Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lyndon Johnson's Low-Tech Limousine

My father worked in Ford Motor Company's Design Center. When I was a child he told me about a car that was customized for a U.S. President. It had been a long time since I had heard the story so I asked him to fill me in on the details again. This is what he wrote me:

The presidential limo was built for Lyndon Johnson after Kennedy was assassinated. A guy at Ford had worked on it at a shop somewhere in Detriot area. According to him, all the air space between the inner and outer sheet metal was filed with marbles to keep bullets from going through. A ½ inch thick metal plate was ordered to cover the entire underside of the vehicle. When the plate was delivered it was ¾ of an inch thick so that’s what they used. The bullet proof glass was was 6 inches thick. When Lyndon got in the back seat he felt so claustrophobic that they had to rework the rear windows so they could go up and down. The windshield was so thick and caused so much distortion that the drivers had to take Dramamine to keep from getting sick.

It’s hard to imagine a car being reworked enough to accommodate 6 inch think glass but, according to an Englishman named Malcolm Dooley, that’s how it was done.

While driving from Washington to Detroit, two secret service agents had to stop on the expressway and have the limousine weighed at a weigh station. The people running the truck scale couldn’t believe a car could weigh that much. (I don’t know what the weight was).

I remember my father telling me that the gas tank had a sponge and extraction pump so that the fuel wouldn't leak out if the tank was ruptured. My father says he doesn't really remember that part but thinks it sounds so interesting that I should pass it along as fact.

Security technology has come a long way, but you have to give props to that generation. When they needed something or needed to get something done they just rolled up their sleeves and did it, or build it, with their bare hands.

6 inch glass and marbles. Badass.


AllSeasonCobraaaaah said...

i believe it.
can't envision 6 inch glass, but then again, i'd never believe tens of thousands of american families once built bomb shelters in their own backyards.
imagine growing up in those days.

Thomas Sherman said...

excellent point

no i cant imagine growing up in those days. having A-Bomb drills in elementary school and curling up like a roley-poley bug, saying cheese and waiting for the flash

Bob Ichter said...

Guys, I grew up in Cape Kennedy Florida, my dad was a rocket scientist at the cape and next door to our subdivision was Patrick Air Force Base. We had A bomb drills monthly in elementary school...although, frankly, at that age, I'm pretty sure I had no understanding of just how bad it would be if we were bombed...we were scared and just did what we were told. By the way, I hear now that the best thing is to get next to the desk, not under it [ this is for you Sherman, in case you're in an earthquake....after roofs collapse, there's always space next to furniture, but often, not under furniture...don't get squashed]

Toronto Limo said...

Yes, a car built for president is especially made for safety. I might not be riding the new Limos for presidents but I still have the option to ride a gorgeous Limo which are now available for everybody. It sure is a great adventure to have a luxurious travel. What a very unique way to have a ride on a Limo and go places. It's good that Limousine rental service is now just a click away for inquiries and quotation.