Washington state

Gertie's first car to inaugurate new span

TACOMA - The new Tacoma Narrows bridge's opening ceremony w ill feature the first car to drive across Galloping Gertie on July 1, 1940.

The historic V-8 1923 Lincoln Touring Car, now owned by the Titus-Will family of car dealerships, will make the trip over the Narrows.

James Will, president of Titus-Will Enterprises in Tacoma, said state transportation officials have told him the vintage car will be the first to cross in July.

Tacoma's LeMay Museum is helping coordinate the details, Will said.

The festivities also will feature some of the museum's antique vehicles.

Ex-Olympia dealership

The rare, blue and black Lincoln was the favorite company car of Leon Titus Sr., Will said. The dealership was in Olympia at the time.

State archives show it carried Gov. Clarence Martin over Gertie during its opening ceremony.

On other occasions, it transported such luminaries as Queen Elizabeth, Franklin Roosevelt and legendary Hollywood actress Lana Turner.

The dealership reportedly stored the famous convertible at its office at Sixth Avenue and Broadway in Tacoma, where it sat unused for almost six decades.

In 1996, the company hired a pair of vintage car enthusiasts to restore the Lincoln. It took three years.

Will said the company has used the car in a few parades and events since then, including the funeral procession for LeMay Enterprises founder Harold LeMay.

Will said he's happy the Lincoln will be part of another historic event this summer.

"It's part of our heritage," he said.