General Eisenhower’s World War II Staff Car

This 1942 Cadillac was used by General Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II and is now on display at the Eisenhower Presidential Museum, Library & Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas. It was first delivered to London in 1942 where Eisenhower was commanding U.S. troops and then went with the General to Paris where he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. This well-traveled Cadillac returned to Washington with Ike for his post-war tour of duty as Army Chief of Staff, and it was kept available for his use in New York when he served as president of Columbia University. This same car then went back to Europe when Ike returned to active duty as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

Eisenhower had reportedly tried to purchase the Caddy in 1948, but even this great general could not cut through all the bureaucratic red tape involved in making such a purchase from the U. S. Army. In 1957, anonymous friends purchased the historic vehicle at an army auction in Germany and gifted it to President Eisenhower at the White House. When he was surprised with it, newspapers reported that he responded with, “Oh, it’s my old command car, ” while smiling from ear to ear.

In 1957, this four-door Cadillac had 67,000 miles on it and a fresh coat of olive drab paint. It also had jump seats and a glass panel separating the front and rear areas.

A 2004 story from the Salina Journal describes some preservation efforts made necessary by the passage of time as well as years of being stored in a garage with the hot Kansas sunlight streaming in through many windows. At that time, steps were taken to clean and restitch the leather seats (using the existing holes) and to source and replace plastic parts like Bakelite knobs and some lenses. Some of the interior wood trim was also refinished.

This Cadillac is the very car that carried Eisenhower on the night of May 7, 1945, when he traveled to Reims and refused to meet with the Germans until they agreed to an unconditional surrender. If only this car could talk, the stories it could tell . . .

Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home