The US President's Official Vehicles
Stylish, Expensive, Protected and Equipped!
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.
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|
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...
The Ultimate Road Trip
Take time to get out of dodge. Can be a plane, train or automobile. This series focuses on good old road trips. Some are a couple miles down the road and some are across the country or across the ocean to the most fantastic scenery or landmarks you've ever seen. Included are how to prepare, fun on the road, and preparation along the way.