1938 Cadillac V16 Limousine Town Car. This Cadillac was commissioned to the Vatican Motor Pool. A Cardinal and Pope Pius XII used the car on many occasions. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bulgari.   Photo courtesy of Nicola Bulgari.
Jacksonville, FL -  A dignified fleet of exceptional cars is poised to occupy the lawn of the 24 th  annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. The cars of the Heads of State class are as eclectic as the men and women who used them for transport, as a throne room or refuge, and sometimes as a badge of rank.
When “the Duchess” appeared in front of the Waldorf Astoria in the 1940s the custom built, one-of-a-kind Cadillac signaled to the Manhattan crowds that the king who gave up the throne of England and the woman for whom he surrendered the crown were going out on the town in style: Cadillac style. 
Their 1941 Cadillac was America’s ultimate luxury car. GM Chairman Alfred Sloan told his styling Chief Harley Earl to build Edward VIII a very special car..  And he did. Like most Earl designs it was one of a kind and over the top inside and out. It was quickly nicknamed “The Duchess” for Wallis Simpson the American divorcee who turned England’s constitution inside out marrying Edward VIII.
The 1941 Cadillac Custom Limousine known as "The Duchess." Photo courtesy of Steven Plunkett.
Pope Pius XII also became an orthodox Cadillac man through a gracious act of friendship and charity. The 1938 Cadillac-Fleetwood V-16 town car was originally delivered to the owner’s home at The Ritz Hotel in Paris. After the war it was donated to an American Cardinal who was authorized to use a parking spot in the Vatican garage. Even in Rome the V-16 Fleetwood must have seemed an alarming, if stately, leviathan. It is currently part of Nicola Bulgari’s exquisite collection of American classics and will make its Amelia Concours debut on March 10, 2019
Decades later Cadillac also provided Pope John Paul II with a custom De Ville parade car for his 1998 visit to Mexico (during the 20 th  anniversary of his papacy). He never got to use it. After the 1981 attempt on his life in St. Peter’s Square, mounting security concerns ended the plan to have the Pope greet Mexico’s faithful from the back of the custom 1998 DeVille.
1956 Cadillac Series 75. Built for use by President Eisenhower in 1956. It was also used by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Photo courtesy of Harry Yeaggy.
Franklin Roosevelt rode to the first of four inaugurations in a 1932 Packard. The Detroit firm provided the basis for many VIP transports in the years between the wars including the 1934 1104 Touring that will visit Amelia in 2019 from the Packard Museum in Dayton, Ohio. It was often the VIP transport of Admirals Halsey and Nimitz and was a particular favorite of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower who appreciated the Packard’s traditional pre-war styling, often choosing it for his formal duties, even after WWII was won. At the end of his first term, Ike used two identical “White House Security Cars”, both were 1956 Cadillac Series 75 “Parade Cars.”
Marshall Tito broke with Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin and became President For Life of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (and the acknowledged leader of the Non Aligned Nations) in 1953.  Stalin -- a confirmed Packard man -- tried to have Tito assassinated more than once. Tito’s nine-passenger 1960 Cadillac Series 75 showed that he was amenable to certain types of “capitalist decadence.”
A 345 hp 390 V-8, a refrigerator, automatic transmission, electric windows (including the internal front/rear window divider), an automatic electric/hydraulic convertible top and even a portable electric shaver were part of the huge Cadillac’s “Tito Décor Group”. The long Cadillac was magnificent four-wheel executive transport -- and an insult to the Soviets -- for Yugoslavia’s “benign dictator.”
“The Amelia’s Heads of State class is an eclectic group built for a rarefied demographic,” said Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance founder and Chairman Bill Warner. “Two ‘Pope-mobiles’, Cadillac’s no-limits factory custom for a self-defrocked king, Ike’s 1956 Parade Caddy and an over-the-top capitalist limo for a rebellious communist dictator who had a strong taste for big, powerful American cars.
“The Heads of State class is at the other end of the celebrity spectrum from this year’s ‘Cars of the Rock Stars’ class,” said Warner.
Tickets for the 24th Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance are available online.

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About The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance
THE AMELIA will be held March 7-10, 2019 at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and The Golf Club of Amelia Island. For the Amelia’s full events schedule, including Saturday’s Cars & Coffee at the Concours and Sunday’s premier Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, visit . The show’s Foundation has donated over $3.45 million to Community Hospice & Palliative Care and other charities on Florida’s First Coast since its inception in 1996.

The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance| 904-636-0027 | E-mail | Website