The presidential cars which secured the safety of the nation’s commanders-in-chief have been restored and are now available for public viewing in the newest Philippine history museum.
The Presidential Car Museum, the 24th history museum managed by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), is found at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City and inaugurated on August 19 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of President Manuel L. Quezon’s, considered the father of Philippine national language.
The Presidential Car Museum houses 12 cars used by 13 Philippine presidents (Sergio Osmeña also used the car of his predecessor, Jose P. Laurel), marking an invaluable historic collection.
Ten of these classic and modern Presidential Cars of Philippine Presidents were earlier honored with new commemorative stamps released by the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) at the History Con 2018.
The NHCP project which reportedly started in 2008 has worked on bringing to life the cars which proudly and safely carried the nation’s presidents.
“The cars are testament to the dignity of the office of the highest elected official of the land, and are reflections of the personalities and preferences of the presidents who used them,” according to the NHCP report.
The presidential cars were restored to their original physical appearance, with the exception of the cars of President Sergio Osmeña’s, which is in Cebu and Carlos P. Garcia, which can no longer be recovered, according to Ryan Tan, Presidential Car Museum curator.
The new museum showcases the cars of the past presidents of the Philippines, showing not only the cars’ state-of-the-art features but also the history behind each car.
Popular UK television series Top Gear’s Philippine site featured the Presidential Car Museum in an article noting how the cars reflected not just the president’s personalities and preferences, but also the country’s state during under their leadership. TG writer Sharleen Banzon comments:
“Each state car thus also represents the political, economic, and social climate during a president’s term, the global trends and the key developments in the automotive industry at the time, and even the threats to the president’s security.”
Here is the list of the 12 Presidential Cars found at the Presidential Car Museum with description excerpts curated by Top Gear Ph and digital photos from GMA News:
1924 Packard Single 6 233 Series (Emilio Aguinaldo)
“With wood and vinyl interiors, it was one of the earliest American vehicles to be exported and a popular choice for state vehicles. The Russian imperial family once owned a similar model.”
1937 Chrysler Airflow Custom Imperial CW (Manuel L. Quezon)
“The Airflow was a rare sight on the road during its time because only 30,000 units were sold throughout the four years it was in production.”
1942 Packard Custom Super Eight One-Eighty Limousine (Jose P. Laurel and Sergio Osmeña)
“A glass partition is also featured which could be lowered if the president liked to drive the car himself.”
1947 Cadillac Series 75 Limousine (Manuel Roxas)
“This model could be acquired with body made by either Fisher or Fleetwood. The government chose the Fleetwood body, which could be customized according to the buyer’s specifications.”
1953 Chrysler Crown Imperial Limousine (Elpidio Quirino)
“It was one of the first vehicles to offer power-assisted disc brakes and a 12-volt electrical system.”
1955 Cadillac Series 75-23 (Ramon Magsaysay)
“President Magsaysay still used Quirino’s Crown Imperial. However, the government purchased a Cadillac Series 75-23. It was a supplementary vehicle until the first term of President Ferdinand Marcos.”
1959 Cadillac DeVille (Diosdado Macapagal)
“There are just around 20,000 of these cars worldwide and less than 100 units were officially earmarked for export.”
1980 Lincoln Continental Mark VI Signature Series (Ferdinand E. Marcos)
“Even in the 1980s, this vehicle had high-tech features such as keyless entry, and a digital gauge cluster with a trip computer that indicated ‘miles to empty’ and ‘estimated time of arrival.'”
1986 Mercedes-Benz 500EL (Corazon C. Aquino)
“It is the first state car to feature bulletproof panels and glass windows measuring two inches in thickness.”
1986 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL Guard (Fidel V. Ramos)
“It has exclusive features like a special switchboard that houses controls for lights and sirens, as well as a button for control modules and fuses, and thinner bulletproof panels.”
1993 Mercedes-Benz S600 (Joseph Ejercito Estrada)
“It features protection from explosives, a self-sealing fuel tank, and an alarm system. At the back, a television and telephone are installed.”
1993 Mercedes-Benz S600 Limousine V140 (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo)
“Made by O’Gara and Hess, the limousine is heavily armored. It also has run-flat tires and engine block protection against sniper fire.”
The NHCP report says the presidential car of Carlos P. Garcia is not in the collection because it was never recovered. The presidential vehicle of Benigno Aquino II is still in use. Diosdado Macapagal’s car on display is not the actual unit used by the president.
There 4 more vehicles in the museum collection included for their historic value:
- 1934 Cadillac V-16 Transformable Town Cabriolet assigned to General Douglas MacArthur
- Kalesa belonging to the family of Leon Apacible, one of the authors and signatories of the 1899 Malolos Constitution
- 1943 Willys Jeep that served as the service vehicle of Ramon Magsaysay when he was Elpidio Quirino’s Secretary of National Defense
- 1960 Rolls-Royce Phantom V used by former First Lady Imelda Marcos
The Presidential Car Museum at the Quezon Memorial Circle along Elliptical Road in Quezon City is free admission and open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 8:00am-4:00pm