HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) - For Sale: White 1963 four-door Lincoln Continental convertible. Restored engine. Red leather interior. The last car President John F. Kennedy got out of alive. Asking $1 million.
Kennedy used the car just once, the morning of Nov. 22, 1963. The Secret Service had borrowed it from a Fort Worth, Texas, dealer for a motorcade there. The president then flew to Dallas, where he was assassinated.
Now it's for sale on the Internet auction site eBay.
The white Lincoln should not be confused with the blue 1961 Lincoln Continental limousine in which Kennedy was shot. That is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.
"It's actually rather reasonably priced," said John Reznikoff, a Westport antiques dealer who restored the white Lincoln and is selling it on eBay.
After all, Reznikoff said, Kennedy's alligator briefcase sold at auction in 1998 for $772,500 - "and that's just a briefcase," he said.
But Kennedy experts and memorabilia collectors say pricing such items can be tricky. They point out that Kennedy's sailboat was pulled from the same 1998 auction block when the top bid hit only $800,000.
The eBay sale was set to end Nov. 25, three days after the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. Thursday morning, eBay recorded a $1 million offer, but the bid had not been authenticated, said Joe Bertini of The Classic Car Gallery in Fairfield, where the car is being kept. The eBay listing was removed while the bid was being verified.
Suzanne Vlach, a Kennedy memorabilia collector from Washington, expected the car to be a hard sell.
"He needs someone who is a car collector, and a Kennedy collector, and someone with that much money," she said.
Bob Casey, the Henry Ford museum's curator of transportation, said the 1963 Continental is an interesting piece. "But from a historical standpoint, it's not of major significance."
Reznikoff, who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the world's largest collection of historical human hair, disagrees.
Whoever buys the car will receive documentation showing how it went from a morbid roadside attraction to an abandoned junker to a glistening machine with a $1 million price tag.
After the Secret Service returned the car to the dealer it was sold to a Dallas man, who traded it to an eccentric St. Augustine, Florida, collector named Buddy Hough.
Hough owned the Tragedy in U.S. Museum, a sideshow of relics from infamous events. He also owned the ambulance that took Lee Harvey Oswald - the man accused of shooting Kennedy - to the hospital and the 1966 Buick Electra in which actress Jayne Mansfield was killed.
"Of all the things he owned, that was the thing he loved the most," said Charlene Brimmer, a family friend. "He had this dream that he was going to drive it around the country and share it."
Two years after Hough died in 1996, his widow auctioned off his exhibits. Reznikoff phoned in the winning bid of $17,500 for the Lincoln.
A mint 1963 Continental sells today for about $25,000, said Hank Henley of the Lincoln Continental Owners Club in Canyon Lake, Texas. But the Kennedy Continental, neglected and allowed to rust, was a wreck.
It took more than $100,000 and four years to restore the car, Reznikoff said. He has been too afraid to venture out of the garage with it, but says the engine runs well.
If the car does not sell, Reznikoff said he'll consider using a traditional auction house. Or he might keep it.
Either way, he plans to take the car a spin before he parts with it.
On The Net:
Reznikoff's company: http://www.universityarchives.com