tv Presidential Vehicles CSPAN August 27, 2017 9:57pm-10:26pm EDT
pro-hitler's at the beginning of the war because heather promised so many wonderful things and then when he did see what hit the was doing, he was very much against him and he was imprisoned. undulate did not die in prison, he died in the 80's. this is what he wrote. >> i did not speak out because i was not a socialist but then they came for the trade unionists and i did not speak out and they came for the jews, i did not speak out because i was not a jew. then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me. me, this is what this museum is about. when you see injustice and easy -- and you see people looking pain on other people, you say something.
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that way, allowing them to take in other peoples opinions and perspectives through social media and through video. it gives them a chance to think this is how i see the world, but why is it i see the world this way? how can i expand that my seeking other people's perspectives? tuesday on c-span, c-span.org, and the free c-span radio app. artifactsek, american takes you to museums and historic places to learn about american history. next, we tour the presidential vehicle collection in dearborn, michigan. the transportation curator shows us cars used by presidents truman, eisenhower, carter, and reagan, and the lincoln continental john f. kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated.
we are in the ford museum standing in front of the presidential limousines that tell the story of transportation over the last 115 years or so. behind me is the carriage used by theodore roosevelt. by the time of roosevelt's administration, it is a common occurrence to see cars on public streets. roosevelt, for all the reputation he has as a forward-looking progressive, never cared much for automobiles. he wanted to remain in horse-drawn vehicles. i think he thought there was a formality involved that was appropriate to the dignity of the office. but i think also, he had a progressive and men of the people image he wanted to protect. at that time, automobiles were thought of as playthings for the wealthy.
it would not do him good to be caught riding around in a car. he used that for his primary transportation when moving around washington. vehicles like this would happen fairly common in larger cities. we have a vision in our heads from western movies that everybody had a carriage and it was the equivalent of the family car. not so much the case. if you were in the city, you are most often walking on foot or bicycling by the 1890's. streetcars were available by that time. in rural areas, probably had a general-purpose carriage. not necessarily a buggy it resembled this. more like a farm wagon you could use to take into town. in larger cities, you would see more of these used for personal transportation or as taxi services. the president would be of a certain station that he would be able to use one of these, as roosevelt did throughout his administration. next, we are going to look at a
vehicle that belonged to another roosevelt,president who would be president decades later. taft toit to william arise the white house fleet. and a an electric car steam powered car. from that time on, transportation evolved quickly. the car behind us is a 1939 lincoln model k, one of the most significant residential vehicles in that it is the first car modified for presidential use. i don't mean armor. this car was not armored when it was delivered to the white house. it was modified to be more luxurious -- it was not modified to be more luxurious. it was modified for practical purposes. the upholstery was thicker because a lot of people were
getting in and out and putting a lot of wear on the seat. this is most often associated with franklin roosevelt. it had a nickname, "sunshine special," which came from his preference to ride with the top down but also because of his famously sunny optimism. in world war ii, he maintained an optimistic persona throughout his public appearances. this car was modified even more after pearl harbor was attacked in 1941. lincoln was able to add armor to the vehicle. curiously, it is still a convertible so there was a weak spot in protection. nevertheless, it does represent a turning point in presidential transportation. if we look, we will see other modifications you would not see on a typical vehicle. it has wide running boards which
were common in the 1930's although they were starting to fade away in popularity. at the back of the car, there is a sign that says "do not pass." if you come on the motorcade, you should not pass it. the president should always be seen in front of the group. there are grab handles on the back in the front, and sides for secret service agents to hold onto the vehicle and platforms for the agents to protect the president and passengers. presidents' motorcades were evolving. they could still be modest during roosevelt's term with a few trailing vehicles carrying other people in the presidential party. the greatest status in the would-be to be able to ride in the car with the president himself. important dignitaries or people roosevelt was trying to woo would ride in the car with him as a treat.
there are other modifications. there are cabinets built into the rear of the front seat. they could be used to store guns in the event of emergency if the secret service were to need them to protect the president. several things you would not see on the typical car. a siren in the front, red lights to be used to get attention and get people out of the way. we can look at another car that came after world war ii and was used by a few of roosevelt's successors. looking at a 1950 lincoln cosmopolitan used by president harry truman and president kennedy. it is most often associated with president eisenhower. as originally built, the car was a convertible. it did not have the plexiglas top. that is credited to eisenhower. he had seen vehicles like this in europe during the war and
thought that might be handy for the president of vehicle. it is not armored. the war was over, there is no of security to be a vital concern. but it does provide protection from the weather. in the event it rains, the president can have some protection. it is sectioned. it can be taken apart and stuck in the truck. it does not have to be used. that would allow the president to stand up in the car. there are handrails along the back of the front seat that would allow them to stand and wait to the crowds, which also explains the other strange rectangular windshield. for when bug shield the president is standing and waiting to the crowds so he does not get a face full of flies or something. this vehicle is a standard lincoln stretched and given a little more rigorous poultry to hold up to the wear and tear of people getting in and out.
