1942 Presidential Limousine

A look at the First Presidential Limousine Fitted with Armored Plating

The Petersen Automotive Museum has recently produced a video presenting the 1942 Lincoln Zephyr Limousine that was built factory fitted with armored plating for its new owner, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

With the fear of future Japanese aggression following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, this 1942 Lincoln Zephyr Limousine was the very first car with built in armored plating to be delivered to the White House.

1942 Lincoln Zephyr Limousine

When the White House ordered this car from Ford it was delivered with heavy steel plates under the floor, over the transmission hump, in the roof, and in the back.

Lining the engine compartment was an incredibly heavy wire mesh designed to prevent any bullets from penetrating the engine while simultaneously allowing cool air in.

engine of 1942 Lincoln Zephyr Limousine

Due to the car’s 7000 pounds weight, it took an exceptional amount of power to move the car. While the vehicle was in a parade traveling slow, a tremendous amount of heat would be generated by the engine under the hood. This heat could be exhausted by supplemental cowl vents controlled by levers on the inside of the car.

interior of 1942 Lincoln Zephyr Limousine
dashboard of 1942 Lincoln Zephyr Limousine
switches in car

A feature of the windows of the car is that the glass is nine panes thick and despite the glass not being bulletproof, it was certainly bullet resistant.

bullet resistant glass of Presidents vehicle

The windows had the ability to be lifted up and down. This contrasts to modern presidential vehicles where the windows do not wind down, a point of vulnerability seen by the Secret Service.

The sheer weight of the nine planes of glass required four counter springs in the mechanism to allow the windows to operate.

back seats of car

At the rear of the car can be seen wide running boards that were constructed to accommodate the Secret Service.

rear of 1942 Lincoln Zephyr Limousine
Running boards for Secret Service

The front of the car was revised after the war in 1946 for the President. When delivered it incorporated the thin blade grille of the pre-war design. In 1946 it received an entirely new front clip on it from Ford which made it virtually indistinguishable from a 1946 regular production Lincoln limousine.

USA flags on car
revised front end of car

Leslie Kendall, the Petersen automotive museum’s Chief Historian, takes you through the Presidential 1942 Lincoln Zephyr Limousine below:

About the Petersen Automotive Museum:

The Petersen Automotive Museum is dedicated to the exploration and presentation of the automobile and its impact on American life and culture using Los Angeles as the prime example. Further information can be found on their website.

[Source: Petersen Automotive Musuem. Photo Credit: Petersen Automotive Museum and Ted 7]