May 20, 2005

Today in Automotive History 1961

Today in Automotive History

1961 Sweet Chariot

The Ford Motor Company completed a highly modified stretch Lincoln Continental convertible sedan for the U.S. Secret Service to be used as a presidential limousine. The limo, later known as the SS-100-X, carried President John F. Kennedy down Elm Street in Dallas, Texas, when he was assassinated in 1963.

The videotapes and the forensic reports of the assassination have become an American obsession in the years since President Kennedy's death. It is now readily believed that the government withheld information necessary to a proper investigation, though it is as yet unclear whether this interference actually led to a botched conclusion on the part of the Warren Commission.

The 1961 Continental has played a major role in countless re-creations of the event. Since the recent release of Abraham Zapruder's "Z-tapes," even more detailed recreations have been undertaken. Gary Mack, a documentary cameraman, took part in one of these re-creations. In comparing his film with that of the original tape of the assassination, he noticed that the replica 1961 Continental used in the re-creation of the assassination actually sat higher than did the SS-100-X. He also noted that in the replica '61 Lincoln, a console separated the two "jump seats" in the car's back seat. No such obstacle existed when Governor Connally slid across the car to protect President Kennedy.

The process of re-creating, down to the last detail, the forensic evidence at hand on the day of the assassination is daunting, if not futile. In order to determine the number of shots fired and the angles from which they were fired, investigators need to be sure--down to the millimeter--of the position of certain key players. Taking into account that over the course of 30 years the buildings have sunk imperceptibly, the people involved have shrunken slightly, and the trees have grown, it's no wonder that the only answer to the Kennedy mystery is that it is mysterious.

P.S. - The Lincoln that Kennedy was shot in is at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Posted by Quality Weenie at May 20, 2005 07:27 AM