Out of the 46 Presidents of the United States, 19 have owned and driven cars. That’s more than 100 automotive history years of iconic and special machines driven by the occupants of the White House.
Some presidents had bigger collectors than others, with the likes of JFK, Donald Trump, Lyndon B Johnson, and current president Joe Biden all having an interest in cars and a collection. From luxury cars to sports cars, many of these vehicles have been undeniably cool and some have become classic cars in their own right due to the popularity brought by the POTUS. So, without further ado, here are the 10 coolest cars ever to be owned by the Presidents of the United States.
10 John F. Kennedy – 1961 Ford Thunderbird
At John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade, the president’s recently acquired Ford Thunderbird Convertible featured prominently. The 3rd generation, popularly known as the ‘bullet-bird’, was a beautiful 2-door soft top featuring a 300 HP 390 CID V8 and a three-speed automatic transmission.
For his parade, JFK partnered with ford to make 50 limited edition Thunderbirds, named the ‘Presidential Edition’ or the ‘Mahogany Thunderbird Convertible’. The car was coated in a special Corinthian white never seen before or after on any Ford model. With gorgeous styling and a rare paint job, JFK’s thunderbird was an irrefutably cool classic car.
9 Herbert Hoover – 1930s Cadillac V-16
No to be confused with the forgotten concept car, the 31st President of the United States’ Cadillac V-16 was a monstrous vehicle of the period, but suffered due to how expensive the luxury car was. With an enormous 7.4-liter 16-cylinder engine producing 175 HP, the V-16 was a classy and powerful car.
However, with the great depression if the 1930s swarming the US, sales for the V-16 all but halted and the model bowed out only a few years later. The car is now recognized as one of the most brilliant of the prewar era, and when it’s good enough for the president, it’s hard to disagree.
8 Bill Clinton – 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible
Before becoming president, Bill Clinton has his 1967 Ford Mustang completely restored, so it’s no wonder he often said it was one of the hardest things he had to leave behind when becoming president. The 42nd president’s convertible featured a 120 hp 200-cubic inch I-6 engine and ‘Clearwater Aqua’ paint color.
Luckily, the car is not lost to a collector somewhere, and instead, after being recovered from the Museum of Automobiles, the Mustang was restored and gifted by Clinton to his nephew Tyler for his 16th birthday. Thus, ending a cool story and a cooler car.
7 Joe Biden – 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C2
It’s no secret that the current President of the United States is a big car enthusiast, and no car he owns shows that better than his ’67 Stingray. The current man in office had the car completely restored after owning the Stingray for over 50 years since new. The C2 was a wedding gift from his father, who was a Chevrolet dealer.
Biden’s ‘Goodwood Green’ C2 has a carburetted 327 V8 engine, putting out around 300 HP. The C2 is an absolute classic American car, and with one as well looked after as the POTUS’, it competes to be one of the coolest on this list.
6 Donald Trump – 1997 Lamborghini Diablo
While Donald Trump often makes the news for many reasons, his vast collection of cars is hardly ever one of them. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the 45th President of the United States has quite the garage-full of flashy cars. After all, his other loves of life are never half-baked, and his special 1997 Lamborghini Diablo he owned from new was no different.
While sold before becoming president, the Diablo was not only fast, due to its nearly 500 HP V12, but also rare, being the only one to be painted in a ‘Le Mans’ blue. Where or with whom the car is now is unknown, but while the man himself may be divisive, Trump’s one-off Diablo can probably be agreed upon by everyone to be a very cool car.
5 Lyndon B. Johnson – Amphicar
While probably being the oddest car on this list by a mile, Lyndon B. Johnson’s Amphicar was the coolest of his collection. Just as it sounds, the Amphicar was a car both capable of driving normally on land and float on water. Only around 4000 were made, making Johnson’s a valuable collector’s item.
Apparently, Johnson would often take the car out for a spin, and once famously pranked his secretary Joseph Califano Jr., by pretending it was just a normal car, claiming the brakes had failed, and driving into a body of water. According to the story, Califano Jr. was ready to jump out of the car before he realized it could float. After the event, Johnson would retell the prank all the time. A rare car, and funny story, just what makes it so cool.
4 Thomas Woodrow Wilson – 1923 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost
Rolls-Royce have created some of the most luxurious and expensive cars for over 100 years, and the Silver Ghost was no different. In the oddest of circumstances, the car was left by an anonymous supporter for his birthday. They’d even gone to the lengths of modifying the windshield and roof so that Wilson could fit in wearing his famous top hat.
The engine was a straight six 453.3 CID with a 4 speed manual gearbox, and the Silver Ghost’s chassis was known for its longevity and low maintenance costs. Combined with being an all round beautiful looking car, and now being one of the most expensive cars ever made, the Silver Ghost was probably the coolest surprise birthday gift a president could dream of.
3 Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1939 Packard Twelve
Purchased at the end of his second term as governor, Franklin Roosevelt’s Packard Twelve was a one-of-three phaeton model and was a symbol of luxury and elegance of the time. The twelve is exactly what you imagine when thinking of a prewar car: rolling fenders, white-wall tires and a hefty engine sat under the hood.
Like the name implies, the Twelve consists of a 12-cylinder engine, capable of pushing out 160 HP. The Packard Motor Car Company vehicle had some stylish finishing touches, such as a special New York governor’s fleet insignia, a finely crafted leather interior, and a dual side mount system. The coolest part is the Packard is now back on the road, after receiving some much-needed love in 2017.
2 Ronald Reagan – 1952 Willys M-38A1
Reagan was known for his love of Jeep’s, and, after owning a couple of 60s models, bought one of the coolest ones money can buy: a Willys Jeep M-38A1. Being the first Army jeep to use the Willys Hurricane F-Head 134 inline-four engine, and only being produced for 1 year under the Willys name, the model M-38A1 is a rare and desirable little car.
Similar to that of the WW2 models, it’s not very fast nor very comfortable, but what it lacks in practicality it makes up for in style and charisma. After being purchased by the Secret Service on behalf of the 40th POTUS, the car was owned by Reagan from 1982 until being donated in 1996. The car remarkably still exists today, and there’s no doubting the little truck’s character or coolness.
1 Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1936 Ford Phaeton
Although Roosevelt already made the list with another of his classic cars, it would be unfair to not mention his 1936 Ford Phaeton. Dressed in a dark blue with a cream leather interior, the President’s Phaeton was a stunningly good-looking car.
The car would’ve cost the president just $850, an obvious steal in comparison to the current price of old Fords of the era. The ’36 Ford was also modified to be controlled via his hands, allowing Roosevelt to continue driving despite his disability. Today, the Phaeton sits in the Presidential Library and Museum after being driven a total of 19,143 miles.
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