with the national elite. The convertible was the first four-door convertible offered by an American manufacturer in the post-World War II era.
Equipped with a 320-horsepower 7.0-liter V-8 and a three-speed automatic transmission, the Continental was extremely heavy, but not terribly slow. Essentially a pleasure yacht, she was meant for relaxed boulevard cruising, the kind of glitzy transport you might see cruising down the Las Vegas Strip. It received a mid-cycle facelift in 1964, but the front end was changed again in 1965. Perhaps the ’64 is the most beautiful of them all.
Another Continental, this time a black limousine, would bring tragedy to LBJ’s life. But less than a month before President Kennedy was assassinated, this car arrived in Texas as the complete opposite of the law. Until 1969, this white Continental served as LBJ’s pressure relief valve as he drove it around his sprawling Texas ranch.
LBJ reportedly had his Continentals (he had two) fitted with snow tires to better handle rough terrain. Among the incredible stories that come with this car is the story of how it often had a glass of ice and Cutty Sark whiskey in hand as it cruised around the ranch. As the cup ran out, LBJ would stick his hand out the window and rattle the ice cubes; one of the Secret Service agents following him would jump out and fill a cup. It wasn’t on a public road, so President Johnson apparently thought the behavior was no different than a cocktail while swimming.
The car has had minor repairs in its lifetime and only has 16,000 miles on the odometer. Any Continental of this era would be special, and here the Presidential provenance adds value to the collector. All you need is your own personal sprawling Texas ranch and maybe a 10-gallon hat, but stick to the iced tea.
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