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Stu Chapman
11-22-2013, 08:47 AM
Today, Friday November 22nd 2013, is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Do you remember what you were doing that sad day in 1963? For me there was a memorable Studebaker/Mercedes-Benz connection.

Mercedes-Benz was still part of the Studebaker family in 1963 and on that day, my assistant, Lillian Morris, and I were driving from Studebaker's Hamilton head office to Toronto to conduct the press announcement of the brand new Mercedes-Benz S600 Grand Pullman Limousine. Although my company car was a 1964 Studebaker Commander Wagonaire, our pool car for the day was a 1964 Mercedes-Benz 220S. We heard the news flash on the car radio..."the President has been shot". By the time we arrived in Toronto for our project, President Kennedy was dead. Needless to say, only a few members of the auto-related media joined us.

But the JFK connection didn't end there. Present with Lillian and me that day was Henry Beckmann, Canadian head of our Mercedes-Benz Division. Just one week later, on November 29th 1963, Mr. Beckman handled the Quebec dealer launch of these cars in Montreal. His Trans Canada Airlines DC8 return flight to Toronto crashed shortly after take-off killing 118, including Henry Beckmann. But also on that plane was a German national by the name of Walter Ohlinger. For those of who read my book, My Father The Car, you will remember the Ohlinger connection to JFK.

As the world knows, there was immediate suspicion that Lee Harvey Oswald had not acted alone. Years later a possible suspect was identified as Walter Ohlinger. His movements following the assassination took him from Dallas to Montreal by car which he eventually parked at Montreal's Dorval Airport. Ohlinger also boarded that fateful TCA flight and was killed. Along with many other scenarios, suspicion was later raised that TCA flight 831 had been sabotaged in order to eliminate a second assassin. We will never know.

Rest in peace President Kennedy.

Stu Chapman

BobPalma
11-22-2013, 09:02 AM
Incredibly interesting, Stu; thanks.

The older we get, the more we see contemporary reports of events through which we've lived. It's interesting to see how modern-day writers report history through which they did not live, having to rely on period accounts of the day. Many (heck, most!) of us on the forum were alive the day Kennedy was assassinated and remember with varying depth, what happened.

It's interesting to see how later writers reflect those times. George Will has an excellent column in many of today's papers, for example. :) BP

8E45E
11-22-2013, 09:10 AM
Mercedes-Benz was still part of the Studebaker family in 1963 and on that day, my assistant, Lillian Morris, and I were driving from Studebaker's Hamilton head office to Toronto to conduct the press announcement of the brand new Mercedes-Benz S600 Grand Pullman Limousine.

Stu,

Do you remember what the Canadian list price was for that car? If I remember reading right, the US list price was around $25K for a Grand Pullman.

Craig

JRoberts
11-22-2013, 09:24 AM
Stu as usual your comments are very interesting and meaningful. Thanks.

Gunslinger
11-22-2013, 10:07 AM
Very interesting. It could be much fodder for conspiracy theorists.

Stu Chapman
11-22-2013, 10:44 AM
Stu,

Do you remember what the Canadian list price was for that car? If I remember reading right, the US list price was around $25K for a Grand Pullman.

Craig

It seems to me the Canadian list was about $30,000.

Stu Chapman

avanti1982
11-22-2013, 10:55 AM
Status: Final
Date: Friday 29 November 1963
Time: 18:33
Type: Douglas DC-8-54F
Operator: Trans-Canada Air Lines - TCAL
Registration: CF-TJN
C/n / msn: 45654/179
First flight: 1963
Total airframe hrs: 2174
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3
Crew: Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Passengers: Fatalities: 111 / Occupants: 111
Total: Fatalities: 118 / Occupants: 118
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: Ste-Thérèse-de-Blainville, QC (Canada) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport: Montreal-Dorval International Airport, QC (YUL/CYUL), Canada
Destination airport: Toronto International Airport, ON (YYZ/CYYZ), Canada
Flightnumber: 831
Narrative:
TCAL Flight 831 from Montreal (YUL) to Toronto (YYZ) was cleared for Toronto at FL290 and was instructed to report climbing through 3000 and 7000 feet. The DC-8 started the takeoff roll on runway 06 at 18:28. Last radio contact with the fight was when the crew reported climbing through 3000 feet, acknowledging a clearance for a left turn to St. Eustache. The aircraft then deviated from its normal flight path about 55deg to the right and began a quick descent. At 18:33, 16.9mls from the airport, the DC-8 struck the ground at a speed of 470-485 knots descending in an angle of about 55deg (+/- 7deg). It was found that the pitch trim compensator actuator was in the extended position and the horizontal stabilizer at setting of 1.9deg nose down on the right hand side and between 1.6deg and 1.7deg nose down on the left hand side.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The probable cause of this accident could not be determined with certainty. Certain possible causes which were put forward could not be ruled out: 1) Icing of the Pitot system; 2) Failure of the vertical gyro; 3) An unprogrammed and unnoticed extension of the Pitch Trim Compensator."

