United States Presidents And Their CarsPosted on 2018-02-18
United States Presidents And Their Cars
As we celebrate President’s Day (and since we love cars) it’s interesting to look back on some of the presidential vehicles over the last 100+ years. Like the rest of Americans, presidents have had a true love affair with cars since they were first introduced. William McKinley was the first president to ever ride in a car while Teddy Roosevelt was the first to make public appearances in one during a presidential road-trip.
As the first president to ride in a car, McKinley chose one of the more popular cars of the era, a Stanley Steamer, similar to the one pictured above. The first White House fleet of cars came while William Howard Taft was in office and a Stanley Steamer was part of that fleet. It was during Taft's presidency the White House stables were officially converted into a garage.
It wasn’t until 1939 that the first presidential armored car was used, a Packard Twelve. Franklin D. Roosevelt was driven around in this car that featured bulletproof glass. It was one of the last V12 production cars in America. We have two classic Packards sitting in our inventory now. The Packard was not FDR's official presidential limo though, that distinction belonged to a '39 Lincoln K-Series that was retrofitted with armor after the start of WWII.
By 1961 the White House had upgraded the presidential car to a modified and stretched Lincoln Continental which is the car John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon also used Lincoln Continentals. If you like classic Lincolns, we have three of them from the 1950’s and 60’s in our inventory, including a '62 Continental.
Back at his Texas ranch, LBJ had a 1961 Amphicar he would drive around his property as seen in the photo above. It’s been said that while driving guests around his ranch he would pretend to lose control of the car as it drove into a large pond, then laugh as the car drove/floated its way across the water. The actual car he drove is still on display at his ranch. Less than 4,000 Amphicars were produced, and we have one of them sitting in our showroom now!
Bill Clinton owned a 1967 Mustang convertible long before becoming president. But as you can image, the secret service won’t allow presidents to drive themselves in public. They made a brief exception during a celebration honoring Ford Mustang’s 30th anniversary in 1994 and allowed Clinton to drive his pony car a whopping 250 feet. This the longest distance a sitting president has ever driven their own vehicle. If you want to drive your own classic Mustang (much farther than 250 feet) we have seven of them to choose from in our inventory.
These days the presidential limos are more like tanks than cars. Details of just how the Cadillacs have been modified are top secret, but the widows and body are bulletproof. It’s believed to be based on a truck chassis, runs on diesel, uses heavy duty truck tires and weighs as much as 15,000 pounds.
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