Pick of the Day: Harry Truman’s NYC Presidential limousine

Car is one of 10 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitans specially built for the White House

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Truman
One of Harry Truman's limousines is the Pick of the Day

As the story goes, when Harry Truman was running for President, his staff asked General Motors to loan several vehicles for use on the campaign trail. Apparently reluctant to supply the expected loser, GM declined. 

Of course, Truman won the election and the White House leased a fleet of 10 limousines for his use. Those cars were Lincoln Cosmopolitans, each modified by coachbuilder Henney and security specialist Hess and Eisenhardt. 

One of those vehicles, a 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan Limousine that Truman used when visiting New York City, is the Pick of the Day on ClassicCars.com. It is offered by a broker in Pennsylvania on behalf of the car’s Fort Worth, Texas, owner, apparently a collector of such “professional” vehicles.

“Own a piece of history of the President that, despite the push back from conservatives, was able to implement not just NATO but the Fair Deal, an ambitious plan which included national medical insurance, federal housing programs, a higher minimum wage, assistance for farmers, increases in Social Security and civil rights reforms,” the broker proclaims.

“Remember when Presidents were Presidents and got things done. Carry on this man’s memory in one of Truman’s super-special, custom-built, oversize Lincoln limousine’s — one of a fleet of ten built for lease to the White House. This big car has special running boards for Secret Service men, and a shiny, padded leather top with sufficient headroom for high silk hats.”

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The broker notes that the Cosmopolitan’s 125-inch wheelbase was stretched 20 inches and that Lincoln coupe and sedan body sections were used to create the stretched shell atop that lengthened chassis.

“Only one limousine was not delivered to the White House,” the broker adds, “Edsel Ford set aside that car for Chaim Weizmann, the president of the newly formed State of Israel.”

The Truman Lincoln being offered was the New York City car, which underwent restoration in the 1990s and had been displayed in a museum in Florida until 2001, when it was acquired by a collector. 

“The Presidential car’s leather-trimmed chauffeur compartment is separated from the luxuriously appointed cloth-upholstered rear cabin by a division window,” the broker notes. “There are two fresh-air heaters, the normal under-hood unit up front for the driver, and a trunk-installed custom unit for the rear-passengers. A special air inlet on the rear deck channels outside air to the rear heater.”

The advertisement notes that the car has been authenticated by the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. The car is being offered for sale for $160,000. 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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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.

20 COMMENTS

    • It would have been interesting for Edsel Ford to donate one of these models to Chaim Weitzman. First, his father, Henry Ford, was a rabid anti-Semite. Secondly, it would have been difficult for Edsel to donate a 1960 model, as he died in 1943.

  1. So true. And he does not give a damn about cars either. This is a very interesting article. A beautiful car too. Thanks for the article, Larry.

  2. Surprised at the consistent incorrect representation of the president’s name.
    It is Harry S Truman, NOT Harry S. Truman.
    NO PERIOD! His middle “name” is “S”!

    • Truman always put a period after the letter ‘S’, and did not consider the’S’ to be a stand alone name. Officially, then it has always been ‘Harry S. Truman’, which is how Truman signed his name.

    • Some people don’t like their first name and go by their middle name. H. Ross Perot was Henry Ross Perot. I suppose when you are a billionaire you can go by any name you want. Interesting history.

  3. They must have used the “special running boards” ( period correct restotation ) which are not on this car, to patch up the rust holes during the restoration !!

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