The custom-built Lincoln Continental limousine used by former Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel but scorned by Acting Gov. Blair Lee III as a gas guzzler has been sold.
A Towson used car dealer and a Baltimore antique auto collector out bid a least half a dozen would-be owners to purchase the black 1973 limousine at an auction last week for $7,000. The car, which was owned by the state of Maryland, had originally been valued at about $22,000.
The car, which has about 23,000 miles on its odometer, seats nine people comfortably and comes equipped with a connection for a mobile telephone, a shelf for a television set, a stereo AM-FM radio with four speakers, a reading lamp, a gun rack on the chauffeur's side, and a cabinet that can be used as a bar.
It was, pronounced Lee shortly after taking over as acting governor, "about the most useless vehicle I've ever seen."
It's half a block long," he said then. "I've never used it. And I don't know when I'm going to use it unless (it's for) some visiting shelf from Arabia."
Lee said, its estimated gas milage of somewhere between six and eight miles per gallon set a bad example for energy conservation.
That didn't deter its new owners. William W. O'Rourke, a Towson auto dealer, and car collector Thomas J. Kennedy Jr. of Baltimore say they would have been willing to go as high as $12,000 in their bidding to get the specially made car.
The car originally was leased for Mandel in 1973. After about $16,000 has been paid in leasing fees, state officials decided to purchase the unexpired portion of the lease. The decision to sell it was made by Lee when he took office after Mandel's conviction on federal mail fraud and racketering charges.
O'Rourke and Kennedy said they have already installed a tlevision get on the car's specially made shelf and have plans to stock the bar.
"We'll probably sell it eventually," said O'Rourke, "but in the meantime we'll just have some fun with it. It's an unusual car - it's a mile long and it's fantastic."