POTUS Private Rides

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So, what does it mean if the president enjoys driving? Cars can be divisive, but they can also unite us. Interested in a nonpartisan look at some of the presidents who have been car guys? We’ll begin with President Joe Biden and work our way backward.

Joe Biden’s Corvette

Joe Biden, as you may know, is a Corvette enthusiast. As a former vice president, Biden was already aware of the rule prohibiting him from driving his car, but on rare occasions, he was granted permission to drive his beloved 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible, and he made the most of it. For example, in October 2016, he appeared on Jay Leno’s show “Jay Leno’s Garage” with comedian and fellow car enthusiast Jay Leno. The filming took place on the secure property in Washington, D.C., and it was Biden’s third time driving the Corvette since 2009. Biden’s father used to own a Chevrolet dealership, so the ‘Vette holds a lot of sentimental value for the entire family. After delivering a speech on clean cars and trucks in August 2021, Biden was allowed to drive an electric Jeep Wrangler around the White House’s South Lawn.


President George W. Bush’s Ford F-150

The 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, has also appeared on “Jay Leno’s Garage.” Bush has owned several Ford F-150 pickup trucks, including a 2009 King Ranch Super Crew 4×4 that sold at Barrett-Jackson in 2017. The auction raised $300,000, which Bush donated to charity. Bush’s Leno segment was filmed in 2017 at the Bush family ranch in Crawford, Texas, where W. gave Leno a ride in a 2013 F-150 King Ranch edition truck that was well used around the ranch and bore plenty of scuffs and scratches. Many pickup trucks go unutilized, but not this one. Since Bush hasn’t driven on public roads since 1993, any truck he owns is almost certainly put to use on the Bush family’s sprawling Texas estate.


The Subaru Brat of Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, was a well-known Jeep enthusiast who drove a 1962 Jeep CJ-6 and a 1983 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler around his California ranch. Reagan was well-suited to become a secret test driver for Subaru in 1980, long before it was acceptable for American politicians to be seen in Japanese cars and long before the Japanese automaker won over Americans with its practical, family-friendly station wagons and daring sports cars. According to Jalopnik, Subaru was testing the Brat pickup truck, similar to the one shown here, at the time, and a Brat ended up on Reagan’s ranch through a friend of a friend. He could ride it around the ranch all he wanted as long as he kept Subaru updated on its progress. Another interesting gig for the actor/politician.


The Oldsmobile 98 of Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, was known for two things: his claim that he was not a crook and his 1950 Oldsmobile 98. He mentioned the Oldsmobile because he believed that owning one made him more likable and sympathetic to working-class Americans. Of course, the fact that his Olds had a 5.0-liter V8 engine negated that claim slightly. Nixon went down in history as the president who resigned after being impeached over the Watergate scandal. His car was cool, but it didn’t help him gain popularity.


Lyndon B. Johnson’s Amphicar

The 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson, was the last president to be allowed to drive on public roads. Johnson served as President John F. Kennedy’s vice president until his assassination in 1963. Kennedy’s death sparked the rule that now requires all presidents to hand over their keys for life. Johnson, on the other hand, was known for driving a car that wasn’t limited to the road. His 1961 Amphicar, one of 4,000 built, could drive off solid ground and right into the water. Johnson, according to political car lore, enjoyed pretending the car’s brakes had failed as it drove toward a lake on his Texas ranch, just to scare his passengers before easing it safely onto the water’s surface. This may be the funniest of all the presidential ranch misadventures mentioned thus far.

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