there are platforms on the back for secret service agents and flashy lights, that kind of thing. but still fairly modest in terms of its appointments. it served presidents well write up into the kennedy administration. the size of the fleet varies from year to year. it starts fairly modest and grows a little bit. primarily, there was always just one main parade car for the president. that car would be used whenever he was traveling in some kind of motorcade in washington, d.c. it might be taken with him when he is traveling. this could travel by rail or to move as we start toward cargo planes to transport various things by the time eisenhower was president. if not, the president might use a vehicle furnished by a local dealer in another part of the country. a lincoln agent would provide a car, and that was it. the state cars were used for
special purposes or high-profile events because there was expense in transporting them. presidents would not be driving themselves in their official capacity in motorcades because their point was to be seen. these cars were always meant to provide an opportunity for the public to feel as though they were getting a close look at the president. however, presidents did enjoy driving on their own, perhaps around the white house grounds, more often around their private homes. modified to allow him to drive with hand controls because he did not have the use of his legs. president johnson had several cars he enjoyed. he had one of the cars that turns into a boat. he loved to drive it into the river on his ranch. presidents certainly did drive, but not in their official capacity. the presidential vehicle behind me is undoubtedly the most famous presidential vehicle in our collection and arguably the
best known presidential losing -- limousine. this is the 1961 making continental used by president kennedy through his years in office and the car he was riding in when he was assassinated in 1960's three. the car looked different when kennedy knew it then it does today. we think of it as being a deep blue color. it did not have this roof. it was a convertible originally and had no armor. this is after world war ii when despite the cold war, we did not think there could be that kind of risk or danger to the president's life. this is also a time when the automobile was a force in everyday life in the united states. it was just after president eisenhower signed the legislation to create the highway system. people are traveling for vacations, business, and work by car. the family car is very much a force of life. this lincoln was a perfect fit for president kennedy.
we think about large cars like lincolns through the 1950's, we think of the tailfins and shiny chrome. by 1958 and 1959, they got excessive past the point of good taste. when they were redesigned in 1951, they were a breath of fresh air. the chrome is understated. the cars are clean and elegant looking. they looked very formal. it was a perfect match for president kennedy because we think of him as being elegant, modern, forward-looking taking us into the new frontier. the two made a perfect match, president kennedy and his vehicle. everything about the car changed after november 22, 1963, when the president was assassinated. there had been a roof even though it was a convertible. it was a reflect the one we saw on the 1950 lincoln, acrylic to protect from weather.
after the assassination, the car was immediate recent back to the white house where the f.b.i. and secret service conducted a thorough investigation to document evidence. after that, the car was sent back to the modifier in cincinnati to be completely rebuilt as an armored vehicle. people are always astounded to think this car was put back into service after the assassination. you would assume it was destroyed or locked away in a warehouse. the simple fact is, the president needed to have a vehicle, president johnson at this point, and there was not time to go back to the drawing board and build something from scratch. most expeditious thing to do was to rebuild the car. they thoroughly rebuilt it with titanium armor plating behind the doors, steel plating underneath the backseat to protect from landmines or grenades. there was a special filter in the trump so if there was a gas
attack, it would filter and take out the harmful gas to protect the president. there was a large wraparound piece of bulletproof glass, the largest made at that point. the cars have to protect the president but also have to make him as visible as possible. it is tough to find the balance between those things. we notice itr now, is black instead of the delegate midnight blue when we think of president kennedy. that was done at the insistence of president johnson. he was in the motorcade in dallas that day. he was always very uncomfortable writing in this car, for obvious reasons to one thing he insisted black. car be painted he thought the car would be associated with the public with the tragedy. we look at it now, we would notice there is a catch in the roof that was not originally there. that was put there at the insistence of president nixon
who wanted to be visible to wave to the crowds. there is this constant strain between the president and his protectors. the president wants to be seen. they thrive on that interaction with the public. the secret service would just as soon have the president her medically sealed and protected. you cannot have it both ways and it has to be compromised. with all that the glass, it got very hot in the car. the original air-conditioning would not be sufficient to keep a car of this size cool, so they added a second air-conditioning unit in the trunk. even so, it could be sweltering hot in the car. this car was used all the way through 1977 into the carter administration. it was no longer the primary presidential vehicle the early 1970's but might be used by a president is the primary vehicle was not available. it is kind of remarkable to think it was used that long
before it was retired from service and came to the henry ford museum of american innovation. the cars at this time were not purchased outright by the white house or secret service. they did not have the budget at that time to be buying expensive vehicles. they were instead leased to the white house by lincoln for a nominal fee each year. lincoln thought it was worth it because they got publicity and it was a good deal for the white house because they were not having to outlay large amounts of money for the vehicles. they would have a 15-year service life at most. at a certain point, they get too dated. this car looked modern in 1961. it looked out of fashion by the mid-1970's. at that point, it had to be retired. at that time, there was a new presidential vehicle that was the primary vehicle. that is the one we can look at next. we are looking at the last of
our series of vehicles. this is a 1972 lincoln continental built for president nixon and used by every subsequent president up to george h.w. bush, the first president bush. this car represents the final step in the evolution of presidential transportation. we've gone from the carriage that belonged to teddy roosevelt, to franklin roosevelt's sunshine special, up to standard lincoln's modified but no other changes. this is a car built from the ground up as an armored vehicle to provide maximum protection to the president. you have armored plating behind the doors, bulletproof glass, reinforced tires so if the tire gets punctured, the vehicle can still drive to safety. this car was built for president nixon and became the primary car after it was built in 1972.
