Presidential inaugurations usually are the perfect occasions for unveiling new presidential limousines.
New designs would appear on the inaugural parades, although it takes quite some time to develop improved models.
Within the past 30 years, five presidential limousines were presented to the world in succession, creating an evolution of the safest vehicles ever made.
Nonetheless, older models stay in use, but they don’t count as participants of the modern era of presidential limousines.
For instance, 1991 doesn’t seem like ancient history from this point of view, but in terms of automotive and engineering, it was a century ago.
In this article, we present you Presidential limousines that have marked the history and were important components in solemn inaugurations:
Queen limousine nicknames for president’s limo were “Queen Mary” and “Queen Elisabeth”.
1938 Cadillac V-16 President Convertible Parade Limousine was nicknamed Queen Mary and was one of just 2 specifically produced for the White House.
The other was used by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower and it was named Queen Elisabeth.
Briefly, after the debut of Cadillac’s second-generation sixteen-cylinder engine, the president’s limo was produced on special order with a 165-inch wheelbase.
It was 11 inches longer than the tremendous production model. The sixteen-cylinder engine was replaced with V8 after the end of World War II and it was easier to use.
President Eisenhower was the last one to use the cars during his re-election campaign. Afterward, Cadillac dealer Jack Tallman was given the chance to buy both vehicles. He chose the Queen Mary for his collection, where it remained for four decades.
Later on, the car was sold to one Al Wiseman in 1999. He exposed it at Amelia Island in 2002, where it was labeled as the best original, unaltered vehicle.
Now, it is offered for auction in Arizona by its last owner – John O’Quinn. It is estimated around $300,000 and $400,000.
How it all started?
Before 1939, presidents were driven in regular production cars. But, with the debut of specially designed Sunshine Special, a part of Secret Service’s fleet, everything has changed.
The name refers to its always opened top, and the model was designed according to a Lincoln K-Series chassis with power from a V-12 engine. It combines both safety and comfort.
Special attention was given to safety and security since there was an assassination attempt on Franklin Roosevelt while he was giving his speech in a Buick convertible.
Comfort was an important element since Roosevelt was in a wheel-chair and getting in and out of the car had to be simplified. Also, his presidential dignity had to stay untouched.
Special Sunshine has an armored body with a gigantic 160-in. wheelbase and oversize rear-hinged rear doors.
It was made by coachbuilder Brunn in Buffalo, New York. In 1942, the model was upgraded by that year’s new front end and advanced bulletproof glass with different armor-plated components.
After Roosevelt’s death, the vehicle stayed in presidential service until 1950. Now it is in Michigan, in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.
Rumor has it that President Harry S. Truman had animosity towards General Motors models because he wasn’t allowed to use them throughout his presidential campaign in 1948.
As a result, Ford’s Lincoln division was chosen as a replacement for Sunshine Special.
That’s how a stretched 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan was produced by Ford and given to the Secret Service. It boasted a 145-in. wheelbase and during parades it was convertible.
In 1954, it was improved by adding a large “bubble top” canopy, right after President Dwight Eisenhower figured out that he cannot be seen with the top up while is raining.
The Bubbletop got famous, stayed in Presidential service until 1965 when it was given to the Henry Ford Museum.
Since President John F. Kennedy was in this car when he was assassinated on November 22, 1961, Lincoln Continental SS-100-X stayed associated with bad luck. Still, the vehicle has its quality that should be appreciated.
The vehicle was designed by Hess and Eisenhart of Cincinnati who stretched the vehicle to incredible 33 inches by adding more space to the passenger compartment.
It was convertible with a metal hoop on which the president inclined into during the parades, just like one time in Germany, in the summer of 1963.
Furthermore, for the clearer view, the rear seat had the option to be lifted. It was empowered with a standard 430-cubic inch Lincoln V-8.
To break the chain of bad luck, the vehicle was modified with a bulletproof top and armored. It was given back to the presidential fleet.
Even though it was replaced by a new Lincoln in 1967, both Johnson and Nixon used it before it was passed on to the Henry Ford Museum in 1977.
This presidential limousine is famous because it protected both Ford and Raegan from assassins’ attacks and bullets.
The process of construction lasted over three years and it was performed by the Ford Motor Company. It was a 1970 model, but the design dated from ’72, and it was empowered by a 460-cubic inch V8.
Secret Service agents rapidly took President Gerald Ford into the vehicle when Sara Jane Moore tried to assassinate him in San Francisco. A massive 13,000-pound vehicle provided perfect protection.
Later on, it was modified and stylized to look like a 1978 model. One more time, it protected the president, in this specific case, it protected President Ronald Reagan, when John Hinckley tried to assassinate him.
