FDR Rode Al Capone’s Car to Deliver Pearl Harbor Speech-Fiction! & Disputed!


Summary of eRumor:


This is a forwarded email that alleged President Franklin D. Roosevelt was driven from the White House to Capitol Hill in a car owned by gangster Al Capone on the day the president delivered his famous Pearl Harbor speech.


The Truth:


Although the legend was reported to be true by a CBS News photo display with an article about the cars used by U.S. presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt was not driven to Congress in Al Capone’s car to deliver his Pearl Harbor speech.

As for the rest of this eRumor, we have classified as disputed.

A spokesperson at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library told the TruthOrFiction.com team that FDR did not ride in Al Capone’s car to deliver his speech on December 8, 1941. The spokesperson added that a retired member of the Secret Service, once assigned to protect President Roosevelt, wrote about the 1928 armored Cadillac Town Sedan that once belonged to Al Capone.

Michael F. Reilly, in his book, “Reilly of the White House,”  wrote that on the day after FDR delivered his famous “Day in Infamy” speech, the Treasury Department loaned him the car until a special armor-plated vehicle could be built by Ford to provide the president with safe transport during a time of war.

Michael Reilly and President Franklin D. Roosevelt

The TruthOrFiction.com team was contacted by an Al Capone historian who disputed our findings and provided us with links that document that Al Capone’s Cadillac was sold to a couple who worked in a travelling carnival show who later sold the car to a Mr. H. Nielson of Toronto who shipped the car to England in 1933. The car was displayed for all to see at an amusement park in London, England. Reuters reported the transaction in the clipping below:

We found that FDR was rarely seen in any car that was not a convertible. The eRumor that he once rode in Al Capone’s bullet and bomb proof Caddy may just be a myth.

Posted 10/21/13 Updated 07/21/14

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

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.