President Obama’s limousine, reportedly nicknamed “the beast” by the Secret Service, is the brawniest presidential ride to ever take to the streets. No matter what kind of truck frame it may have underneath, on the outside, it’s badged a Cadillac.
General Motors has shared presidential limo duties with Ford Motor’s Lincoln through the years. Since Presidents Day was Monday, it is a good time to look at the role that Cadillac has played in keeping presidents rolling. Here are the top 10 interesting facts about Cadillac’s presidential limos:
–President Woodrow Wilson rode in a Series 53, 1916 Cadillac through the streets of Boston during a World War I victory parade in 1919. Cadillac models were used during the war in Europe due to the power and durability of the engines, the first mass-produced V-8s.
–A lavish 1928 Cadillac Series 341 town car was used late in the Calvin Coolidge administration. The Series 341 was new for 1928 and featured a 90 horsepower V-8 with a smooth dual plane crankshaft, 3-speed manual transmission and tiltable beam headlamps. Fit for the President of the United States, the 1928 Cadillac embodied master craftsmanship and artistry.
–After the attack on Pearl Harbor, legend has it that President Franklin D. Roosevelt used a heavily armored 1928 Cadillac Town Sedan that was originally owned by gangster Al Capone.
–In 1938, two Cadillac convertibles, dubbed the “Queen Mary” and “Queen Elizabeth,” were delivered to the U.S. government. Named after the great ocean liners of the time, the vehicles were 21.5 feet long, weighed 7,660 pounds each and were equipped with a small arsenal, two-way radios and heavy-duty generators. Durable and reliable, the two “Queens” served Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
–President Eisenhower, a noted car enthusiast, rode in one of the first Cadillac Eldorado models ever produced during his 1953 inaugural parade. The Eldorado represented a high point in automobile design history, as it had the first wraparound windshield, a feature quickly adopted on other production models.
–In 1956, the Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth II convertibles replaced the original series, to serve President Eisenhower, and continuing to serve Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Both vehicles were retired in 1968.
–The Reagan administration took delivery of a 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine and a Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. It is often stated that the real Presidential Cadillac Fleetwood limousine was used in the 1993 film In The Line of Fire, starring Clint Eastwood, but in fact it was a carefully constructed replica and not the precise car that the Presidents used in that era. For security reasons, Presidential vehicles are no longer used outside of their official duties.
–The Cadillac that debuted for service during the William J. Clinton administration in 1993 marked a new era. Up to this point, Presidential vehicles typically were production cars modified by limousine companies. The 1993 Presidential Brougham was designed, developed and built by Cadillac in a secure process that continues today, with presidential vehicles built in private to exhaustive specifications.
–The 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine resides at the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., while the 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham is at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark.
–Today’s Cadillac presidential limousine debuted in front of a massive worldwide audience during President Obama’s inaugural parade on Jan. 20, 2009. Sometimes nicknamed “Cadillac One” after the nomenclature for Presidential aircraft, the current limo incorporates signature design and technical elements from Cadillac production cars but is exclusively built for its mission. The car’s specifications are known only to the small team that designed it. The most visible difference is a more upright stance than predecessors, for improved outward visibility.