More presidential limousine information.
Q: Hi Greg. I remember a while back you wrote a column about the President’s limousines, with a photo of the one used by our President today. I can’t locate that paper and was wondering if you would be in favor of running a similar column? I remember it was very informative. Thanks, Molly L., Illinois.
A: Molly, I would be glad to. When I visited the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mi., back in 2009, I wrote of the presidential limos as it was a fascinating experience. Here we go!
The first Presidential limo was a 1939 Lincoln V12 convertible used by Franklin Roosevelt. The second was a 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan, utilized by Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, followed by Kennedy’s Continental. Following the assignation of John F. Kennedy in 1963, convertibles were no longer used as Lyndon Johnson’s same Continental came with a bullet proof bubble top.
Next was Richard Nixon’s ’69 Lincoln followed by a ’72 Lincoln that served four presidents in Nixon, Ford, Carter and Regan. President George H. W. Bush received a Lincoln, and then George W. Bush and Bill Clinton received Cadillacs.
The latest Presidential Limo is dubbed “Cadillac One,” and is actually a 2009 GMC full chassis with a Cadillac body. Power comes from a GMC Twin Turbo diesel V8 that delivers just 7.5 miles per gallon.
The estimated cost of a new Presidential Limo is now close to $450,000. (See attached drawing for more info).
Presidential Limos are amazing works of protection and innovation. The full size Lincoln that Regan used and Obama’s GMC/Cadillac weigh 13,000 pounds with passengers, much of it thanks to full military body armor, both underneath and above.
The doors weigh as much as a Boeing 757 cabin door and all cars are sealed against biological attack. Shotguns are housed underneath the seats and oxygen is available if there is a gas attack while the doors are open.
In the trunk, several quarts of the President’s blood are stored and all limos (there are usually two) can fire tear gas from the front along with other ballistic capabilities. (The Secret Service won’t tell us more).
The windows are so thick you can put a high powered rifle right up against them, pull the trigger and the bullet will not go through. Additionally, if you remember when President Obama went to London, his “Cadillac One” got hung up in the center of a small “hump” exiting Buckingham Palace, this because of the car’s six-ton mass.
The Henry Ford Museum has on display the original ’39 Lincoln, the ‘61 Continental sans bubble top and the ‘72 Lincoln. Of note concerning the Regan Lincoln, it turns out that his attempted assassin, John Hinckley Jr., was not a great shot. When Hinckley Jr. fired, the bullet that entered the President’s body it was his third shot, which first sideswiped the Lincoln’s bullet proof metal and then entered the president’s armpit as he was shoved into the Lincoln.
The bullet found its way through a three inch opening between the Lincoln’s “suicide” style open rear door, and is explained in detail at How The Presidential Limo Helped Save Ronald Reagan’s Life.
If you are in Detroit, make it a point to visit The Henry Ford Museum, as it houses not only the aforementioned Presidential cars and many other manufacturer vehicles, but also features thousands of non-auto related nostalgic items including everything from the first ever Oscar Mayer Weinermobile to era dated collectibles.
Then, a trip to Greenfield Village located adjacent to the museum is a must. Ford literally purchased many homes of people that impacted his life, including the birthplace of Thomas Edison (his best friend) to a favorite high school teacher. The plentiful houses were transplanted to Greenfield Village, reconstructed and are in 100-percent working order. There are restaurants on site along with rides in original Model T’s or horse drawn carriages.
Plan a full day to enjoy it all.
Thanks for your letter Molly and the kind words.
Popular Mechanics: The Secret Seven: The Top Presidential Limousines of All Time
Discovery TV Presidential Limousine:
(Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and BestRide.com. He welcomes reader questions on collector cars, auto nostalgia and old-time racing at 116 Main St., Towanda, Pa. 18848, or email at email@example.com)