U.S. Presidents’ Coolest Cars
While United States politics can often be divisive and polarizing, there is one thing that nearly everyone can agree on: cool cars are cool! So in that spirit, we thought it would be fun to look past their policies, and see which U.S. Presidents have had the coolest cars. So without further ado, here are some of the most interesting cars that have been owned by U.S. presidents.
William Howard Taft – Baker Electric Runabout
The Baker Electric Runabout is interesting for a number of reasons. To start, it was a fully electric car that was available in 1910. Many people incorrectly assume that electric cars are a distinctly modern technology, but Baker was doing it in the pre-WW1 era. Additionally, it was included in the White House’s first ever fleet of cars, introduced immediately after the switch to automobiles was made from traditional horse-drawn transportation. This makes the Baker Electric the first ever President’s car, driven by William Howard Taft and the rest of the First Family. The Baker Electric had seating for four, and was considered to be quite a luxurious vehicle for the time period.
Herbert Hoover – Cadillac V16
Herbert Hoover’s Cadillac V16 was interesting for a number of reasons. To start, the V16 had a colossal 7.4L 16-cylinder engine. It produced 175 horsepower, making it an extremely powerful car for the time. However, much like its presidential owner, the Cadillac V16 went by the wayside as the Great Depression began to ravage the American economy. Sales were initially strong, but as The Depression took hold, ultra-luxury cars became an increasingly difficult sell. For this reason the V16 didn’t last too long into the 1930’s, but it did get the ever-exclusive automotive accolade of having been owned by a sitting U.S. president.
John F. Kennedy – 1961 Ford Thunderbird
The Thunderbird was already an American icon and a staple of Ford’s lineup at the time, but this icon-status was only heightened when word broke that J.F.K. was something of a Thunderbird enthusiast. J.F.K was quite smitten with his Thunderbird, as well as its 300hp V8, a very impressive mechanical achievement for the time. In fact, J.F.K. was such a fan of Thunderbirds that his inaugural parade included 50 matching Thunderbirds, after which Ford reported a significant boost in T-bird sales.
Lyndon B. Johnson – Amphicar
Perhaps the most interesting car on this list is President Johnson’s Amphicar. The Amphicar was, as the name may suggest, both a car and a boat: it could drive right down a boat ramp and into a body of water, and it would float and perform as a boat. It was the only vehicle of its kind that was produced with any sort of significant volume, with a total of just under 4,000 units being produced. Johnson is said to have had quite a bit of fun with his Amphicar, and Joseph Califano Jr., a former secretary, offers the following anecdote that showcases this:
“The President, with Vicky McCammon in the seat alongside him and me in the back, was now driving around in a small blue car with the top down. We reached a steep incline at the edge of the lake and the car started rolling rapidly toward the water. The President shouted, “The brakes don’t work! The brakes won’t hold! We’re going in! We’re going under!” The car splashed into the water. I started to get out. Just then the car leveled, and I realized we were in an Amphicar. The President laughed. As we putted along the lake then (and throughout the evening), he teased me. ‘Vicky, did you see what Joe did? He didn’t give a damn about his President. He just wanted to save his own skin and get out of the car.’ Then he’d roar.” (Quote courtesy of the National Park Service)
Ronald Reagan – 1962 Willys Jeep
Ronald Reagan was known for his love of his Reagan Ranch in California. He enjoyed working the land on his Ranch himself, and needed a trusty vehicle to help him do that. So, in 1963, his wife Nancy bought him a red Willys Jeep, which President Reagan would use to traverse the property. There are a number of historic photographs of Reagan and his jeep, which he loved dearly, and it’s still kept at the Reagan Ranch—relatively unrestored and in nearly the same shape that President Reagan left it.
Bill Clinton – 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible
Bill Clinton was often fairly outspoken about how much he missed driving his Mustang while he was in office, and it’s easy to understand why. Before he was elected President, Clinton purchased and restored his Mustang, and after the restoration was complete, he frequently cruised it around town with his family in tow. He is a true enthusiast, and this shows as he was quoted as saying that of all the things he struggled to leave behind as he became President, his Mustang topped the list.
Donald Trump – 1997 Lamborghini Diablo
While his policies are polarizing, his car collection is something I think most everyone can agree to like. Donald Trump, during his life prior to the Oval Office, was always known for having a rather ostentatious car collection, but this Diablo tops the list. While he sold it sometime before his presidency, he did own the car new, and it was a staple of his fleet for quite a few years. President Trump’s Diablo is powered by a nearly 500hp V12, and is equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox. Additionally, it’s the only 1997 Diablo known to be painted in Lemans blue. Pair that rare paint color with the fact that its original owner is a U.S. President, and frankly, let me tell you something, this is frankly one of the most collectible Diablos, maybe ever, in the history of Diablos.
Joe Biden – 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
In 2016, having been forbidden from driving while in office (as the Secret Service frowns on it) President-elect Joe Biden got to take his 1967 Stingray out with Jay Leno (and race Colin Powell in his 2016 Corvette) on the closed course of the Secret Service training center.
After a burnout that pinned car aficionado Leno back into his seat, Biden confided, “I shouldn’t say this on television—I like speed.”
The ‘Vette was a wedding gift from Biden’s father, who ran a Chevrolet dealership; just before the wedding, he asked Joe and his fiancée for their cars, because he wanted to fix them up as a wedding present to them. When they went by the dealership to pick them up, Joe Sr. surprised them with the brand-new Stingray.