By on February 17, 2014


Hooniverse contributor and Phaeton owner Jim Yu operates one of the web’s best independent automotive blogs. Over at Tamerlane’s Thoughts, Jim offers up an eclectic mix of oddball enthusiast cars, vintage motorsports nostalgia and the occasional mix of travel, food and geopolitics. Sometime around 2009, I stumbled across Jim’s list of Official State Cars, which sought to catalog the ride of choice for every Head of State, from democratically elected leaders to military dictators to hereditary monarchs and all points in between.

By the time the project wrapped in 2012, Yu had catalog all 192 UN member states, plus a few others, with a recap posted on Hooniverse. If you’re looking for a quick hit, check it out. If you want the full-fat version with pictures of each car and Yu’s sharp commentary, you can work your way backwards at this link.

While the Skodas, Phaetons, and front-drive Lincoln Continentals provide a nice break from the monotony of the Land Cruisers and S-Classes used by so many heads of state, the winner, in my eyes, is Australia. Two V8 Holdens and two turbocharged Ford Territorys? Aussie Rules, indeed.

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26 Comments on “The (Nearly) Definitive List Of Cars For Every Prime Minister, President, President-For-Life, Dear Leader And Assorted Heads Of State...”

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    The white WL is the PM one. And yes, our Commcars rule!

    The governor general is chauffeured around in a gold WM.

    But they’re switching to BMW for the next batch :-(. Dunno about the GM.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The V8 Holdens and 4 litre turbo Territories are no slouches.

    But, in the news over here there are some who complain about the cost of these vehicles and want Prius style vehicles.

    I do think the head of state in any country should at least have what a local industry offers and the best at that.

    I suppose the next vehicles will be BMW’s or Merc’s.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    North Korea still owns several 1970’s Lincoln Continental limos. Who can forget the photos of Kim Jong-il’s funeral with his casket riding on the roof of one of these Lincolns.

  • avatar

    the good old merc 600 pullman was the favorite wheels from Pope to Lennon, Chairman Mao to Shah of Iran.
    saw 5-6 of them one morning that were being delivered to middle kingdom while i was waiting for the bus to school.
    those were back ups, just incase the Red Flag limos fail to proceed. Later on I found out it was for tricky Dick Nixon circa 1972.

    And many head of states stuck with RRs. Only 16 or 18 of Phantom IVs were built and they all ended up with the head of states then.

    I read somewhere his excellency Sultan of brunei did owned many RRs and bentleys , but stopped buy them as soon as the ownership changed into the German hands.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    The cars in Australia do rule, though the executive protection team leaves a little to be desired. I doubt the Secret Service would allow this to happen.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting article, I was surprised to see her “frightened” since she seemed pretty steely to me. I could almost believe the character of Francis Underwood (in House of Cards) was based upon her – for she did more than her fair share of backstabbing.

    • 0 avatar

      In the 1930’s the then Prime Minister of Australia drove his own 1938 Buick. Did his own washing and drove 400-500 miles to go a local Council meeting as he was still a member of that local Council, this is
      on top of running the country. He used to wave to the kids as he drove past(Ones that recognized him that is). Very laid back Australia then. security whats that?

  • avatar

    Okay, so these developed countries have mainstream vehicles as their presidential rides, but here in America, we have some big, buff custom built limo whose specs are government classified.


    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      To be fair, I doubt any country would publish the specs on the head of state ride. The President is taken around in a Suburban in a number of foreign venues – any vehicle can provide suitable protection with the right resources.

    • 0 avatar

      Almost all of those S600s are either made in-house by the government detail or bought armored from an armor car supplier then further modified. That’s actually why the S600 is so popular at the end of the day. The remainder of the list includes a great deal of land cruisers (also easily armored and sold by suppliers) and then the one-offs that are most likely modified and armored but in less extreme fashions. Arguably the Cadillac Limo the POTUS uses is barely even a Cadillac, it’s more designed from the ground up than rolling stock. Though Kennedy’s Lincoln and the following models until Clinton were effectively modified vehicles.

      Really it is an interesting list that has little relevance to the car manufacturer and more to do with the suppliers who modify them and the size/power/structure they can work with. S600s are mammoths by even American standards and work well at avoiding the American ‘Imperialism’ feelings in many countries.

  • avatar

    CADILLAC ONE has two GM trucks in its motorcade with miniguns, teargas, personal defense weapons and stinger rockets. One of the few uses of my tax dollars I’m proud of:

  • avatar

    This is the best state car ever, a stretched Studebaker Lark convertible used as a parade car for the Israeli prime minister, built by the Israeli assembler of Studebaker knocked down kits:

    What could be sillier than a Studebaker Lark limo? Unfortunately it no longer exists.

    • 0 avatar

      Ronnie – that is the best limo ever, not the silliest. I knew about the K-F assembly in Israel, but I didn’t know that they had later switched to Studebaker.

      Very cool that Israel had a homegrown car assembly – more proof that somewhere in the bureaucracy were some very forward thinkers.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      I have read that the last Studebakers ever built were Canadian made knock-down kits assembled in Israel in 1967.

      • 0 avatar

        Joe, that’s my belief, though the kits might have been stockpiled from before the time they shut South Bend down.

        • 0 avatar
          Joe McKinney

          Ronnie, I just did some more checking and you are correct. Here is a link to a Hemmings article stating the knock-down kits assembled in Israel were made in South Bend.

          Years ago there was a web-site dedicated to Israeli Studebaker police cars. I have not been able to find this site in recent years. Apparantly it no longer exists. The creator of the site claimed the last Studebakers ever made were assembled in Israel in 1967. I cannot recall if he actually cited any sources to verify this claim. The Hemmings article mentioned above says Studebakers were made in Israel through 1965.

  • avatar

    Franco’s Rolls was often tailed by an American less it failed to start. ETA never took a shot but they sent Bianco’s Mercedes flying…

  • avatar

    B-L-anco typo…

  • avatar

    Dodge 3700 always thought was a Merc<

  • avatar

    Ah, then we have Peru…gotta love a country that stayed with Big Nasty Mopar Iron all these years.

  • avatar

    The Territory looks like a Taurus X mated with a second generation Sorento.

  • avatar

    It used to be so much easier before the JFK assassination. In 1949, Harry Truman tried to get a Cadillac for his inauguration, but all the dealers were Republican apparently, and refused to supply a complimentary convertible, so he rode a Lincoln Cosmopolitan convertible to his inauguration – and then had all the Caddies in the White House motor pool replaced with Lincolns.

    By 1952, Eisenhower almost exclusively used the Cosmo replacement model, the Lincoln Capri, in his campaigns. Nixon was not happy when his Cadillac was nearly broken into by a mob on a trip to Venezuela, and refused to ride in a Cadillac after that, specifying Lincolns only.

    Even JFK himself didn’t have the bullet proof vehicles now standard. I was on vacation on Cape Cod in 1963, riding a bicycle around Hyannis, when there was a big crowd at the airport. JFK arrived with Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, and gave a speech to about 5,000 people, and then they both waded through the crowd to the Kennedy family Oldsmobile. You could reach out and touch either one of them back then.

  • avatar

    I think it was Modern Marvels that did an episode on the POTUS “Cadillac” limo a few years ago, and the only factory Cadillac part it had was the hood ornament. IIRC, it’s built on a truck chassis for starters.

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