Cars of World War II Leaders - Spirit of Speed

Cars of World War II Leaders - Spirit of Speed

During the Second World War, world leaders and generals require a way of transportation and often those have high incomes would have a collection of cars that they could use.

Often these cars are installed with defense mechanisms such as bulletproof windows and armored sides to protect them, their driver, and their passengers. Most of these cars today would cost a huge fortune due to their historical connection to these leaders or the history of the car itself.

Joseph Stalin was a character that needed to be driven around. The ZIS-115 is a Soviet-built armored version of the ZIS-110 limousine made specifically for Stalin. Only thirty-two were built from 1948 - 1949. The design was based on the American 1942 Packard Super Eight.

  • Stalin was a bit paranoid of assassination due to the crimes that he committed while ruling the Soviet Union and so he often sits at the back with two armed bodyguards. Further guarding him were windows made of bulletproof glass nearly three inches thick that had to be lowered using a hydraulic system.
  • He never rode in the same armored ZIS two days in a row and often changed the route driven from his home in Kuntsevo to the Kremlin by telling the driver as they were on the road.
  • This was the car that was used during wartime and is seen in many photos especially when Stalin was participating in the conferences in Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam. Although Stalin switched to the new Soviet-built car in 1947, he never did give up on his beloved Packard 12 as it continued to remain his favorite. 
  • Going back in time a bit further, Stalin was a close friend to Lenin as Soviet accounts would report. Russia at that time was engulfed in a Civil War caused by the overthrowing of the monarchy and the new republican government's failure to maintain stability.
  • Ultimately, it was the Bolsheviks that took the power to rule Russia with Lenin as its leader. Vladimir  Lenin make use of two of the Delaunay-Belleville limousines which were acquired prior by the Provisional Government under Alexander Kerensky who had obtained them from the previous Tsarist Government. One of the limousines was destroyed during a failed assassination attempt and the second one was stolen on January 6, 1919, by the Kuznetsov's Gang who did not even realize that they were robbing Lenin despite the leader showing his identification. Lenin later switched to a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost limousine which was confiscated from a Russian business tycoon. The Soviet government later bought several with Lenin officially presented with one and used it as his car from 1923 onwards.

Bernard Montgomery or "Monty", as he was famously known, was a senior British Army officer during the Second World War. He is famous for his tactical actions against Erwin Rommel in the desert campaign in Africa where he commanded the British Eighth Army from August 1942. Subsequently, he went on to lead the British Eighth Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily and the Allied invasion of Italy before becoming commander of all Allied ground forces during the Normandy campaign. 

  • He has driven around in a 1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III which was an eight-generation Phantom design that he bought from Frederick Wilcock, the CEO of Talbot Motor Company at the time.
  • The 1936 Rolls-Royce has a special aerodynamic bodywork commissioned by Alan Samuel Butler and uses an aluminum-alloy 7338 cc V12 which gives a top speed of 87½ mph with average fuel consumption of 28 liters per 100 kilometers. Petrol is supplied by a twin SU electric pump that powered its twin ignition systems.
  • The car also has an on-board jacking and a one-shot chassis lubrication system that could be operated via the driver's compartment. The car has a 4-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on gears 2, 3, and 4.
  • In 1938, an overdrive gearbox was installed for subsequent models. The V-12 Phantom III was liked by the general as it was able to travel an incredible 340,000 miles which allowed the car to travel quickly for his trips between 10 Downing Street, the head War Office, and countryside vacation retreats.
  • Often Montgomery would be accompanied by other renowned Allied leaders of the Second World War such as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, America's General Dwight Eisenhower, and King George VI.
  • Following the conclusion of D-Day, the automobile was reassigned to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army Air Force, General Carl Spaatz before it was sold to a Malaysian planter from Penang in the 1950s.
  • The history of the car from that point onwards remains unknown and it is assumed that it exchanged hands between several car collectors before it resurfaced, with actual paperwork regarding the war, at an anniversary celebration of D-Day in 2014.

It is known that Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery did not get along with United States General George S. Patton as they often argued. Their arguments have been recounted many times in books and on the silver screen. 

From Truck Encyclopedia

George S. Patton was a general renowned for commanding the Seventh United States Army and the Third United States Army during the Second World War. He is a very controversial man due to his anti-Russian and antisemitic sentiments particularly being antagonistic to the Soviet Union. However, he has been praised as a great general with Eisenhower stating: "George Patton was the most brilliant commander of an Army in the open field that our or any other service produced. But his army was part of a whole organization and his operations part of a great campaign."

He was a seasoned soldier. Earlier in his life, he attended the Virginia Military Institute and the United States Military Academy at West Point before seeing his first combat action during the Pancho Villa Expedition of 1916. During the First World War, he was part of the newly established United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces, and following the war’s end, he would play a pivotal role in developing tank doctrines for warfare. When the United States entered the Second World War after the Pearl Harbour attack by the Japanese, he commanded the 2nd Armoured Division.

While commanding, Patton would use a modified Dodge WC 57, often nicknamed “Beeps”, for transportation.

  • This WC-57 equipped with armor plating, sirens, and horns was used by the Third Army's headquarters as a motor pool car. Powered by a torque-rich six-cylinder engine, it could move along well around Europe and can be equipped with a Browning machine gun if there is ever a chance that the General would face an enemy. Unlike most Generals at that time who would drive around in their enemies’ captured automobiles, Patton would stick to military hardware although a bit modified for his protection. 
  • However, this car was not used in his last moments. On December 9th, 1945, he has driven around in a luxurious 1938 Cadillac limousine when invited for a hunting trip by Major General Hobart Gay. This car was designed by Nicholas Dreystadt and first debuted in 1936 to compete with the Packard Six. The United States Army did use some during the war for the transportation of their generals. However, this would prove to be Patton’s last ride.
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Author: M.A Amru
Writer of First under heaven & A Song For Zenith
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