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Babe Ruth’s sweet 1948 Lincoln Continental purchased by baseball fan in Texas

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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Lonnie Shelton with Babe Ruth's 1948 Lincoln Continental (Della Moyer photo)

The list of Babe Ruth memorabilia runs anywhere from a game-worn jersey that just sold for $4.4 million to an index card signed by both the legendary Yankee and a child searching for scratch paper.

Give us the choice between owning cool artifacts from The Sultan of Swat, though, and we're really coveting the item that a Texas man just landed through a private sale.

It's the "Yankee" blue 1948 Lincoln Continental two-door hardtop coupe that was believed to be the last car Ruth ever drove before his death in August of that year.

Lonnie Shelton, a big Ruth and baseball fan from Pampa, Texas, recently acquired the car for an undisclosed price and it's a real beaut. The 1948 Lincoln Continental was the last V12-engined car to ever be made by a major U.S. automaker. According to ConceptCarzz.com, Lincoln only manufactured 847 Continental coupes in 1948 and it came with a $4,662 price tag, around $45,000 in today's dollars when adjusted for inflation.

From the Amarillo Globe-News:

Ford Motor Co. presented Ruth a new Lincoln Continental in 1948 as a measure of its appreciation for his tireless devotion to Little Leaguers and baseball.

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Babe Ruth driving a different car in 1946. (AP)

Before he died of cancer, Ruth spent many of his final days traveling across the country in his Lincoln, giving speeches and hitting lessons to little leaguers.

"The car has 81,000 miles on it," Shelton said. "That's not so many miles now, but back then that was a lot of miles for a car. So The Babe did some traveling. And then after he passed away the car was driven all over to county fairs and all kinds of places."

As for the condition of the car — which has spent much of its life in auto museums — you can see it can't be in much better shape in this great gallery of photos from the Globe-News:

The car is in pristine shape with original interior and car color — "I call it Yankee blue," Shelton said. The speedometer reaches 110 miles per hour. The radio works and takes about 15 minutes to warm up glass tubes used in that era. The doors and windows work by hydraulics. The steering wheel is huge by today's standards. The license plates are black and feature the orange words: THE BABE.

The reason why this item is so cool is that you get the mystique of Babe combined with owning one of the true American classic cars. It's like a two-for-one deal.

A quick scan of the Internet shows one 1948 Continental listed for $60,000 so figure that Shelton had to pony up a lot more for a car that was owned by the greatest baseball player to ever live. The price has to be well worth it for the 61-year-old retiree, who plans to show it off at shows and possibly even minor-league baseball games. He plans to drive it only on special occasions and transports it in a special see-through trailer.

Like the people peering in for a peek, we're green with envy.

Thanks to Della Moyer Photography for pictures of Lonnie's new car.

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(Della Moyer photo)

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