Hours after Pearl Harbor on December
7, 1941, the Secret Service found themselves in a bind. President
Franklin D. Roosevelt was to give his Day of Infamy speech to Congress
on Tuesday, and although the trip from the White House to Capitol Hill
was short, agents were not sure how to transport him safely. At the
time, Federal Law prohibited buying any cars that cost more than $750,
so they would have to get clearance from Congress to do that, and nobody
had time for that.
One of the Secret Service members,
however, discovered that the US Treasury had seized the bulletproof car
that mobster Al Capone owned when he was sent to jail in 1931. They
cleaned it, made sure it was running fine and had it ready for the
President the day after.
And run properly it did. Capone's car
was a sight to behold. It had been painted black and green so as to look
identical to Chicago's police cars at the time. It also had a specially
installed siren and flashing lights hidden behind the grille, along with
a police scanner radio.
To top it off, the gangsters 1928
Cadillac 341A Town Sedan had 3,000 pounds of armor and inch-thick
bulletproof windows. Mechanics are said to have cleaned and checked each
feature of the Caddy well into the night of December 7th to make sure
that it would run properly the next day for the Commander in Chief.