7 Presidential Cars to Celebrate the Commanders-in-Chief

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

The commander-in-chief needs a ride that makes a real statement. Something that exhibits power, and executive authority, yet also says to the average Joe six-pack that he or she is still “one of us.” This is one of the reasons you don’t see the President of the United States cruising Pennsylvania Avenue in a Ferrari or Rolls Royce — even though they, like many of us, might love to.

Over the years, POTUS has ridden in a variety of specially-outfitted limousines and sporty personal vehicles. Some of our nation’s leaders have been known car buffs, like Bill Clinton, while others decided to stick to more practical, everyday cars for their personal use. These days, it’d be very surprising to see Barack Obama driving himself around in a personal vehicle, given the amount of necessary security and the inherent risks driving down the average road entails.

Despite the fact that our current president doesn’t really get the opportunity to hit the open road very often, he still gets to ride around in a fairly awesome vehicle. In fact, many of our country’s presidents have either been ferried around in, or have personally owned their own sweet rides. With help from Carfax, we’re going to take a look at seven of the standouts.

From the beginning of the 20th century to present day, check out these seven awesome presidential cars.

1. Cadillac One — Barack Obama

Source: GM

This is the car that currently shuttles president Barack Obama around Washington, D.C. and anywhere else he finds himself on any given day. Because the car is currently in service, there is little detail regarding its inner workings or features — you know, for national security’s sake. The limousine is produced by Cadillac, though, and Carfax says it is derived from the old DeVille. According to Business Insider, “The Beast” has a price tag of more than $300,000, and is so heavily-armored that it can stop a rocket-propelled grenade.

From another Cheat Sheet post, however, we can add to what we know. The Beast is diesel-powered, has a self-containing oxygen system, and is considered the safest and most modern state car in the world. The only bad part? It’s due to be replaced in 2017.

2. 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible — Bill Clinton


Bill Clinton famously owned a 1967 Mustang Convertible, although it’s not the one pictured in the photo above. Clinton evidently became interested in Mustangs after one was purchased by his stepfather, and given to his brother to use while Bill himself was in college. Years later, as Governor of Arkansas, Clinton would purchase one for himself — an aqua blue convertible. He had to leave it behind when he went to the White House, however. The car itself is now in an automotive museum in Arkansas, on public display.

3. 1961 Amphibicar — Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson's Amphicar. Source: National Park Service
Source: National Park Service

As if seeing an Amphibicar isn’t strange enough, try and conjure up the image of a sitting American president hitting the open road/high seas in one. That’s exactly what Lyndon B. Johnson did with this car, among some other wacky vehicles that he owned, including a 1915 fire truck and a donkey wagon. As for the Amphibicar, less than 4,000 were produced in the 1960s in Germany, and now LBJ’s lives at his ranch in Texas, which has since come under control of the National Park Service.

4. 1961 Ford Thunderbird Convertible — John F. Kennedy

Source: Ford

It’s hard to top the level of coolness that JFK was able to exert while cruising in his 1961 Thunderbird Convertible, an ad for which can be seen above. On the day of his inauguration, Kennedy actually rode in his cherished car to the ceremony, which Carfax says is probably the last time he was ever in it, unfortunately. The Thunderbird, in 1961, had just gone into its third generation, and boasted a 6.4-liter V8 engine. That’s a pretty big engine — one that we probably wouldn’t see in a similar car today. At the time, however, it made a perfect fit for a presidential chariot like the Thunderbird.

5. 1952 U.S. Army Jeep — Ronald Reagan

Source: Reagan Presidential Library

For a steadfast, right-wing conservative like Ronald Reagan, a U.S. Army Jeep is probably the ideal vehicle. The Jeep that Reagan owned was a surplus model from the military, and given to the president as a gift from his wife, Nancy. Though Reagan owned many vehicles, the Army Jeep was reported to be his most-prized. Forbes says that he mainly used it to cruise around his ranch in California, mostly when he wasn’t on horseback.

6. 1950 Oldsmobile 98 — Richard Nixon

Source: General Motors

For a man who was definitely “not a crook,” there was only one way to hit the pavement in the 1960s: a classic Oldsmobile. Richard Nixon, who had a troubled presidency as we are all well-aware of, used to drive a 1950 Oldsmobile 98 while fighting for his nomination as vice president. The car reportedly helped him maintain an “everyman” image, or so Carfax says, that helped average Americans identify with their leader.

7. 1909 Baker Electric — William Taft

General Photographic Agency/Getty Images
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

For our final entry, we’re turning the clock way, way back. More than a century ago, president William Taft was one of the first presidents to get the chance to take the wheel. Taft’s car of choice? A 1909 Baker Electric, one of the very first electric vehicles. The specific car that was owned by Taft himself is now in an auto museum in California, and in their day, the cars were quite popular. While a future president may boast about owning one of the first or second-generation Tesla models, Taft will have them beat on the electric vehicle front by a solid 100 years or so.

Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.