By Darrel Burnett, Executive Director ~ The Automobile Gallery & Event Center
58 years ago this Friday (January 20th, 1965), Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in for his second — and only full-term, as the 36th President of the United States. The occasion marked the first time that a President was chauffeured in the inaugural parade in a bulletproof limousine; a tragic consequence of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22nd, 1963.
What may surprise you, is that LBJ’s Inaugural Day limo was the very 1961 Lincoln Continental in which President Kennedy was riding when he was assassinated that tragic day in Dallas!
When the federal government was informed that it would literally take years to build a new bulletproof limousine, Ford Motor Company and Hess & Eisenhardt were ordered to rebuild JFK’s limo with bulletproof armor and a much larger engine — capable of accommodating nearly 10,000 pounds of protection.
To his credit President Johnson demanded the color of the limo be changed from Midnight Blue to Black. Even then, LBJ rarely ever agreed to ride in it again. Interestingly, black has remained the official color of all Presidential Limousines and Secret Service vehicles since that day.
That historic Presidential Limo quietly remained in the Presidential motorcade into the Carter Administration, until it was permanently retired in 1978. Today, it resides in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Presidential Red 1966 Jeep Tuxedo Park Mark IV — just added to our collection at The Automobile Gallery & Event Center — enjoys a close connection to LBJ’s 1965 inauguration. On that day, Kaiser Jeep took advantage of the national limelight to unveil the new Jeep Tuxedo Park Mark IV to America.
No one has ever yet been able to explain is how a small independent like Kaiser Jeep could pull off a major marketing coup of this proportion: 60 Jeep Tuxedo Park Mark IVs arrived in Washington D.C., appropriately painted red, white, and blue, and pulled every parade float at the inauguration — with active Marines behind each wheel!
Targeted at hip, well-to-do young owners in search of fun with a touch of finesse, the Tuxedo’s mission was to transform Jeep’s image from no-frills to all thrills. Chrome bumpers, chrome windshield hinges, special badging, chrome taillights, wheel covers, and calf grain vinyl upholstery were just part of the package.
Even more impressive is its 225 cubic inch Dauntless Buick V-6 with 160 horsepower, more than double the standard 4-cylinder Jeep engine.
Stop in at The Automobile Gallery & Event Center, and drink in the beauty of this ingenious Jeep so rare that few people even know they were ever built.
We’re thrilled to own a Tuxedo that never goes out of style!