• A pinnacle of 1960s American automotive design, the “suicide door” Lincoln Continental was the transportation of choice for many a celebrity.
• This all-white convertible, which is being auctioned at Bring A Trailer, was the personal vehicle of Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36st President of the United States.
• It was used by LBJ to tour his sprawling Texas ranch, making this Continental both a mid-century icon and a rolling piece of presidential history.
Politics aside, there are many reasons to admire the character of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Especially when it comes to cars: he owned an Amphicar and was known to terrify unsuspecting passengers by pretending to lose control and “crash” into a lake where the car simply drifted away. He was a big man with a Texas-sized personality, and when he needed something to drive around his 1,500-acre farm, LBJ went big there, too.
Delivered to the LBJ Corporation of Austin, Texas in October 1963, this 1964 Lincoln Continental is currently up for auction on the website Bring a Trailer—which, as Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos. Bidding is $75,000, with the auction expected to end on Wednesday, November 16.
What you get for your money here is a piece of history and a truly elegant machine. LBJ himself can be a bit crude—the recording of a phone call ordering pants is legendarily crass—but his taste in cars can’t be faulted here.
The fourth-generation Lincoln Continental was the Ford Motor Company’s broadside against Cadillac, and it hit home. Beautiful in the simplicity of its design, it was finished to a very high quality, and it immediately found favor with the nation’s elite. The convertible version was the first four-door convertible offered by an American manufacturer in the post-World War II era.
Powered by a 7.0-liter V-8 producing 320 horsepower, mated to a three-speed automatic transmission, the Continental was extremely heavy, but not exactly slow. Essentially a road-going pleasure yacht, it was intended for relaxed boulevard cruising, the type of glitzy transport you might see cruising down the Las Vegas strip. For 1964 it received a mid-cycle refresh, but the front end was changed again for 1965. Probably the ’64 is the best looking of them all.
Another Continental, this one a long limousine in black, would bring tragedy into LBJ’s life. But barely a month before the assassination of President Kennedy, this car arrived in Texas as the complete reverse of the weight of the rule. Until 1969, this white Continental served as LBJ’s pressure relief valve as he drove it around his sprawling Texas ranch.
According to reports, LBJ had his Continentals (he owned two) fitted with snow tires, the better to handle rough terrain. Among the larger-than-life stories that come with this car is the story of how he often had an ice bucket and Cutty Sark whiskey in his hand while driving around the farm. When the mug runs dry, LBJ sticks his arm out the window and rattles the ice cubes; one of the Secret Service agents following him would jump out and refill the cup. It wasn’t on a public road, so President Johnson seemed to take the attitude that this behavior was no different than a cocktail while cruising.
The car has seen a light restoration in its life and has only 16,000 miles on the odometer. Any Continental from this era will 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 iced tea.
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