Cadillac Series 75 Presidential Parade Limousine
The histories of American presidential limousines are quite well known, and it is widely recognized that there’s always a fleet of similar cars in use by the Secret Service. But presidents and their families often have their own preferences and needs for transportation, both official and informal. So it was for Mamie Doud Eisenhower, First Lady of the 34th President of the United States. The Eisenhowers desired a car that could be used by Mrs. Eisenhower and also serve as a formal and parade vehicle when needed.
In March 1955, an order was placed with Cadillac for an eight-passenger Imperial sedan, body style 7533X. It came off the Fleetwood assembly line in basic black, with dark grey, plain broadcloth upholstery, power brakes, E-Z Eye tinted glass, a rear compartment radio, a heater, and air conditioning. From the factory, it was sent to Hess & Eisenhardt, professional car conversion specialists in Rossmoyne, Ohio. They took the basic Imperial sedan and replaced the rearmost part of the roof with a section and rear window from a Series 62 Coupe de Ville. The result was a pillarless “hardtop” limousine, allowing an excellent viewpoint for press photographers. A sliding sunroof was added, along with a grab rail for balance while standing in the moving car. The driver’s compartment was upholstered in blue leather with a black padded dashboard, while the rear compartment was finished in buttoned grey broadcloth. The firewall data plate shows the special order conversion was complete on May 27, 1955.
The car remained in the White House garages for the remainder of Eisenhower’s term. In January 1958, there was a request from GM to lend it out for display at the Washington Auto Show, which the government summarily rejected. After the Eisenhowers had left the White House, the car was reportedly sold to an American General. In 1988, it was acquired by Olivier Delafon, a French collector of presidential automobiles and cars of state. It was kept in his collection until acquired by the current owner, another European collector, in 2006.
The car remains amazingly original. In fact, the original trunk-mounted air conditioner, with clear plastic ducts extending to the roof, remains intact. At some point, the original engine was replaced with a more powerful 1956 unit. Much is made of the first-line White House cars, from the Sunshine Special, the “Bubble-Top” Lincoln Limo that took Eisenhower into his first term, to the star-crossed presidential Continental that played a part in the nation’s sorrow in Dallas in November 1963. The Eisenhowers’ parade car has remained largely beneath the collectors’ radar, slumbering quietly in Europe for more than two decades. It has since come home to America and is offered with great pride.
Part of the RM Auctions event in Arizona in January, 2013.
285 bhp, 365 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 149.75 in.
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Teddy Pieper