HomeCar CulturePair of presidential cars joins national register, will be featured as Cars...

Pair of presidential cars joins national register, will be featured as Cars at the Capital returns to National Mall


President Taft’s 1909 White steam car at recreated Shaker Round Barn | HVA photos by Casey Maxon

Two more cars are being added to the National Historic Vehicle Register, and they will be on display next month in Washington, D.C., when the Historic Vehicle Association stages its second Cars at the Capital celebration.

Both cars selected for registry honors have presidential ties. They are the 1909 White steam car owned by President William Howard Taft and the 1962 Willys Jeep CJ-6 owned by President Ronald Reagan.

Reagan’s Willys at the former president’s ranch

“Representing a broad chronological span between the two vehicles and presidencies, Taft’s White Steam Car is considered the first official White House vehicle,” the HVA said in its news release. “The White represented the epitome of steam car technology in the early days of the automobile when gasoline power hadn’t quite taken hold of the market.

“Far simpler and more utilitarian is former president Reagan’s beloved Jeep,” the news release continued. “Like the man himself, the CJ-6 Jeep is a no-frills, back-to-basics workhorse that saw plenty of action as it trundled through the Reagan’s mountainous California ranch, often with the President himself behind the wheel.”

The HVA staged the first Cars at the Capital event in the spring of 2014, marking the first time an automobile was featured on the National Mall.

The second Cars at the Capital runs April 14-26. Taft’s steam car will be featured April 14-19 with Reagan’s Willys as the centerpiece April 20-26.

The National Historic Vehicle Register launched in 2014. It is similar to the National Register of Historic Places and is led by the HVA in conjunction with the Library of Congress and the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.

Already on the register are:

  • The 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe that won the world auto manufacturer’s GT racing championship.
  • The original Meyers Manx dune buggy.
  • The Indianapolis 500-winning 1939 “Boyle Special” Maserati 8CTF.
  • The 1918 Cadillac Type 57 that survived overseas service during World War I.
  • The 1947 Tucker “Tin Goose” Type 48 prototype.
  • A General Motors Parade of Progress Futurliner.
  • The 1940 Ford Pilot Model GP-No. 1 Pygmy “Jeep” prototype.


President Taft’s 1909 White is part of the collection at the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts, where the permanent collection includes the White, a 1932 Auburn boattail speedster, a 1927 Lincoln sport touring and a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette, while the Reagan Willys is owned by the Young America’s Foundation which is preserving the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara, California.

The Cars at the Capital celebration is being staged with major sponsorship from Hagerty Insurance and Shell Oil. Additional details will be announced soon by the HVA.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Recent Posts