As we roll into Presidents Day weekend, it seems apropos to mention a few pieces of Presidential automotive trivia. These are the types of tidbits that are completely useless except for someday providing the possibility of winning a free beer from your friends.
The first automaker to transport a US President was Studebaker. Before Studebaker made cars and trucks, it was a manufacturer of high-end coaches, which were the choice of Presidents as far back as Lincoln.
The first US President to ride in a car was William “Tons of Fun” Taft in 1909. Taft was extremely interested in cars, probably more than any other Commander In Chief since. He arranged to have the White House stables converted to a four car garage and ordered two 1909 Pierce Arrows to become the first White House automobiles.
Probably the most famous Presidential vehicle was Kennedy’s 1961 Lincoln Continental X-100 limo. It was customized by coachbuilder Hess & Eisenhardt at a cost of nearly $200,000. While it was a convertible, the car featured a removable clear bubble hardtop. After Kennedy was assassinated, the vehicle returned to Hess & Eisenhardt for what was referred to as the “1963-1964 Quick Fix”, which fully enclosed the car. This vehicle returned to Presidential service for LBJ, Nixon, Ford, and Carter. It was retired in 1977.
And though current President George W. Bush is usually seen in his Caddy limo or good ol’ boy Ford truck at his ranch, in his younger days of beer drinking and hell raising, he was notorious for ripping up Houston streets in a Triumph TR3.