Americans love their automobiles, including American presidents. From William Howard Taft to Barack Obama, each U.S. president has had a special place in his heart for his presidential car. Here’s some fodder for your next presidential car trivia contest, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.
William Howard Taft (1909-1913)
The first U.S. president to make the shift from presidential horse and buggy to presidential car, President Taft used a luxurious Baker Electric car. For well-to-do consumers of the time, the Baker was popular because it didn’t require a hand crank to start. Being an electronic vehicle, it was largely maintenance-free.
Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
Patrons of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Virginia can feast their eyes on the first presidential limousine. President Wilson returned home from negotiating the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and his luxurious Pierce-Arrow Limousine was waiting for him.
Wilson was huge on punctuality when it came to the availability of his rides, notes the Los Angeles Times. He had a standing order that all White House vehicles be ready for him within three minutes at all times.
Warren Harding (1921-1923)
The first U.S. president who knew how to drive a car before entering office, President Harding was also the first U.S. president to ride to his inauguration in a car. In Harding’s case, that was a Packard Twin Six, supplied by the Republication National Committee.
Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
Bought while he was still vice president, Calvin Coolidge’s aluminum-bodied 1923 Lincoln Town Car sedan went heavy on the gasoline consumption, compared to modern, eco-friendly vehicles. “Silent Cal’s” car got about eight miles to the gallon.
Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
President Hoover’s 1932 Cadillac 452-B V-16 Imperial Limousine was purchased late in his term, and it left the White House with him. The Fleetwood-bodied car sold for $87,750 in 2007 by Bonhams & Butterfields at an auction in Carmel, Calif.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
President Franklin Roosevelt had a 1939 Packard 12 in the White House garage. Its V12 engine provided a superb balance of power and smooth performance, particularly for its day. The car, which was retrofitted with bullet-proof armor and glass, became the first armored car used by a U.S. president. After Roosevelt’s death, the armored Packard was used for a time by President Truman, who made some adaptations.
Roosevelt’s Packard is currently on display at the Toyota Automobile Museum in Japan.
Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)
After he’d had his fill of tricking out Roosevelt’s 1939 Packard 12 – and following the passenger car production ban of World War II – President Truman got his hands on a 1945 Ford Super DeLuxe Tudor Sedan; it was the first civilian vehicle produced after the cessation. The moonbeam gray sedan was presented to Truman on August 29, 1945.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
The U.S. government had a stated official policy of not accepting corporate gifts during the post-war era, but that didn’t stop President Eisenhower from accepting two Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaetons, the first in 1952, the next in 1956. Labeled “The Detroit Car” and housed there to avoid any sense of impropriety, the cars were used to chauffeur visiting dignitaries.
John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
President Kennedy’s 1961 Ford Thunderbird Convertible sported sleek “Bullet Bird” styling. It was the Indianapolis 500 pace car in the year of its manufacture. During the presidential inauguration, 50 of the vehicles were driven in the parade. On a related note, Ford executive Robert McNamara became Kennedy’s secretary of defense.
Obama’s limo and other presidential car trivia
New York Daily News: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2008-12-09/news/17913217_1_cars-armored-cadillac-dts
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