Feature Story

HISTORY: CARS WITH PRESIDENT'S NAMES

by Bob Hagin

July 19, 1996

Attention students. Today our history class will review American presidents who had or have the same names as the cars we have been studying. I'm sure you all remember the names of the autos so we'll now match them up with those of our former top-level politicians and a capsulation of the cars of the same names:

WASHINGTON - The car that bore the name of The Father of His Country didn't last any longer than his term in office. Made in Middleton and Easton, Ohio from '21 to '24, it was an "assembled" car (put together from parts made by other companies) and only 35 Washingtons were built.

ADAMS - There were two presidents named Adams (#2, John and #6, John Quincy - father and son) and two Adams cars. The Adams Model C was built in Findlay, Ohio only in 1911 by the Adams brothers, but the Adams- Farwell was made in Dubuque, Iowa for nine years, from 1904 to 1913.

MADISON - James Madison was Number 4 and The Father of the Constitution, we're told. His namesake, another assembled car, came from Anderson, Indiana circa 1915 to 1918 and the 1916 version packed a V8. There was even a two-seater with a cutesy name, the "Dolly" Madison.

MONROE - Surely you remember the doctrine put forth by our fifth president, James Monroe, in 1823. No? Oh well. His name was put on cars built by several different succeeding outfits in Flint, Michigan and Indianapolis (corporate takeovers were common then too). It lasted ten years until the Monroe passed into history in 1924.

JACKSON - Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson was Number Seven and as an interesting historical side note, married a lady while she was still technically married to someone else. The Jackson was built in Jackson, Michigan and lasted a relatively long period - from 1903 to 1923 - and its last model could have been a musical group. It was The Jackson Six.

HARRISON - There were two Harrison presidents, too. William was Number Nine and died of pneumonia after a month in office. His grandson, Benjamin, was Number 23 and lasted longer. Made in Grand Rapids, Michigan from '05 to 07, the Harrison auto's claim to fame was that its self-starter consisted of acetylene shot into the cylinders and ignited by a jiggled spark control lever.

TAYLOR - Zackery Taylor became our 12th chief executive in 1849 while the Taylor-Dunn electric shopper was made 100 years later in Anaheim, California.

PIERCE - Franklin Pierce was our forgettable 14th president but who can forget the majestic Pierce-Arrow of the turbulent '30s. It rivaled Rolls-Royce and lasted 37 years until 1938, killed by The Depression. In its shadow was the Pierce-Racine built in Racine, Wisconsin from 1904 to 1909.

LINCOLN - It's still around and was so named by its originator, Henry Leland, because he voted for Honest Abe (#16) in the election of 1861. Leland was an old guy when he started the Lincoln line in 1920.

JOHNSON - There were two Johnsons: Andrew was Number 17 and we all remember Lyndon who was number 36. The Johnson was built in Milwaukee from '05 to '07 as a steamer, then to '12 as a gas-fueled commercial vehicle.

CLEVELAND - Grover Cleveland was President Numbers 22 and 24, and the only man ever elected to non-consecutive terms. There were four different Cleveland cars (made in Cleveland, of course) from '02 to '26.

ROOSEVELT - Theodore and Franklin were second cousins and Presidents Number 26 and 32. The Roosevelt car was really a cheap Marmon, made from '29 to '31 in Indianapolis and named after Teddy, the old Rough Rider.

HARDING - Warren Harding (#29) died after three years in office, just in time to avoid the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal. Only one Harding was ever made in Cleveland, a 1915 seven-seater, 12 cylinder monster.

KENNEDY - Jack Kennedy of Camelot fame, was the 35th man in the White House and the details are still painful. The Kennedy car was a tiny coupe built in Los Angeles from 1915 to 1918.

FORD - As President Number 38, Gerald Ford once said "...I'm a Ford, not a Lincoln." Truer words were never spoken.

CARTER - Peanut Farmer Jimmy Carter sat in the Oval Office as head man #39. The Carter Twin-Engine was made in Hyattsville, Maryland from 1907 to 1909 and in an attempt at utter reliability, featured two entirely separate engines that could be run independently. It flopped.

BUSH - George Bush, was Number 41 in the presidential lineup. The Bush automobile was actually made by several other car makers from 1916 to 1925 and sold by mail order out of an office in Chicago.

So you see, class, history can be easy if you learn it by association. Now if we could just find something interesting about the other presidents whose names escape me.

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