• FDR’s Armored 1942 Lincoln Limo Would Be At Least $1 Million Today

It’s a ride fit for a president

The Petersen Automotive Museum is home to a lot of the most famous vehicles in history. One model, in particular, was the recent subject of a video hosted by the museum’s chief historian, Leslie Kendall. It’s an armored 1942 Lincoln Zephyr that happened to be the presidential ride of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States of America.

FDR's Armored 1942 Lincoln Limo Would Be At Least $1 Million Today
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Among many firsts, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1942 Lincoln Zephyr was the first presidential vehicle that was delivered to the White House with armoring already in place from the factory.

According to Kendall, the custom Zephyr was commissioned from Ford with a lot of unique safety measures that were put in place to keep Roosevelt protected from inside the car.

Steel plating on the roof, floorboard, and transmission tunnel was installed. The flathead V-12 engine was also lined with a heavy wire mesh to prevent bullets from penetrating it. Back then, the bulletproof glass didn’t come standard on presidential rides. Instead, Roosevelt’s Zephyr came with bullet-resistant glass windows that were nine panes thick. All told, the Zephyr weighed a staggering 7,000 pounds. Ford also added supplemental cowl vents that could’ve opened from inside the car to help cool the engine.

FDR's Armored 1942 Lincoln Limo Would Be At Least $1 Million Today
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Shortly after World War II, the Zephyr was given a facelift to reflect the post-war front-end styling of the newer 1946 Zephyr model. A new front clip replaced the thin blade grille, and the car’s suspension was overhauled with stronger wheel axles from a truck.

The 1942 Lincoln Zephyr presidential limousine is housed in the Petersen Automotive Museum’s Vault collection along with other historical rides that were used by other international heads of state. The museum is currently closed, but a virtual tour of its grounds was released a few weeks ago. Everyone can watch from the comforts of their own homes.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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