Yesterday, I gave you ten fascinating facts about Presidents and cars. And by "facts" I mean half were a special type of fact many experts would term a "lie." So, as promised, today I'm revealing which ones were true, and which were imaginary.
1. The first President to serve at a time when there was an American-built automobile was Thomas Jefferson.
TRUE. Some clever commenters mentioned Oliver Evans' 1805 Oruktor Amphibolos, A steam-powered, probably-not-steerable, and possibly never really operable self-propelled amphibious vehicle. The fact that it was at least built was good enough for me, so this one I count as true. I'll have more about Evans and his vehicle soon.
2. The first car a President ever rode in was a Locomobile.
TRUE. Yep, another real fact. 1899, President McKinley, steam-power. Not an official vehicle, but this was the first car to carry a US President.
3. The only President to have owned a rear-engine car prior to becoming President was George H. W. Bush (41), who owned a Chevrolet Corvair from 1962-1966.
FALSE. Bush Sr. wasn't nearly cool enough to rock a Corvair. Now, as commenter Bluecold pointed out, President Johnson did own an Amphicar, which is very rear-engined. Johnson also had a Fiat 500 Jolly, again with the engine out back. Barring other evidence, I'm giving the ass-engine crown to Johnson.
4. There are eight car company names in Presidents' names, divided between seven Presidents.
TRUE. This one's a bit tricky, as it relies on some obscure makes. But here's the list: Ford, Lincoln (duh, duh), Cleveland, Davis, Monroe, Grant, and the two from one guy, Franklin Pierce.
5. Dwight Eisenhower was the first sitting President to lay rubber, in a Willys Jeep during a visit to Fort Benning in 1959.
FALSE. As many commenters pointed out, how the hell could anyone prove that? What President wouldn't claim that?
6. The Secret Service operates a refresher driving school for Presidents leaving office, most of whom have not driven themselves for four to eight years.
FALSE. As far as I know, at least. Seems like a pretty reasonable idea to me. Harry Truman did have someone from Chrysler come down for a day to reacquaint him with how to drive (despite probably driving more than any other president).
7. Herbert Hoover held the world land speed record for 24 minutes in 1927, when he was allowed to drive Henry Segrave's "1000hp" Sunbeam at Daytona Beach prior to the record-setting attempt. Hoover clocked in at 161.4 mph, beating the old record of 145.9 mph, just before Segrave set the new record of 203.8 mph.
FALSE, but all the other facts in there are true, save for anything to do with Hoover. I liked the idea of this one a lot, and I had to look long and hard to find a plausible enough former record for the President to beat that would still be enough lower than the actual professional driver's speed to seem plausible. I took my time with this one.
8. The first car used at a Presidential inauguration was a Packard.
TRUE. Yep, a Packard! Specifically a Packard Twin Six, hauling Warren G. Harding to his inauguration, supplied by the RNC. I wonder if they have any Packards left?
9. President Jimmy Carter had two specially prepared black Chevrolet Chevettes purchased for his official use, to show his commitment to energy efficiency. They were never used, and are now in the Harrah's collection in Las Vegas.
FALSE. I think this one sounds plausible, but no. Carter took this a step further in his actual inauguration and walked, you know, like an animal would.
10. President Nixon mentioned his personal car in his famous "Checkers" speech– a 1950 Oldsmobile.
TRUE. Yep! One of Nixon's few redeeming qualities was automobile ownership. Here's the quote, from the famous speech:
I have just $4,000 in life insurance, plus my G.I. policy which I've never been able to convert and which will run out in two years. I have no insurance whatever on Pat. I have no life insurance on our our youngsters, Patricia and Julie. I own a 1950 Oldsmobile car.
That's a pretty dull speech, in hindsight.
Well, I hope everyone had some mild fun here; don't forget to vote in nine months or so.