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TACOMA, Wash. (Feb. 20, 2013) – Talk about a gift from the heavens: LeMay – America’s Car Museum (ACM) announced the surprise arrival of a 1964 Lincoln Continental limousine custom-made to protect Pope Paul VI and later used to shuttle Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell along ticker-tape parades in Chicago.
The one-off limo is on loan to ACM from a prominent local collector and is currently being displayed in the museum’s front lobby.
“The Papal Continental is an astounding example of Americana,” said Scot Keller, ACM chief marketing and communications officer. “The number of influential people who’ve ridden inside this car is staggering. From the first man to walk on the moon to His Holiness…needless to say, this is an extremely unique automobile.”
The ’64 Continental was specialty-ordered by the Vatican in 1965 for Pope Paul’s visit to New York and customized by Chicago-based Lehmann-Peterson coachbuilders. In a mere two weeks, the car was stretched to nearly 21 feet, the roof was made fully removable and a bulletproof shell and windscreen were installed to protect the Pontiff. The limo was also given additional seating, special lighting and a public address system.
In 1968, the Vatican had the limo shipped to Columbia for the 39th International Eucharistic Congress. It again underwent extensive modifications to allow for more seating, as well as better air circulation at higher elevations.
The Papal Continental was later used to parade American astronauts numerous times through the streets of the Windy City.
“Equally as impressive as the car’s historical provenance is the level of ingenuity that went into customizing it,” said Keller. “Visitors should examine it closely because the devil’s in the details.”
For more information on the Lincoln or ACM, visit www.lemaymuseum.org.
About America’s Car Museum (www.lemaymuseum.org)
State Farm Presents LeMay – America’s Car Museum, which opened June 2, 2012 in downtown Tacoma, Wash., explores how the automobile has fulfilled a distinctive role at the core of the American experience and shaped our society. The spacious Museum with rotating exhibits is designed to be the centerpiece for automotive history as well as an educational center and library. The campus, located adjacent to the Tacoma Dome, also contains a 3.5-acre show field, theatre, café, banquet hall and meeting facilities. To get information on museum hours, becoming an ACM member, volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, visit www.lemaymuseum.org.