All citizens of this great nation have the right to drive. However, with Secret Service breathing down their necks, our commanders in chief consider driving a luxury. In honor of Presidents’ Day, and with party preferences aside, here’s a list of the coolest presidential cars in U.S. history.
Timeline of the 8 coolest presidential cars
1. William Howard Taft (1909–1913): Baker Electric
The Taft administration was the first to officially substitute cars for carriages at the White House. Considered to be the very first electric car, the 1912 Baker Electric was battery-powered and didn’t require a hand crank (which was uncommon at the time). Way to be tech-savvy, Taft!
The electric car’s still relevant today. About 100 years later, when he was sworn into office, President Barack Obama was riding around in a Ford Escape Hybrid. And although it’s since been sold, he’s mentioned future plans to buy a plug-in Chevrolet Volt.
Related: Here are 5 reasons to go hybrid.
2. Woodrow Wilson (1913–1921): Pierce Arrow limousine
The 1919 Pierce Arrow limo escorted Wilson around on official West Wing business until he left office. Wilson was so fond of it that his friends purchased it for him as a gift at the end of his term. Today, the limo’s engine has been restored to working condition and lives out its legacy at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Museum in Staunton, Virginia.
3. Harry S. Truman (1945–1953): Ford Super Deluxe Tudor
Truman’s 1946 Ford Super Deluxe Tudor was the first car Ford manufactured post–World War II. During the war, the manufacturing of new cars essentially stopped. Instead, major car companies like Chrysler and General Motors focused on wartime production, assembling parts for tanks, airplanes, and guns. Only 139 cars were manufactured during the entire war. So getting that first car postwar, like being named president, was kind of a big deal.
4. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953–1961): electric Rauch and Lang
One of the most notable achievements of Eisenhower’s presidency was signing the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which created 41,000 miles of roadway to connect the nation. So you can thank Eisenhower for that spring break road trip to Florida.
Being so focused on automotive efforts, it’s no surprise that Eisenhower had several cars. But the coolest was an electric 1914 Rauch and Lang. He drove this model around while campaigning in 1952.
5. John F. Kennedy (1961–1963): Ford Thunderbird convertible
Kennedy’s 1961 Ford Thunderbird combined all things cool. This model, known as a “bullet bird” because of its pointed design, debuted in 1961. So Kennedy had the latest and greatest. Fifty of these cars were showcased during his inaugural parade. And as an additional honor that year, this model served as the pace car at the fiftieth anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.
6. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963–1969): Amphicar
As another vehicle enthusiast, Johnson enjoyed a variety of car models including a 1915 fire truck and a 1910 Model T that was a gift from Henry Ford. The most covetable car was a blue lagoon-colored and white-upholstered Amphicar. German-made and sold from 1962 to 1967, the Amphicar is the only mass-produced vehicle that operates on land and water. When hosting guests at his ranch in Stonewall, Texas, Johnson used to trick passengers that the brakes had given out and the car was sliding into the lake.
7. Ronald Reagan (1981–1989): Jeeps
Former on-screen cowboy Ronald Reagan escaped the pressures of Washington by driving Jeeps at his ranch out West. The first Jeep, a gift from his wife Nancy, was a blue 1983 CJ-8 Scrambler. Kept in very pretty condition, this one was strictly used to escort guests around the property. The second one, a red 1962 CJ-6, did more heavy lifting on the ranch and endured significant wear and tear.
Do these Jeeps represent a diverse but united America, from the polished business professional (CJ-8) to the rugged, hardworking laborer (CJ-6)? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s a theory. (Go with it … it’s Presidents’ Day.)
8. William J. Clinton (1993–2001): Ford Mustang convertible
Before taking that Oval Office oath, Clinton said the hardest thing to leave behind was his 1967 Mustang convertible. In 1994, he became the only recent president to take the wheel (with Secret Service riding shotgun) when he was allowed to drive it a few hundred yards during an anniversary celebration for Ford Mustang. Today, the car lives on at the Museum of Automobiles in Morrilton, Arkansas.
Celebrate Presidents’ Day
How should you celebrate today? See who can name the most presidents, watch a presidentially themed movie, or (just because the president can’t) hop in the car and take a ride. If you do take your car out for a spin, make sure you’re covered with a free quote from Esurance.
Which presidentially cool cars are missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below.