October 21st, 2008 by Steve Cypher

Since this is an election year, the car guys at Hagerty Insurance, a company that specializes in collector vehicles, have put together a list of their favorite vehicles from eight past presidents and the two current candidates.
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Foreign policy and the economy take a backseat

Here at LotPro.com, we try to avoid discussing politics around the office. But while we may not all agree on who is the best candidate, we certainly can agree on one thing – the automotive tastes of many of our past presidents were certainly eclectic. And since Hagerty Insurance has done such a great job of researching these vehicles, we would like to share this list with you:

Baker Electric

Jay Leno’s (and Bill Taft’s) Baker Electric

1. William Taft (1909-1913): Baker Electric — Taft was the first president to own and drive cars during his presidency. One of the most interesting cars he owned was, ironically enough, “green” — a Baker Electric. This electric vehicle was especially popular with women in the era, as it did not require any cranking and was virtually maintenance-free.

Packard 12

FDR’s Packard 12

2. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945): 1939 Packard 12 — In the 1920s and 30s, Packard produced some of the most beautiful and innovative cars of the era. Packard’s V-12 engine was especially smooth and provided exceptional performance in its time.

1946 Ford Tudor Sedan

1946 Ford Tudor Sedan

3. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953): 1945 Ford Super DeLuxe Tudor Sudan
All automakers shut down their production during World War II and did not return to making passenger cars until 1946. The very first car assembled after World War II was a white Super DeLuxe Tudor Sedan assembled on July 3, 1945, and it went to President Harry Truman.

Chrysler Imperial Detroit Car

Ike’s ‘Detroit Car’ Imperial

4. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961): 1956 Chrysler Imperial — The 1956
Chrysler was updated with the new 1956 “Forward Look” styling. This particular model was frequently used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and became known as “The Detroit Car.”

1961 Ford Thunderbird

1961 Ford T-Bird

5. John F. Kennedy (1960-1963): 1961 T-Bird Convertible — This was the first year for the much sleeker “Bullet Bird” styling. The Thunderbird was 1961’s Indianapolis 500 pace car and was featured prominently in U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade. (This was probably helped along by the appointment of Ford executive Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense.)

1950 Oldsmobile

1950 Oldsmobile 98

6. Richard Nixon (1969-1974): 1950 Oldsmobile — This particular car owned by Nixon is of historic impact because it was referred to during his infamous “Checkers” speech that was said to save his candidacy for vice-president, when his honesty and loyalty were in question.

Reagan's 1962 CJ-6

Ronald Reagan’s 1962 Jeep CJ-6

7. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989): 1962 Jeep CJ-6 — This was a gift to President Ronald Reagan from his wife Nancy and was considered highly collectible by the time he received it in the late 1970s.

1967 Mustang Convertible

Bill Clinton’s 1967 Mustang Convertible

8. Bill Clinton (1993-2001): 1967 Mustang Convertible — Clinton owned this Mustang as a collector car prior to and during his presidency. He has been quoted as saying that this car was the hardest thing for him to leave behind when he moved to the White House.

2006 Cadillac CTS

2006 Cadillac CTS

9. John McCain (2008 Candidate): First car: 1958 Corvette — This is considered a highly coveted collector car and was the first year for the dual front headlights, which gave the car a much more aggressive look than any earlier Corvette.

Current car: 2006 Cadillac CTS — The CTS is Cadillac’s entry-luxury sport sedan, designed to compete with the best European sport sedans. This is a mid-sized luxury car that gets respectable fuel mileage-up to 27 MPG.

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid

10. Barack Obama (2008 Candidate): First car: Ford Granada — This was reportedly Obama’s grandfather’s car and the car he learned to drive in. To quote Obama directly: “It may be the worst car that Detroit ever built … This thing was a tin can. (Detroit was) trying to compete with the Japanese. They wanted to keep the cars big, so they made them out of tin foil … You basically couldn’t go over 80 (miles per hour) without the thing getting out of control.”

Current car: Ford Escape Hybrid — Nearly 100 years after William Taft drove an electric vehicle, Obama traded in his Chrysler 300C for a more fuel- efficient. It makes sense that Obama owns a hybrid, as he is a big supporter of researching the best methods for alternative fuels for transportation.


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3 Comments

Karl Opheim

I know this is old news, perhaps corrected by now. Harry Truman may have been given a Ford Super Deluxe, but I don’t believe he ever purchased a Ford. Harry was a true Chrysler Fan. Your author should check with the curator of the Truman Presidential Library for details.

Mike Ferg

That is not Reagan’s Jeep pictured in this story. Reagan was given a 1962 Jeep CJ-6 from his wife, not this green standard model CJ which appears to be a mid 1950s model. The CJ-6 is an elongated version with lots of storage capacity in the back and side mounted bench seats, Ronald Reagan’s CJ-6 Jeep is one of the most famous Jeeps in history as he carted heads of state, dignitaries, and other famous people around his California ranch in it. It was repainted a dark red by the California National Guard as a gift, and today is highly oxidized and worn inside and out. Reagan was allowed to drive it on his 688 acre ranch, and he used it regularly for ranch chores and clearing brush. Reagan also owned a CJ-8 Scrambler and a Subaru Brat he regularly drove on his ranch. I hate to say this, but whoever wrote this article did not do any viable research and deserves an F. It wouldn’t surprise me if some or all of the cars pictured in this article are not the actual vehicles.

Steve Cypher

Mike,
Thank you for pointing out our mistake – although, in all fairness, as noted in the first paragraph, it was Hagerty Insurance that did the research and supplied us with the year, make and model of the Jeep in question and you, yourself, note that he owned a number of Jeeps. In any case, we now stand corrected and the image that currently appears in the article is the actual presidential Jeep owned by Reagan. We were swayed by the fact that the first image had a “Reagan” license plate affixed to its front bumper and, according to at least one source, was a Jeep owned by the late President. As for the rest of the vehicles, the 1946 Ford Tudor sedan, 1961 Ford T-Bird, 1950 Oldsmobile 98, 2006 Cadillac CTS and 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid are merely examples of the year, make and model that the respective presidents drove (under the images there is nothing that would indicate any ownership or use), while those identified as actually being used by a president were tagged thusly, i.e.: the Baker Electric driven by Taft is now in Jay Leno’s collection, while FDR’s Packard 12, Ike’s ‘Detroit Car’ Imperial and Bill Clinton’s 1967 Mustang Convertible are the very same vehicles either owned or used by those presidents.

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