Roscomacaw
11-22-2013, 11:19 AM
I got to drive one of those Grand Pullman Mercedes quite a bit in the mid-70s. It was TRULY an impressive machine. If I remember right, there was a special service tool kit that went with the car. It was more than just some metric wrenches and sockets - it had some very specialized tools that were unique to certain features of the 600. I can recall being enthused every time I got an opportunity to drive it.

stude dude
11-22-2013, 11:19 AM
There has been a steady string of documentaries, movies and archival footage showing on Australian TV leading up to the anniversary today. I did spot one 1963 Regal 4 door sedan in some grainy old footage of the aftermath in Dealy Plaza. And I do remember seeing Bobby Kennedy driving a Metallic Turquoise 1962 Lark wagon in some color footage. I wonder what happened to that car?

Chris.

Stu Chapman
11-22-2013, 11:27 AM
Status: Final
Date: Friday 29 November 1963
Time: 18:33
Type: Douglas DC-8-54F
Operator: Trans-Canada Air Lines - TCAL
Registration: CF-TJN
C/n / msn: 45654/179
First flight: 1963
Total airframe hrs: 2174
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3
Crew: Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Passengers: Fatalities: 111 / Occupants: 111
Total: Fatalities: 118 / Occupants: 118
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: Ste-Thérèse-de-Blainville, QC (Canada) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport: Montreal-Dorval International Airport, QC (YUL/CYUL), Canada
Destination airport: Toronto International Airport, ON (YYZ/CYYZ), Canada
Flightnumber: 831
Narrative:
TCAL Flight 831 from Montreal (YUL) to Toronto (YYZ) was cleared for Toronto at FL290 and was instructed to report climbing through 3000 and 7000 feet. The DC-8 started the takeoff roll on runway 06 at 18:28. Last radio contact with the fight was when the crew reported climbing through 3000 feet, acknowledging a clearance for a left turn to St. Eustache. The aircraft then deviated from its normal flight path about 55deg to the right and began a quick descent. At 18:33, 16.9mls from the airport, the DC-8 struck the ground at a speed of 470-485 knots descending in an angle of about 55deg (+/- 7deg). It was found that the pitch trim compensator actuator was in the extended position and the horizontal stabilizer at setting of 1.9deg nose down on the right hand side and between 1.6deg and 1.7deg nose down on the left hand side.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The probable cause of this accident could not be determined with certainty. Certain possible causes which were put forward could not be ruled out: 1) Icing of the Pitot system; 2) Failure of the vertical gyro; 3) An unprogrammed and unnoticed extension of the Pitch Trim Compensator."

Thank you for this detail John. I had some of this in my files but not this much detail. Four more of my acquaintances perished on this flight also. Clearly, I'm happy we decided to pass on the Montreal end of the Grand Mercedes project.

Stu Chapman

JBOYLE
11-22-2013, 11:44 AM
I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories when it comes to plane crashes. There is a wacko website that believes anytime a politician is killed in a plane crash, it was an assignation. Say you DID want to kill a couple of guys...staging a car wreck would be easier, cheaper and much less likely to be detected than a massive...and well investigated...plane crash.
Also remember that 50 years ago, jet airliners crashed all the time...even "new" 707s and DC-8s. Major airlines suffered about 1 crash a month....
Between Dec 1960 and Feb 1964, 8 DC-8s were lost in fatal crashes. The 707 had a broadly similar record with 8 fatal crashes between Jan of 1961 and Dec 1963 (along with two non-fatal crashes).


Back to cars...the Mercedes Club magazine recently had a great story on the 600 series...the preferred car of dictators and the Beatles. A rather eclectic group of owners.

8E45E
11-22-2013, 02:06 PM
Back to cars...the Mercedes Club magazine recently had a great story on the 600 series...the preferred car of dictators and the Beatles. A rather eclectic group of owners.

A number of car magazines did write-ups on both the 600 and the Pagoda-roof SL series as each celebrated their 50th anniversary this year. One of them did have some interesting stats on the 600, including the amount sold in each country for their entire production run.