1972 Lincoln Continental was the last presidential limousine designed with roof openings that enabled standing during the parades.
After series of Lincoln models, the Cadillac finally got the chance to build a presidential limousine for the secret service in the early 1980s.
To be exact, in 1984 appeared a pair of 1983 Fleetwoods that were constructed by Hess & Eisenhardt. The rooftops could only be lifted 3 and stretched 17 inches. Both vehicles were empowered by Cadillac’s own massive 500 cubic-inch V8.
Even though their bodies looked a bit strange, the Fleetwoods arranged exquisite perceptibility for the president.
The development of two 3/8ths inch thick bulletproof glass and strong air conditioning systems set up the ground for large greenhouses.
One Fleetwood was given back to GM who loaned it to producers for making the 1993 Clint Eastwood movie. The other one is exhibited at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Until George W. Bush’s inauguration, Cadillac stopped creating a full-frame rear-drive car that was appropriate for turning into a presidential limousine.
In the meantime, the Secret Service established more serious demands upon limousine’s safety. Thus, when the first Bush Deville appeared, it wasn’t according to the standards at all.
The rumor has it that the Deville had five-inch massive armored doors and a bulletproof glass that was that heavy that it disabled the light to go in.
Also, it was speculated that it was designed according to the frame of GM’s full-size SUVs, such as Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Suburban, and GMC Yukon.
It was said that it contained a separated passenger compartment with its secure air supply, a massive 454 cubic inch truck engine, and flat tires that could come across any possible barrier.
Cadillac came with an upgraded fleet of presidential limousines by the time of Bush’s second inaugural in 2005. In style, they looked like the DTS production sedan.
President Barack Obama is probably the last one to travel in Cadillac style. Now, presidential limousines are more advanced in technique.
The first impression is that the 2009 Cadillac looks like a large sedan, the DTS, but still, it combines elements of the STS and DTS in its rear part. The deck is significantly shorter than any previous model.
You can guess that the vast trunk isn’t that important since the number of full-size SUVs in the POTUS motorcade doesn’t seem to end.
The 2009 Cadillac is more raised than the DTS, which provides more room and sharpens exterior visibility.
There is superb leather inside and LED lighting extending to spotlights that glitter on the fender-mounted flag standards.
For security, front and rear parking sensors are installed. Furthermore, inside and out are placed Presidential seals. GM is kept tight-lipped on the car’s features.
The most stunning thing about the 2009 Cadillac is probably Goodyear Regional RHS tires. They testify that this amazing vehicle is based on a truck platform since this rubber is usually found on medium-duty trucks. Their thickness and armor plating make the vehicle much heavier.
As potential bases, the mongo-size GMC Topkick and Chevy Kodiak have been notified.
The Beast was spotted the first time on President Trump’s visit to the United Nations in New York City, and it entered the service in September of 2018.
Not many things about the Beast are exposed to the public, but several things about it leaked over the years.
Aurus Senat is a vehicle in which Russian President Vladimir Putin makes overseas visits since May 2018.
It is said that he made a special project – a Russian-built car, instead of relying on foreign brands such as Mercedes, as he did before.
Aurus Senat was the result, set to rival Rolls-Royce. Even though the Senat can be purchased by rich people, Putin’s model has been specially modified.
It can resist sniper fire and chemical gas attacks. Furthermore, it has advanced communications equipment installed. The doors are extra-large and they make entering and exiting much easier.
It was built by a Russian automaker Sollers. It was exposed to the public in 2018 and it was priced from 18 million roubles (approximately $274,000).
It is the Senat that gives orders to the Russian brand Aurus, the improved version of the extravagant sedan that serves as the presidential limousine for Vladimir Putin.
Its design mixes the looks of Chrysler 300 and the previous-generation Bentley Flying Spur. Two rear seats are retractable and the travelers can close the car’s window curtain and still visualize the outside world on live CCTV footage aired on internal screens. In the rear part of the limo is built an emergency exit.
It is powered by a hybrid engine that mixes a 4.4-liter V-8 with an electric motor. The V-8 delivers 598 horsepower and the electric motor adds 40 hp. In the future, a launch of a battery-electric version can be expected.
The Aurus vehicles are the successors of the Russian sedans made by ZiL, which transported Soviet leaders for decades.
In the future, the company will focus on the European market and the Middle East, providing both armored and non-armored models.
After reading our information about presidential limousines, what do you think – what is the best president car?
What appears to be an altered Cadillac is anything else but a Cadillac. They are more the size of a truck and the Secret Service has no intentions to reveal how many new ones they are making.
We can only guess that they are making plenty, and, unfortunately, we can’t have any of them. Unless, of course, we get elected.
Anyway, you can ride like a president if you rent one of our exclusive limousines.