Cars of Presidents & Candidates: Roosevelt to Clinton, Obama to McCain

James Raia

Cars of Presidents & Candidates: Roosevelt to Clinton, Obama to McCain 1Hagerty Insurance, the nation’s largest insurance agency for collector vehicles, has compiled a list of the most interesting cars owned in the last century notable presidents as well as candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.

The top-10 most interesting cars list coincides with what’s among the most historic presidential elections. Hagerty Insurance researched the personal vehicles of America’s past presidents and current candidates and selected one car for each individual most attention-grabbing for his time.

The result is a fun and informative look at what drives American presidents or what American presidents (and candidates) drive.

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.

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.

Cars of Presidents & Candidates: Roosevelt to Clinton, Obama to McCain 2

3. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953): 1945 Ford Super DeLuxe Tudor Sedan — 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.

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.”

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.)

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.

7. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989): 1952 Army Jeep, Model M-38A1 — 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.

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.

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.

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 Ford Escape Hybrid. It makes sense Obama owns a hybrid . . . he is a big supporter of researching the best methods for alternative fuels for transportation.

Article Last Updated: October 27, 2008.

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