A 1963 gray Pontiac Bonneville Navy Ambulance that carried the body of President John F. Kennedy after he was assassinated in 1963, sold for $120,000 at an auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., in January.
Barret-Jackson Auction officials in Scottsdale verified the authenticity of the vehicle for sale in a press release sent to me along with iconic photos taken at Andrews Air Force Base the night of Nov. 22, 1963. The photos show the newly widowed first lady, Jackie Kennedy, looking dazed, her dress still stained with her husband's blood, holding the hand of her brother-in-law, Robert F. Kennedy, as they watched J.F.K.'s flag-draped casket placed into an ambulance, and transported to Bethesda Naval hospital for his autopsy and later to the U.S. capitol to lie in state.
The buyer who purchased the ambulance said she wanted to own a "piece of history" and plans to keep the vehicle in her collection for now and will see if the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., is interested in the ambulance. It belongs somewhere people can see it and experience it, she says.
The ambulance was originally put up for sale by a Kansas, Mo., anesthesiologist, who bought it for an undisclosed price in 2009. Estimates of the vehicle's value varied widely, with some projecting it would fetch over $1 million at auction.
Readers, can you remember what you were doing that sad day Nov. 22, 1963, when you learned President Kennedy had been assassinated? I was in the ninth grade at Washington Junior High School in Parkersburg. The principal let all the students go home. It was a very sad day walking home. He was really a great president.
Larry Koon is the author of several price guide books on antiques and collectibles. His column appears every Monday on Life. Send letters to Treasure in the Attic, c/o The Marietta Times, 700 Channel Lane, Marietta 45750; or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. When writing, send a complete description of the item, along with size, color, any markings on the item along with condition the item is in, and how the item was obtained, and any other information. If possible, send a photograph. Letters will be answered through this column.