JFK Hearse at Barrett-Jackson Sells for $176,000
The then-brand new white, 1964 Cadillac hearse carried JFK from the Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas to Love Field Airport for transport to Washington, D.C. with wife Jacqueline alongside. That was on November 22, 1963. The hearse is one of the few fully authenticated cars to be associated with the assassinated president sold at auction.
The hearse was put to auction at the annual Barrett-Jackson event in Scottsdale, Arizona this year, where it was purchased for $160,000 plus $16,000 in buyer's premium by Stephen Tebo of Boulder, Colorado, who plans to add the car to his collection of over 400 cars.
The Cadillac has seen many owners, beginning life as a display model at a funeral home convention in Dallas, where it was purchased by O'Neal Funeral Home there just weeks before transporting the President on that fateful day. Television images of the car were broadcast nationally to grieving audiences who, says Barrett-Jackson CEO Craig Jackson, finally realized that JFK was really dead. "It just sort of sunk into everybody that he's gone," he said of the day.
The car was purchased by a hearse collector in Texas shortly after being retired from service from O'Neal. It went unrestored until purchase by an unnamed owner who put it up for auction this year.
As for its current owner, he won't be sitting on the car as its previous owners did. The fully-restored Cadillac will enter his collection and become part of a museum he plans to open in the next 5 to 10 years. His collection is housed in Longmont, Colorado. It's currently not open to the public except on special occasions four times a year, where he allows viewing to benefit non-profit groups in Colorado. His collection houses some beautiful specimens of automotive appearances in popular culture, including a 1965 Rolls Royce custom made for John Lennon and a taxi used in the television show Seinfeld.
He originally had expected to hearse to bid very high at the Barret-Jackson auction and was not planning to try to buy. When it did not see the half million dollar prices he was expected, however, he took the opportunity. Tebo prefers significant vehicles to traditional classics, going for collectible value rather than appearances.
"We remember specifically seeing the hearse leaving the hospital and driving very, very slow to Air Force One and loading the casket on Air Force One. It was just an incredibly dramatic time in our lives," Tebo said.