Automobiles of Authority: Visiting the Presidential Car Museum

Quezon City

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines has been on the roll these past few years. During that time, it has successfully transformed its museums from boring relics to interactive showcases, making them fun, educational landmarks worth visiting even more. A tour these days of the Rizal Shrine in Intramuros, Museo ng Katipunan in San Juan, and the Quezon Memorial Shrine Museum in Quezon City are just a few examples of the splendid work the NHCP has done.

At the same time, the NHCP has been busy conceptualizing new museums as well, one of which just opened last Sunday, August 19 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of President Manuel Quezon. The museum is not really one related to Quezon though but is related to the office he occupied. Yup, it was another presidential museum, but not just any museum though. This is the Presidential Car Museum, located right at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

Placed between the Quezon Heritage House and the QCX, the Presidential Car Museum, as the name implies, is a museum dedicated to the vehicles once used by the highest official of the country. Here, one can find almost all the vehicles used by the different presidents from Aguinaldo to Arroyo, as well as a few prominent personalities in history. Though technically, Quezon was the first president to have a presidential car beginning with a Cadillac V-16 before shifting to a Chrysler Airflow model (Quezon would eventually gift the Cadillac to his friend Gen. Douglas MacArthur).

Emilio Aguinaldo’s 1924 Packard Single Six

The museum itself is laid out like what you would see in a car dealership, as it should be. The space is wide and the vehicles are arranged in a logical (chronological) manner. Sadly, you can’t see the interiors so you’re only left to appreciate the exteriors of these vehicles. And even so, you can’t get to appreciate the exteriors in a 360 degree view.

Like a car dealership, each of the cars displayed at the Presidential Car Museum has its own spec sheet as well as the history of the car’s usage as well as its features. Being presidential cars, all of them boast heavy security features that fit the security needs of their prominent passengers. The museum is a showcase of political, automobile, and auto security history in one.

Some other interesting vehicles on display include a 1942 Packard Super Eight used both by Presidents Jose Laurel and Sergio Osmeña, a gift to Laurel by the Japanese Imperial Government that Osmeña continued to use as part of the postwar austerity measure. There’s also Ramon Magsaysay’s 1955 Cadillac 75 and 1943 Willys Jeep that he used as Secretary of Defense. Then there are the Marcos cars: President Ferdinand Marcos used a 1980 Lincoln Continental Mark VI, the longest and most spacious presidential car on display which was a top-of-the-line car with keyless entry and trip computer features to boot. While his wife Imelda used a 1960 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, the same model used by the likes of Queen Elizabeth II and John Lennon.

One notable absence in the museum is the car used by President Carlos Garcia. Apparently the whereabouts of the vehicle could no longer be determined as the car is considered lost, sadly. It must also be noted that not all the cars used by the presidents are on display, like the previous presidential cars used by Marcos and possibly other presidents, as well as that of the Noynoy Aquino. One has to wonder if it will be his reported Lexus that could be put on display. And what would be Duterte’s car that will be put on display in the future? Would it be his Isuzu pick-up? Maybe the NHCP can try to acquire his Harley-Davidson motorcycle too?

The Presidential Car Museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 8 AM to 4 PM. It is a worthy addition to the Quezon Memorial Circle attractions/museums to visit that one should check out.

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