Craig

57pack
11-22-2013, 02:08 PM
There has been a steady string of documentaries, movies and archival footage showing on Australian TV leading up to the anniversary today. I did spot one 1963 Regal 4 door sedan in some grainy old footage of the aftermath in Dealy Plaza. And I do remember seeing Bobby Kennedy driving a Metallic Turquoise 1962 Lark wagon in some color footage. I wonder what happened to that car?

Chris.. I remember a Studebaker Wagonaire at the Kennedy compound in Hyanisport Mass early in 1963. Wonder what became of that Studebaker?

8E45E
11-22-2013, 02:21 PM
It seems to me the Canadian list was about $30,000.

Thanks, Stu

I did expect the price to be higher in Canada. One magazine did state a total of 37 Mercedes Benz 600's were sold in Canada. (1972 was the last year they were officially available in Canada, though production ended in Germany in 1981).

Craig

t walgamuth
11-22-2013, 04:22 PM
Contemporary road tests of the 600 commented on its excellent handling....equal to a good handling sedan standard size.

Skip Lackie
11-22-2013, 04:33 PM
There has been a steady string of documentaries, movies and archival footage showing on Australian TV leading up to the anniversary today. I did spot one 1963 Regal 4 door sedan in some grainy old footage of the aftermath in Dealy Plaza. And I do remember seeing Bobby Kennedy driving a Metallic Turquoise 1962 Lark wagon in some color footage. I wonder what happened to that car?

Chris.
The scene showing RFK driving a metallic turquoise 62 Lark wagon was from a made-for-TV movie about the Kennedys. (Can't remember the title.) It is an actor driving the car, not Bobby. The Kennedys all had big families and favored big American station wagons, usually Chryslers or Buicks. I don't believe there is any evidence that they ever drove Studebakers. But when the movie was made back in the 1980s, the movie company was unable to find anyone who would loan them an appropriate station wagon for several scenes that had to be shot in the Georgetown neighborhood of DC, which is where the Kennedys lived. One of our Potomac Chapter members had an ex-US Park Service 62 Lark wagon and was willing to loan it, so that's what you see Bobby's actor driving. The actor had never seen a clutch before and destroyed it trying to get the car to drive smoothly away from RFK's old house on R Street. Their camera rig also damaged the paint on the hood. The movie company ended up having to pay to have the car repainted and a new clutch installed. Our club member still has the car.

BobPalma
11-22-2013, 04:40 PM
The scene showing RFK driving a metallic turquoise 62 Lark wagon was from a made-for-TV movie about the Kennedys. (Can't remember the title.) It is an actor driving the car, not Bobby. The Kennedys all had big families and favored big American station wagons, usually Chryslers or Buicks. I don't believe there is any evidence that they ever drove Studebakers. But when the movie was made back in the 1980s, the movie company was unable to find anyone who would loan them an appropriate station wagon for several scenes that had to be shot in the Georgetown neighborhood of DC, which is where the Kennedys lived. One of our Potomac Chapter members had an ex-US Park Service 62 Lark wagon and was willing to loan it, so that's what you see Bobby's actor driving. The actor had never seen a clutch before and destroyed it trying to get the car to drive smoothly away from RFK's old house on R Street. Their camera rig also damaged the paint on the hood. The movie company ended up having to pay to have the car repainted and a new clutch installed. Our club member still has the car.

Ah-Ha! Now we know why he was called an ACTOR, Skip! :lol:

Interesting post; thanks. :) BP

HAWK64
11-22-2013, 08:30 PM
[QUOTE=stude dude;799302]There has been a steady string of documentaries, movies and archival footage showing on Australian TV leading up to the anniversary today. I did spot one 1963 Regal 4 door sedan in some grainy old footage of the aftermath in Dealy Plaza. And I do remember seeing Bobby Kennedy driving a Metallic Turquoise 1962 Lark wagon in some color footage. I wonder what happened to that car?


Of the many documentaries both original & remakes, one titled " Killing Kennedy " showed the actor playing Lee Oswald alighting from a yellow '62 Lark Taxi that appeared to be in good shape or restored before he headed into the theatre where he was arrested. I have also noted a '62 Lark sedan parked outside the Parkland Hospital in original footage.

BobPalma
11-23-2013, 08:02 AM
Here's a related link I posted in Stove-Huggers because it has nothing Studebaker in it:

http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/showthread.php?76910-Automotive-News-clip-RE-Kennedy-Assassination-Lincoln

:D BP