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Cars of the presidents


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For reasons unknown I was thinking about Bill Clinton's fond musings for his Ford Mustang. This in turn led to thinking about George Bush and his ranch truck.

This train of thought led to wondering what other presidents drove. I know Teddy Roosevelt drove a White "steamer" and Wilson liked a Pierce-Arrow but what about Truman, Nixon or harding?

So I decided to begin posting stories about these cars and my research on them on my blog, route66chronicles.blogspot.com. Any information on these cars or about them?

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They are having a big celebration this year at the LBJ ranch and have invited Amphicars to be part of it. There are many funny stories associated with LBJ and his Amphi. One of his favorite tricks was to pretend that he lost his brakes and take the car right into the water, with foreign dignitaries on board.

Here is a pic of LBJ and Jimmy driving one. Notice the secret service in the helicopters.



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Woodrow Wilson's 1919 Pierce Arrow is kept in his home in Staunton, Virginia.

Here is a link:


George HW Bush's first car was a 47 or 48 Studebaker Champion.

Truman liked Chrysler products and drove a Dodge when he was senator. There is a story of him buying a Chrysler after he left the White House. The dealer tried to sell him an Imperial but he said it too "High falutin" for him.




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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: West Peterson</div><div class="ubbcode-body">FDR also had a 1933 DeSoto convertible sedan (technically, convertible victoria). </div></div>

In the Conrad Black biography of FDR I recall seeing a photo and reading of FDR in a special hand control mid '30's Ford convertible coupe.

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Michael Beschloss writes history and about presidents:

"And the thing about Johnson was that any new gadget, anything that was the latest in technology, he always had to have, whether it was a car, an electric toothbrush."Once, for instance, in about 1967, he'd get a car every year, I think for a dollar, from the Ford Motor Company. They'd send him their latest Lincoln Continental, which he'd drive around the ranch at very high speed. And he got this new car in 1967 and the dashboard was padded, and the controls were really hard for him to work-- he wasn't used to them. He said, "Well, who is the S.O.B. that redesigned this car?"

"And a brave aide told him, "These were in accordance with the Transportation Act you put through Congress last year." The guy kept his job, I'm happy to report."

Johnson supposedly owed 26 Lincoln's at one time.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 57plymouth</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Wow, Carter and Johnson both had Amphicars. That is not a ringing endorsement for Amphicars. </div></div>

LBJ owned an Amphicar, but President Carter was only riding in an Amphi of a club member.

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Just ran across this topic and have a couple of additional comments...

Here's a photo of then senator LBJ and Lady Bird crossing the Pedernales river in their '34 Ford Phaeton hunting car. The picture was taken in 1959. The Ford apparently survives at the Johnson Ranch and is mentioned in the National Park Service page Dave Moon provided the link to above. According to the text on the NPS page, the Ford was equipped with, "a Lincoln-Zephyr engine" and had other modifications.

Photo credit: LBJ Library Photo by Frank Muto.

Harry Truman bought a pair of 1941 Chryslers new while he was a Senator...a Royal Club Coupe and Windsor Sedan. Restored examples of both cars can be seen at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, Independence, MO. Truman bought the original pair new on Nov. 9, 1940...there is an image of the original sales contract on the Truman Library website. See a photo of the two cars at:



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  • 1 month later...

I wanted to post this a few weeks ago when I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on the same subject. Unfortunately that article is not available online. This article came out from the Associated Press in December. I thought it might be of interest to some:

What Do Their Cars Tell Us about Presidential Candidates?

The linked article lists the first and current cars of most of the current crop of Presidential candidates. It is interesting to compare how they started out and what they each value given their present status. The Philadelphia article I read updated it a bit, including Ron Paul's cars (a Buick, a Ford truck, a used Lincoln Town Car, and a 1979 Chevette--no further description is given) and the fact that Barack Obama recently bought a Hybrid Ford Escape.

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I remember seeing a side show at the Rhinebeck Fair back in the mid to late 70's of Hitler's Mercedes. I think I paid 50 cents to see it. It was in a box trailer and fenced off but the windows were thick and some had holes in them. The doors were armour plated. It was pretty beat up as I remember.

I always wondered if the car was really his and why a piece of WW2 history like that would be in the hands of carnies?


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Ok, just found an old Floyd Clymer book called 'those wonderful old automobiles' and it has a page dedicated to cars of the presidents here is what I found:

Mckinley: Was driven in a 1901 Electric Ambulance after his fateful day in buffalo New York

Roosevelt: Shows him riding in a brass era car, does'nt say which

Taft: The first President to have a fleet of cars at his disposal

Wilson: 1914 Cadillac

Calvin Coolidge: Bought one of the whitehouse cars when leaving office

Herbert Hoover: 'took the presidency in 1928 when the nation had over 20 million cars on the road'

Franklin Roosevelt: Specially equipped Plymouth

Harry Truman: Had a run of Chryslers, and dodges, but, early on he had a 1913 Stafford, and there is a letter printed in the book from Harry Truman to Floyd Clymer

Eisenhower: Pictured in a 1914 Rauch and Lang Electric owned by his mother in law.

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FDR's 1936 Ford has been on display at Hyde Park for many years. After his death, Eleanor used the car for a time. In one of their sons' books, he says that his mother was a terrible driver and that she had a bad accident in the Ford around 1952. The car was then repaired and put on display.

Eleanor later owned a 1958 Studebaker Scotsman.

On the Republican side, Ronald Reagan owned a LaSalle circa 1938. I recall also seeing a photo of him chopping wood shirtless in the late forties next to what appears to be a 1947 Cadillac coupe. As governor of California, he used a Chrysler Imperial limousine of about 1966 vintage. I think this car still exists.

In one of his speeches, Richard Nixon recalled having owned a 1952 Oldsmobile. When he left office in 1974, I recall seing him in a 1968 Cadillac. Since he was elected 1n 1968, I would guess that that was his last car before he was president.

Finally, Bill Clinton's stepfather was a Buick dealer. Somewhere, I have seen a home movie of a teenage Clinton dressed up for a prom with a 1959 Electra 225 in the background.

Alan Harris

1940 LaSalle

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