Presidential vehicles are a study in contrasts. They must be elegant to reflect the office, but durable to withstand heavy use. They have to keep the President visible to crowds, yet still provide protection from attack. Each of the following vehicles balanced those needs.
The Baker was also used by Woodrow Wilson's (1913-1921) first wife, First Lady Ellen Wilson (1913-1914), their three daughters, and Wilson's second wife, First Lady Edith Wilson (1915-1921). First Lady Florence Harding inherited the auto and passed it along to First Lady Grace Coolidge who used the Baker until it was retired in 1928.
The Lincoln Model K, with bodywork by Brunn & Company, included extra-wide running boards, special platforms at the rear corners, and chrome handles on the sides of the windshield so that Secret Service agents could ride along. After FDR's death in 1945, President Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) used the vehicle until 1950.
Serving the White House from 1950 to 1967, this limousine was created by Ford Motor Company with special bodywork by Ray Dietrich. After being used by Harry S. Truman (1945-1953), the vehicle served Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) as the official car for many public parades, including his inaugurations in 1953 and 1957. President John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) used the car at his inauguration in 1961 before upgrading to a newer model. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) also used the 1950 Lincoln as a spare.
Used from 1961 to 1977, this limousine was built by Ford Motor Company with special modifications by Hess & Eisenhardt. Mainly serving John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, the vehicle was thoroughly modified after JFK's death and used by Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969), Richard Nixon (1969-1974), Gerald Ford (1974-1977), and Jimmy Carter (1977-1981).
The limousine transported President John F. Kennedy and Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt in 1961. After Kennedy's assassination, a 1964 rebuild added a permanent armored top, bullet-resistant glass, and an armored titanium steel body. Material used in the gas tank minimized the risk of explosion, and solid aluminum inner “tires” were added in case the rubber tires were damaged.
In 1972, Ford Motor Company provided a new presidential limousine to the White House. Unlike the previous limos, this one was built for maximum protection from the start. Used until 1992, this limousine served Richard Nixon (1969-1974), Gerald Ford (1974-1977), Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Ronald Reagan (1981-1989), and George H.W. Bush (1989-1993).
From The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation™.
See more artifacts related to presidential automobiles in The Henry Ford’s Digital Collections.