it is most often associated with president lincoln. he was shot in 1981. he survived of course. it was more dangerous than we realized at the time. this was the car into which is that reagan was getting after he made the speech at the washington hilton he was shot. it is almost ironic. as the president was getting into the car were being pushed into the car by secret service agents, he was hit not by a direct bullet but a bullet that ricocheted off of one of the armored panels of the car. it was a perfect shot for lack of a better term. the shot went through the door and the body. fraction of an inch off and he might not have been hit at all. the car continued to be used. any damage it received what have been minor. that is something we don't think about. we think of these cars as in glamorous but they did live rough lives being bumped around
in airplanes. they would be strapped down and banged up. they would also be hit by rocks by protesters. it is part of the american way of life. we are free to speak our lives and protest. these cars would have been on the front lines of it. they did get a lot of care. the secret service had a garage they could paint and wash them and keep them in top condition. even with that, the cars did age after a certain point. they fell out of fashion, the styling was too dated. if you look at photos, the front end looks quite different. whenever they could, they would do that. at a certain point, they looked too dated, as this one did by the early 1990's. some cars are associated not just with presidents but with the passengers they carried. almost any world leader or dignitary you can think of would
have ridden in one of these cars. special hadsunshine winston churchill riding in it several times. the bubble top, charles de gaulle rode in that car. queen elizabeth rode in that car as princess and later queen. any number of dignitaries would have been in the more recent cars. being in the presidential cars is a real perk and point of pride for folks. anyone from a big city mayor to someone in the congress the president is trying to woo to get legislation passed might be given a ride, just as air force one is treated as a perk today and something the president uses as a tool to sway them to vote the way he might wish them to. this is the most recent car in our collection even though it was built in 1972. it is several decades old. the cars are not going to museums much.
part of that is because they are not building one primary car. they are building several copies of the parade car so there are more of them. partly, these cars are destroyed at the end of their service life. that is partly perhaps to keep the technology from falling into the wrong hands. to protect them from more modern weapons. israel to see them in museums anymore. we may not get anymore either. we got these vehicles from the lincoln motor company. they were at leased to the white house by lincoln. when they got dated, lincoln took the back and gave them to us. purchasedrs are direct the white house from cadillac. they remain the property of the government. visitors have a lot of questions about these cars. the question they ask all the time about the kennedy car is,
is this really the car in which the president was assassinated? it is hard to believe it would have been put back into service and used for several more years after the assassination. it is. it was simply a matter of time. they needed a car for the president. it was faster to rebuild than start from scratch. car.ask about the reagan it looks like it has a spoiler. that is a handrail for secret service agents. up to be a handrail for them in the presidential parade. they assume they are something like james bond might drive. there must be rocket launchers hidden behind the headlights or homing devices. the technology is pretty basic. there might be microphones so the president can talk to the crowds. there might be a radiotelephone to be patched into the white house switchboard. that is about it.
beyond, these were really just transportation vehicles designed to serve a purpose to get the president where he was going and allow him to be seen in parades. young that, the technology was fairly basic. if i had to pick a favorite car, i suppose i think of the kennedy car is being a favorite because that represents two worlds of presidential transport. you have what started as a modified lincoln. but beyond that, it is just like a car you could buy for many dealer. after the assassination, it is completely rebuilt into an armored vehicle with special filters for gas attacks. that is the car that really represents the changing moment where we really have to start thinking about protection for our presidents. it is surprising it took that long and something that tragic to make that realization happen. of course, president lincoln had been assassinated in the 1860's.
for a time, we thought it could not happen again. unfortunately, it did several times before president kennedy was assassinated. i would pick that one. i also like the sunshine special because it is so associated with president roosevelt and perfect for his sunny optimism even during the depression. he loved that car. he always insisted on the top down whenever possible. both roosevelt and kennedy are charismatic leaders that thrived off of interaction with the crowd. they loved to be able to reach out and shake hands. they had to feel connected with the public. they did get a lot of energy out of that. both cars are associated with oath of those leaders. our presidential limousines are a permanent exhibit here. really all of them with the exception of the kennedy car have been on the forces today we got them and remained on the car. that car was left off of display for several years out of sensitivity for the tragedy associated with it. it has been on displaces the
late 1970's. these are some of the first rings people see when they come in because they are the first things people are looking for. they know they are here and want to see them. i have fun seeing people pose for pictures with the cars. they always pose with the sun sign special -- sunshine special and the kennedy car. on the anniversary of the assassination, we move it closer to the entrance. it was one of the most remarkable days in my professional career seeing people lined up out the door waiting for an hour or more to spend a few minutes with that car. they left flowers, cards, notes. it shows how these are tangible links to our own memories and personal experiences. i think that is what makes these cars so special. announcer: you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by visiting our website
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