'John F Kennedy's ambulance' brings $132,000 at Barrett-Jackson sale

Barrett-Jackson is one of the most distinguished classic car auctioneers in the world. So collectors have been paying close attention to their sale in Scottsdale this week.

However, on this occasion one of the lots drew rather more attention from the general public than usual - and it wasn't a typical classic car.

Instead it was a 1963 Pontiac Bonneville Ambulance (94-49196) which was part of a grim moment in American history. It was used to transport President John F Kennedy's body from Air Force One following his assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

Or at least that was the claim and belief of the consignor. In the run-up to the auction a number of questions had been raised about the authenticity of the piece, with some even building a case that the original had been destroyed in 1986.

John F Kennedy ambulance
John F Kennedy ambulance
(Click to enlarge)

Regardless, the vehicle was sold. It was described in the auction as follows:

"[It was] made in June 1963 and was one of 15 delivered to various service branches. Its U.S. Navy data plate shows it was assigned to Bethesda Naval Hospital.

"Following President John F. Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963 it met Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base. 94-49196 was used to transport President Kennedy's flag draped casket as well as members of the Kennedy family from Andrews to Bethesda and later to the U.S. Capitol.

"Following naval service, the ambulance was moth-balled and eventually sold as surplus. It is PHS documented. It was shown at the 2010 Military Vehicle Preservation Association National Convention where it won the Gold Award. It has appeared in Supply Line magazine and is featured on the Pontiac Online website."

The car left the stage for $132,000, and the new owner is reported to be Addison Brown of Arizona, who owns an impressive car collection together with her husband Walt.

Coincidentally, another classic automobile is currently on the market with a link to the Kennedys, this being a unique 1961 Cadillac 'Jacqueline' Coupé, created by the Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina in honour of America's First Lady, Jackie Kennedy.

There are other, more affordable, Kennedy collectibles available on the market, including this autographed note.

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