Is JFK ambulance at Barrett-Jackson auction a fake?

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on January 21, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 21 at 4:48 PM

Map: WestWorld of Scottsdale

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The ambulance that carried John F. Kennedy's body is due to go on the auction block Saturday, but a new online report claims the 1963 Pontiac Bonneville is a fake.

The website Jalopnik.com calls the car at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction a "near-perfect fake."

The report cites historians with the Professional Car Society who said the real JFK ambulance was destroyed in 1986. The site posted pictures of what it claims is the real JFK ambulance in a crusher at a Boston junkyard. A representative of the Kennedy Presidential Library reportedly witnessed the car's destruction.

Jalopnik.com also cites a 1988 letter from the Department of the Navy in which Commander P.D. Chamberlin wrote, "We understand the vehicle was destroyed."

The Professional Car Society reportedly had dealt with another possible counterfeit 10 years ago in California.

Officials with Barrett-Jackson said the car they have is the real deal and they have proof to back it up. They, along with Dr. John Jensen, who currently owns the ambulance, will host a news conference Friday morning to address the allegations.

Barrett-Jackson organizers early on said they had the original documentation and authentication proving that the car up for auction is real.

The JFK ambulance met Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base after Kennedy was assassinated and moved the president's casket from the base to Bethesda Naval Hospital and then later to the U.S. Capitol.

According to the description of the car, Lot 1277, on the Barrett-Jackson website: " Following naval service, the ambulance was moth-balled and eventually sold as surplus. It is PHS [Pontiac Historical Society] documented. It was shown at the 2010 Military Vehicle Preservation Association National Convention where it won the Gold Award."

The auction of the JFK ambulance has been the subject of worldwide attention since Barrett-Jackson announced it in December.

“Not only did the ambulance transport JFK following his untimely death, it’s one of the finest examples of an un-restored ambulance from that time period,” said Barrett-Jackson president Steve Davis in a December news release. "It’s also, without a doubt, one of the most significant and historical vehicles ever offered for sale."

The Barrett-Jackson car auction runs through Jan. 23 at WestWorld of Scottsdale.

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