1938 Cadillac convertible parade limousine

Presidential Cadillac to be auctioned in Phoenix

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A 1938 Cadillac convertible parade limousine originally ordered for Franklin Roosevelt will be on the auction block at RM Auctions’ Phoenix sale on January 19, 2012

Nicknamed “The Queen Mary” after the ocean liner, this 1938 V-16 Cadillac convertible parade limousine with body by Fleetwood, was one of two specially built for the White House. The other, its twin, was known as “The Queen Elizabeth.” Cadillac received an order from the White House for two 16-cylinder open limos, each with a 165-inch wheelbase, for President Roosevelt.

The cars belonged to Cadillac’s Series 90 Sixteen, and used Cadillac’s second-generation V-16, a 431 cubic inch behemoth capable of producing 135 horsepower. It was actually 250 pounds lighter, 13 inches lower and six inches shorter than its predecessor. It would have needed all the horsepower it could get, as the cars are said to have been armor-plated and weighed about 8,000 pounds. In addition, they were equipped with compartments for firearm storage, sirens, lights, and communication equipment.

Both cars were leased to the US government by Cadillac and were used up to 1956 (not just the Roosevelt administration, but the Truman and Eisenhower administrations as well). They sometimes carried the President, sometimes they carried others in his motorcade.

Cadillac occasionally updated the cars. In 1946, the V-16 engines were replaced with V-8s. In 1952, newer, more powerful OHV V-8s were installed. The 1952 engine is still installed in the Queen Mary. When the cars were retired from official duty in 1956, Cadillac dealer Jack Tallman bought the Queen Mary and kept it for many years as part of the Tallman Collection. He apparently had the option of purchasing both cars but decided to take the one he thought was in the best condition.

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