The US President's Official Vehicles

Stylish, Expensive, Protected and Equipped!

Written by Carly Hallman

When the POTUS (President of the United States) has to get around, he usually does it in style. And if he’s not in style, at least we know that he’s often surrounded by millions of dollars’ worth of security detail.

Yes, for the U.S. president, cars and vehicles have always been expensive, as has been Air Force One. History has put a spotlight on the presidents’ one-of-a-kind planes: mobile White Houses, with all of the protections therein.

Would you like to embed this infographic on your site?

Official Vehicles of the President of the United States

Land – Official Presidential Automobiles

Year and Car Used by
1909 White Model M Steam Car William Howard Taft
1909 Pierce-Arrow Brougham Limousine William Howard Taft
1912 Baker Electric William Howard Taft
1916 Cadillac Series 53 Woodrow Wilson
1919 Pierce-Arrow Series 51 Limousine Woodrow Wilson
1921 Packard Twin 6 Warren G. Harding
1928 Cadillac Series 341 Town Car Calvin Coolidge
1932 Cadillac 452B V-16 Fleetwood Imperial Herbert Hoover
1938 Cadillac V-16 “Queen Mary” & “Queen Elizabeth” Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower
1939 Lincoln K-Series “Sunshine Special” Franklin D. Roosevelt
1942 Lincoln Custom Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman
Pullman Company Railcar “Ferdinand Magellan” Franklin D. Roosevelt
1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy
1953 Cadillac Eldorado Dwight D. Eisenhower
1956 Cadillac “Queen Mary II” & “Queen Elizabeth II” Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson
1961 Lincoln Continental SS-100-X John F. Kennedy
1965 Lincoln Continental Lyndon B. Johnson
1969 Lincoln Continental Richard Nixon
1972 Lincoln Continental Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan
1983 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham Ronald Reagan
1989 Lincoln Town Car George H.W. Bush
1993 Cadillac Fleetwood Bill Clinton
2001 Cadillac Deville George W. Bush
2005 Cadillac DTS George W. Bush
2009 Cadillac Custom “Cadillac One” Barack Obama, Donald J. Trump
2011 Prevost Custom Bus “Ground Force One” Barack Obama, Donald J. Trump

Air – Official Presidential Aircraft

Aircraft (Used from) Used by
Douglas Dolphin Amphibian (1933-1939) Franklin D. Roosevelt
Boeing 314 Flying Boat “Dixie Clipper” (1943) Franklin D. Roosevelt
Douglas C-54 Skymaster “Sacred Cow” (1945-1947) Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman
C-118 Liftmaster “Independence” (1947-1953) Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower
Lockheed C-121A Constellation “Columbine II” (1953-1954) Dwight D. Eisenhower
Lockheed C-121E Constellation “Columbine III” (1954-1966) Dwight D. Eisenhower
Aero Commander U-4B (1955-1961) Dwight D. Eisenhower
Boeing 707 VC-137 “SAM 970”, “971” & “972” (1958-1962) Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy
Boeing 707 VC-137 Stratoliner “SAM 26000” (1962-1998) John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton
Boeing 707 VC-137C “SAM 27000” (1972-2001) Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush
Boeing 747 VC-25A “SAM 28000” & “29000” (1990-present) George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald J. Trump

Sea – Official Presidential Yachts

Yacht (Used from) Used by
USS Despatch (1880-1891) Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison
USS Dolphin (1897-1905) Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt
USS Sylph (1898-1921) William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson
USS Mayflower (1905-1929) Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover
USS Sequoia (1933-1977) Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter
USS Potomac (1936-1945) Franklin D. Roosevelt
USS Williamsburg (1945-1953) Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower
Lenore II (1945-1953 under Truman), Barbara Anne (1953-1961 under Eisenhower), Honey Fitz (1961-1969 under Kennedy and Johnson), Patricia (1969-1970 under Nixon) Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon
S/Y Manitou (1961-1963) John F. Kennedy

Sources:
wikipedia.org
complex.com
autoblog.com
autoweek.com
gm.com
nationalmuseum.af.mil
loc.gov

Perhaps it’s for a good reason, though. As Americans, we’ve lost four presidents while in office, with many more having survived assassination attempts both during and after holding office (including one very stubborn man by the name of Teddy Roosevelt, who got shot during a speech and kept going anyway). But the task of transporting the president wasn’t taken very seriously until a late November day in 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

The President’s Car

Until the President Kennedy assassination, car travel was often done using an open-top vehicle, so that people could see officials being paraded about. In fact, the first president to ride in a car, Taft, rode in the back of a $4,000 White Model M: a quasi-safe, completely open, steam-powered vehicle, which camera-shy Taft loved because he could use the bursts of steam to hide himself from photographers. He also loved outrunning the Secret Service and the press and saying “you ate my dust!” (That’s right; the first presidential car was used to tease the Secret Service.)

In the following half-century, presidents’ cars were largely considered to be that: fancy, expensive parade vehicles, like the Sunshine Special, which was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s beauty, and the first car to be commissioned specifically for presidential use with Secret Service specifications.

After the assassination of President Kennedy, though, the military and government took a much closer look at each vehicle, and the sweeping, open-top parade vehicles began to resemble square, boxy limousines.

In the time of President Obama, car designs were created from the ground up. At about $1.5 million, we now know the limo by a new name: the Beast. President car specifications of today include some pretty intense parts, beyond the obviously bulletproof windows: steel plates underneath the car to protect against grenades, a sealed cabin against biochemical attacks, puncture-resistant tires, and containers of the president’s blood hidden in the trunk in case a medical emergency.

The President’s Plane

And, if we think presidents’ cars have gotten both ridiculous and ridiculously expensive over the years, that’s nothing compared the Air Force One plane. Because U.S. leaders have to move so much more quickly and frequently today, this has been one of the more costly presidential expenditures. Not to mention, it’s required to hold and feed almost 100 people and serve as a mobile command center if needed. That’s not the only plane, either: A “Doomsday Plane” often tails the president’s flight in case the worst should happen, and built to out-pace nuclear explosions. That’s ignoring all of the de-stressing needs the team might have, like meals with fancy silverware, its own mini Oval Office, or a hairdresser.

Naturally, the Air Force One history is similar to that of The Beast. There was a time when presidents weren’t as paranoid of nuclear war or as used to living in luxury. The first Air Force One was hardly more than a fancy air-yacht and puddle-jumper. Of course, it’s hard to say whether or not FDR actually rode in it, so the real Air Force One, in everything other than name, may be the Dixie Clipper.

But technically, the first president to ride in a plane was Theodore Roosevelt, who bravely flew in a newfangled Wright Flyer, though he wasn’t in office at the time. (Did we mention he got shot in the middle of a speech and kept going?! What is it with Roosevelts?)

Will a Teddy-like, insane fearlessness help reduce the skyrocketing costs of both the new Air Force One plane and the Beast? Or can we, and should we, invest in the safety of one of the world’s most important leaders? These presidential car and Air Force One plane facts may give us key insight into the future!


You might also like...