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Armored vehicle maker that retrofitted JFK’s limo is closing

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Posted at 4:58 PM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 16:58:55-05

CINCINNATI (AP) — An armored vehicle maker that customized the limousine in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 will shut down its operations.

The O’Gara Hess Eisenhardt Armoring Company filed a notice last week that it will layoff all of its employees in Fairfield, Ohio, and close permanently.

The military contractor with a long history of building armored cars for world leaders and celebrities traces its roots back to the late 1800s. The company said it had been trying for months to raise enough money to stay open but no longer has enough capital to keep paying its workers.

The company, known as Hess & Eisenhardt in the 1960s, reinforced Kennedy’s presidential limousine after it was built by Ford Motor Co. at its plant in Wixom, Michigan, in 1961.

The limousine was cut in half and extended by 3 1/2 feet at Hess & Eisenhardt’s factory in Cincinnati, according to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where the car is on display.

Among the modifications added were removable transparent roof panels, a hydraulic rear seat that could elevate the president and steps for Secret Service agents.

Kennedy, at the urging of local politicians, ordered the reflective glass shield atop the limousine removed for his visit to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

After Kennedy’s assassination, the limousine underwent more modifications at Hess & Eisenhardt and was returned to the White House in 1964, according to the Henry Ford Museum.