Thursday, March 27, 2014

Presidential State Cars From Past to Present

William Howard Taft's
Presidential  Limousine
Presidential state cars have evolved extensively since 1899.

In November of 1899, William McKinley was the first president to ride in an automobile.  His successor, Teddy Roosevelt, was the first to commission a government owned presidential automobile-- a white, convertible Stanley Steamer.  Roosevelt's successor, William Howard Taft, also opted for a white, convertible Stanley Steamer, and converted the White House stables into a garage.  Woodrow Wilson opted for a Pierce-Arrow Limousine.  And his successor, Warren Harding, was the first president to ride to and from his inauguration in an automobile--a
Woodrow Wilson's
Presidential Limousine
Packard Twin Six.  Franklin D. Roosevelt's choice for a presidential automobile was 
1939 Lincoln V12 nick named the "Sunshine Special", and was the first car specifically built for presidential use.

The day after Pear Harbor, on December 8, 1941, the "Sunshine Special" temporarily replaced by Al Capone's 1928 Cadillac 341A Town Sedan while the "Sunshine Special" was modified to provide more protection for the President.  Al Capone's Cadillac was heavily armored and had been confiscated by the Treasury Department following Capone's arrest.  The modified Sunshine Special had armor plating for doors, bullet-proof tires, inch thick windows, and storage compartments for machine guns.
FDR's "Sunshine Special"

Since the late 1930s, the Federal government has specifically commissioned vehicles for presidential use, specifying special features for convenience, communications, and defense.

Today, President Obama's 7.5 ton limousine, which is in reality more of a tank, has been named "The Beast" by secret service agents.  From the outside, the vehicle is built to look like a 2008 Cadillac DTS.  But on the inside, the vehicle is a hybrid of Cadillac components combined with the guts of a Chevrolet Kodiak commercial truck.  The vehicle's armor includes 8 inch plates and 5 inch thick multi-layered
Obama's "Beast"
glass windows, which combine to make the vehicle's doors as heavy as those of a 757 jet.  The vehicle is sealed against biochemical attacks and can stop an IED explosion.  Although details of the presidential limousine are classified for security reasons, reports claim that the vehicle has a night vision system, communication gear, and a blood bank.  The vehicle is only driven by specially trained secret service agents.

And, a new presidential limousine has reportedly been commissioned, which promises to be even sturdier that "The Beast".    

Want to learn more about presidential state cars?  Click here for a link to a blog of the "Top Ten" all time presidential state cars.

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 10 Years Running

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