Article By: Adrian John Ladaga.
Today is the 117th Independence Day of the Philippines, and in more than a century of being a free nation, we dig up some of the most important pieces of history. We focused our research on the cars that were used by current and previous presidents as they offer a gateway to the lives and duties of the busy and well-travelled heads of our state.
These presidential cars have served as official carriers of the nation’s top leaders, and have witnessed some of the most critical events in the country’s history. The president’s car must not only keep its VIP passenger safe, but also exude grandeur and authority. After all, it works as an extension of the powers and responsibility of the person inside.
11 Historic Philippine Presidential Cars We Love
11. Emilio Aguinaldo – 1924 Single Six Packard Model 226
After more than 300 years of being under the control of Spain, Emilio Aguinaldo was officially recognized as the president of the first republic. He had a short term from 1899 to 1901 during which he did not have an official presidential car. Aguinaldo, however, owned a 1924 Single Six Packard Model 226, a seven-seater limousine. It runs on a 4.3-Liter engine that provides 55 horsepower and was restored by the Vintage Car Club of the Philippines and the Philippine Motor Association. The car is on display at Aguinaldo’s mansion in Kawit, Cavite.
10. Pres. Manuel Luis Quezon – 1937 Chrysler Airflow
The second president of the Philippines who served under the Commonwealth government used a 1937 Chrysler Airflow. It was one of the first full-sized car to use streamlining design to make it less susceptible to air resistance. The Airflow limousine used by Quezon was three meters wide, five feet tall and could seat six people. It was restored to running condition during the 400th anniversary of Baler (his hometown) and Quezon’s 131st birthday on August 19, 2009. The total cost to restore the presidential car amounted to PHP 1.6 million. Quezon also has a Lincoln V12, which was a gift from automotive industry icon Henry Ford.
9. Jose P. Laurel – 1942 Packard 180 limousine
Laurel was the president during the Japanese occupation and one could simply imagine what roads this car may have driven during World War II. Packard advertised it during the 1940 as having the most powerful eight cylinder engine – a 5.8-Liter powertrain that produces 160 horsepower. The Packard 180 model was also the first car to incorporate power windows. Its luxury car manufacturer, Packard assembly line, stopped this car’s production in February 1942 as the war brought a halt to civilian automobile production in the United States.
8. Sergio Osmeña – 1941 Cadillac Series 61
Osmeña succeeded Quezon after the latter’s death in 1944 and served as the country’s fourth president in the next two years. His official ride was the luxury car Cadillac Series 61 which has a front engine, rear wheel drive layout and a fastback design. This car is 5.46 meters long and has a wheelbase of 3.2 meters. Back then, people didn’t need to worry about congested roads, so long cars were the norm.
7. Pres. Manuel Roxas – 1940 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 limousine
Roxas served as the first president since the Philippines gained its independence after World War II. He rides a Cadillac Fleetwood 75 limousine which was specially imported just for his inauguration on July 4, 1946, which also marked our independence from America. The Fleetwood 75 is powered by a 5.6-Liter V8 powerplant which can produce 135 horsepower. This car has a wheelbase of 3.58 meters.
6. Pres. Elpidio Quirino – 1953 Chrysler Imperial Limousine
A lawyer by profession, Elpidio Quirino served as the sixth president of the country when then incumbent President Manuel Roxas died in 1948. His preferred car was the Chrysler Imperial Limousine which was dubbed as the company’s top of the line car during the day. Restored by Alfred Motorworks, this car was displayed during the 6th Manila Auto Saloon 2012.
5. Ramon Magsaysay – 1945 Cadillac Fisher Fleetwood Series 75
Magsaysay is almost synonymous as the people’s president and was very popular among the masses. He defeated Quirino during the 1953 election. His choice of ride was the Cadillac Fisher Fleetwood Series 75 which features General Motor’s prewar “Turret Top” styling. This car is distinguishable from its predecessors by its identification scripting and revised emblems. This seven-seater limo has a 5.7-Liter V8 powertrain rated at 150 horsepower.
4. Carlos P. Garcia – No Records
Garcia served as the 8th president of the country after Magsaysay died in an unexpected plane crash. We found no records of what his presidential car was during his reign. He might also have used the same Cadillac that Magsaysay drove.
3. Diosdado Macapagal – 1957 Ford sedan
In an old newspaper clipping, it was mentioned that Diosdado Macapagal choose to use a 1957 Ford sedan instead of the two Cadillacs from his predecessors. While, the newspaper did not mention which model, we could assume it was the Ford Country, a station wagon which can seat up to nine people.
2. Ferdinand Marcos – Mercedes-Benz 600 limousine
Marcos served as the country’s president for 21 years, from 1965 to 1986. During this two decade rule, he was reported to have used numerous presidential cars. But one of the standouts was the Mercedes Benz 600 limousine (Marcos owns four 600s including a Landaulet), which was the first bullet proof vehicle used by the Philippines’ head of state. Its highly customizable and very imposing. Its long-wheelbase variant is almost 21 feet long and can weigh about 4 tons. From 1963 to 1981, Mercedes produced only 2,677 600s.
1. Corazon C. Aquino – Mercedes-Benz W124 sedan
Cory Aquino replaced Marcos, when the latter was ousted after the People Power Revolution of 1986. Her preferred presidential car was the government issued Mercedes Benz W124 sedan, which is a version of the E Class. Aquino is also known to have a white Toyota Crown, which she used when she turned her presidency to Ramos.
** Not included in these articles are the cars of former presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and current president Benigno “Noyny” Aquino III.
Article By: Adrian John Ladaga.