It has been called, Limo One, and to President Obama, “The Beast”, so what is it exactly that we are talking about here you ask? Well, The Presidential State Car of course, the limousine version of Air Force One. Presidents have had a government owned vehicle since Theodore Roosevelt before 1909 where he rode in a white Stanley Steamer. Before that presidents rode around in horse drawn carriages, except for William McKinley, who was the first president to ride in an automobile, but not a government owned one.
It was not until 1919 that a president rode in a Cadillac Limo; President Woodrow Wilson rode in a Series 53 in 1916 through the streets of Boston during a World War I victory parade. Then in 1921 the 29th President of the United States was the first U.S. President to travel to the Inauguration in a Packard Twin-Six. That was President Warren Harding, who also was the first Commander in Chief who knew how to drive. The Grand 1928 Cadillac Series 341 town car was used by President Calvin Coolidge; it featured a 90 horsepower V-8 with a smooth dual plane crankshaft, 3-speed manual transmission and tilting beam headlamps.
Then there were the two Cadillac convertibles in 1938, dubbed, “Queen Mary” and “Queen Elizabeth”, named after the great ocean liners of the time. At 21.5 feet long and weighing in at 7,660 pounds these vehicles were equipped with a full ammunition arsenal, two way radios, and heavy duty generators. Serving for a total of 23 years, the two “Queens” assisted Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In 1950 two custom built 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan limousines were delivered to the White House for President Truman. One was fitted with a glass roof and dubbed the “Bubble Top” at the suggestion of President Eisenhower. Later the “Bubble Top” was used by John F. Kennedy and once by Lyndon B. Johnson, it was retired in 1965 and is now on permanent display at the Henry Ford Museum.
President John F. Kennedy\’s Limousine was a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible which also had the Plexiglas bubble top. This car, which JFK was assassinated in, is on display at the Henry Ford Museum. President Lyndon B. Johnson used three 1965 Lincoln Continental Executive Limousines: two were for presidential use and one for Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara. A 1968 stretch Lincoln was used in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, Johnson\’s hometown. This vehicle is on display at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas.
In 1983 President Reagan received the delivery of a Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine, first used in February 1983 for President Ronald Reagan\’s birthday parade in Dixon, Illinois. This was the last GM car equipped with the Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 3-speed automatic transmission. It has since taken up residence at the Ronald Regan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California.
A Presidential Series Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham was delivered to the Clinton Administration in 1993, in order to minimize external threats it had no sunroof or running. It is now located at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. As of 2009, the 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood at the Clinton Presidential Center is the final presidential vehicle to be placed on public display.
President George W. Bush had the 2001 Cadillac DeVille Limousine and was replaced in 2005 by a Cadillac DTS. The DTS Limousine was a hand-crafted, custom built, armored version of the stretch Cadillac DTS built on a GM four-wheel drive platform. It was first used on January 20, 2005 during the second inauguration parade of George W. Bush and now serves as an alternative presidential limousine that is used often.
And last but definitely not least, the 2009 GM Cadillac Limousine, “The Beast”, used by current President Barack Obama. It has been reported that this Limo has military grade armor doors that weigh as much as a cabin door of a Boeing 757, Kevlar reinforced tires that are puncture and shred-resistant. Steel wheels that can drive without the tire attached, night vision cameras, tear-gas cannons, an independent oxygen supply and advanced fire-fighting system. President Obama first used the limousine when he traveled along Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington after his first inauguration.
With Presidents going from horse drawn carriages to “The Beast” it really makes me wonder, what could they make next to impress us after something like that?