Philippine Presidential Cars On Display | History Con Manila

Ever wondered what our Philippine Presidents used to travel from point A to B during their terms? Do they also have a version of the United States Presidential car called "The Beast"? 

When I was younger, we had a tour at the Fort Santiago which is located in Intramuros, Manila. Part of the Museum exhibit were the Presidential cars of the past Presidents of the Philippines. I vaguely remember seeing them on display. I couldn't remember how many cars were there but I do recall that they were all black and big.

Presidential Cars of Aguinaldo, Laurel and Magsaysay
I've been to Fort Santiago several times through the years and I never again saw the cars. At the time, I thought they were neglected and disposed of. And during the first History Con in August at the World Trade Center, I was surprised to find that the National Historical Institute has maintained and restored them to mint condition. They're now at a storage facility awaiting their transfer to the Quezon Circle Museum in Quezon City. The transfer will occur in 2017.

I'm not a car enthusiast, I don't even drive but I do appreciate the look and feel of Vintage cars. And the Presidential cars that were showcased during the event were owned and ridden by Presidents Aguinaldo, Laurel and Magsaysay. They weren't just ordinary cars used for every day tasks. They were vessels of Philippine History.

What's the significance of old automobiles to our History? What stories could they tell us about the people who were leading us during these years?

There were speculation that if the 1940s Buick sedan that former First Lady Aurora Quezon was riding on during her fateful trip to Baler had air-conditioning, she might have survived the ambush since her car would be in the middle of the convoy and not in front to avoid the dusty trail of her military escorts.

The luxury cars themselves were symbols of the growing emergence and significance of the new form of transportation. The choice of car brands of our Presidents reflect the relationship that we had with the United States. All three cars were American-made and imported from them.

Emilio Aguinaldo's roaring 1920's ride

It was the decade of decadence and liberation. It was right after the first World War and most world economies were on the rise especially the United States.

"Ask the man who owns me", was the slogan of the Packard Motor Company  founded by brothers, James and William Packard with their business partner George Lewis Weiss. The company started building automobiles in 1899.

The 1924 Packard Single Six 226 of President Aguinaldo might not have been used during his term of office during the turn of the century but he was still a political figure years after. President Aguinaldo owned the Packard during his retirement in Cavite. This Packard luxury model could have cost more than $2,000 during that period. It was the preferred choice of Royalty and Heads of State. The car could fit seven passengers and have upholstered leather for seats. 




World War II and Jose P. Laurel

After the fall of Bataan and the Japanese invasion, Jose P. Laurel was instilled as the President of the Wartime government from 1943-1945.

The Japanese was at war with the united States but it didn't stop President Laurel from driving around the country in a Packard Custom Super Eight One-Eighty touring sedan. Considered as the most exclusive marque of the series, it featured the first "power windows". It also had upholstered leather seats and carpeted flooring. The Packard 180 had a powerful eight-cylinder engine that has a speed of 160.





Ramon Magsaysay and his Cadillac

What do the movie the Godfather, Chiang Kai-Shek and Ramon Magsaysay have in common? They patronized the Cadillac sedan which was considered a mainstream luxury car. 

President Magsaysay's was the Fleetwood Series 75 that was a 7-seater sedan with an eight-cylinder engine (250 horsepower engine). It also had Hydramatic automatic transmission for easier gear shifting. Chrome was king for Cadillac as seen in its body work. Grille and headlights were the prominent highlights of the series.


 


Wouldn't it be great if we could also see the other Presidential cars that were used by our past Presidents? We could learn what was popular during their time and what sort of improvements or enhancements were added to ensure the safety and protection of the presidents.

Comments