Some of the cars Jay Leno has on his web show are pretty rare. But a custom Chrysler Imperial parade car made for the President of the United States (although never actually used by any president) is one that is going to rate especially high on the rarity scale. Making the car even more rare is the fact that, although it left the factory in 1952, it was updated with 1956 parts a few years later, and all of the modifications to the car, including the updates, were done by the factory.

The car is brought into the garage by its two caretakers, who are dispatchers for the city of Los Angeles and who give us a bit of history on the car. It was bought by the federal government so that the president would have a parade car to use while in Los Angeles, although the closest it ever came to being used for this was when Nixon (then Vice President) used it. The city of Los Angeles owns it now, but it hasn’t been retired as a museum piece, it is still used for parades and has been reupholstered and given a more modern PA system.

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As always, Jay takes the car out for drive around Burbank, noting that it handled surprisingly well. It’s in good running order, and the dispatchers say it’s still used for parades 12 or 13 times a year. That’s a fair number of parades, but overall, the car isn’t used nearly as much as an ordinary daily driver is, and that’s likely why the car is in such good shape. Jay wraps up the trip by sitting in the back and making full use of the PA system, making new friends along the way. It looks like fun, and it’s good to see that the city hasn’t replaced or retired the car.

Jacob Joseph
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