Peek inside FDR’s flathead V-12-powered, armored 1942 Lincoln

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Petersen Automotive Museum

In its latest video celebrating million-dollar cars, the Petersen Automotive Museum takes an in-depth look at President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s armored 1942 Lincoln, just in time for Presidents’ Day.

Petersen’s chief historian Leslie Kendall gives this tour from the museum’s Vault, where this Lincoln can usually be found surrounded by other cars that were used by various international heads of state. This armored limousine is significant because it’s the first presidential car delivered to the White House with armoring from the factory. Commissioned from Ford, the hulking V-12 sedan arrived with a number of safety measures installed, including steel plating on the floorboards, roof, and transmission tunnel. Even the flathead V-12 under the hood got an extra layer of protection. The glass—which, strangely, occupants could still roll down—is nine sheets thick.

Unsurprisingly, the overtaxed engine required heavy-duty cooling to cope with the added bulk. A pair of cowl vents straddle the normal intake that feeds the cabin, but they open in reverse, allowing heat to escape from the engine bay.

After WWII, the car was updated with post-war front-end styling from a 1946 model. The Lincoln also received a heavy-duty suspension, borrowed from a truck, that precluded it from using the fender skirts that it previously wore.

The Petersen Museum is currently closed, but it could be open as early as this spring. If you’d like to see the full range of cars on display and get the most of your trip, make sure you head to the Vault, where you can see this historic Lincoln, among many others.

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