The vehicle, which the 36th American President drove until his death, will be auctioned by Dan Kruse Classics as part of the Dick Burdick Museum Collection of antique and vintage cars in Rosanky, Texas. This car will be sold alongside 92 other classics, and the proceeds from the sale of Johnson's vehicle will benefit the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation.
The white limo, with a V-8 430 cid (cubic-inch-displacement) that produces 320 horsepower, has a grand tan interior. Johnson was often seen wearing a ten-gallon hat and riding with the top down at his 1,500-acre ranch in Stonewall, Texas in the Texas Hill Country. During Johnson's presidency, the ranch became known as the Texas White House, and he was born and died there. He is buried in the family cemetery on the property.
Joseph A. Califano, Johnson's special assistant, often recalled how the Secret Service would follow Johnson on his brisk rides through the rough terrain of the ranch. Johnson drank Cutty Sark scotch and soda out of a foam cup, and every so often would slow his speed and stick his left arm out of the car, shaking the cup and ice. A dutiful Secret Service agent would sprint to take the cup and another would refill it with his drink of choice.
All the Presidents' vehicles
But the 1964 Lincoln is not the only vehicle with some American history attached that has been for sale recently. The 1964 Cadillac hearse that carried the body of President John F. Kennedy was sold at auction at the 41st Annual Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, AZ for $160,000 on Jan. 21, 2012. Stephen Tebo, a commercial real estate developer in Colorado, bought the car to add to his 400-strong vehicle collection.
The white hearse was built by the Miller-Meteor Company in 1963 and purchased by the O'Neal Funeral Home in Dallas a few weeks before JFK was assassinated. Soon thereafter, Arrdeen Vaughn, believed to be an employee of the O'Neal Funeral Home, purchased the vehicle and kept it for more than 40 years before it was sold privately to a third owner who put it up for auction last month.
Of course, Obama's 2005 Chrysler 300C was recently put on eBay by Illinois resident Tim O'Boyle, who hoped to garner a minimum bid of $1 million. Kelley Blue Book had valued the car at $14,346, but O'Boyle hoped to spring off the car's historical value. The auction, set to end Feb. 1, drew no bids.
Starting the bid too high on an otherwise run-of-the-mill vehicle can be prohibitive to buyers, despite the historical value-add.
Putting value on the car
As for Johnson's limo, Dan Kruse, of Dan Kruse Classics, harbored modest expectations for the vehicle's selling price: the auction estimate is $25,000-$50,000.
"LBJ was and is still one of the most significant Southern Presidents ever, and this is the vehicle he loved to personally drive around his ranch," said Kruse. "He loved the 1964 Lincolns, because they were large and powerful and got him across the fields when needed."
Yet sometimes the narrative history of a car can be more important than the condition of the vehicle. Mark Logan, president of Nevada Classics, Inc. and a common automotive appraisal expert on the show Pawn Stars, estimates the car could go for $700,000 to $800,000, but imagines the price could sky rocket from there if a wealthy LBJ Foundation donor or two want the car and go tit for tat.
"The value of a classic, vintage, or historical vehicle is based far more on the provenance than the quality of the restoration," Logan said. "One-of-a-kind presidential limos have a grand story to tell, which is why they are sought after in the first place. In part, prices are a function of what went on in the back seat, and with whom."
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