Joe Biden and Beyond: The 7 Politicians Who Actually Love Cars
Whose 1974 VW Thing is parked outside the Capitol?
Somewhere out there, among America’s sprawl of tilled fields, town halls and hay-strewn barns, a presidential primary is happening. And, whether you’re Team Donkey or Elephant, there’s little debate that this nomination process has been one of the most absurd, divisive contests in decades. But let's let the POTUS hopefuls harangue each other over foreign policy, big, beautiful border walls and furtive email servers, because there are more exciting issues at hand: which legislators are pro-gearhead? What senators like vulcanized smell of a ripping burnout? Which congressman drives to fundraisers in a Model T? The bipartisan crop assembled below comprises the best of the government grease monkeys. Four! More! Gears!
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL)
Posey’s part of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, tasked with keeping legislation from unduly taxing automotive enthusiasts. Posey began racing motorcycles at age of 13 by sneaking into heats, only to be stopped a few laps in when they discovered he was underage. The bug had bitten, though, and he’s since owned north of 20 racers, competed in stock car series and built plenty of sleepers for street use. Above all, Posey enjoys snapping up fiberglass bodies from 1930s saloons and dropping in Chevy big blocks.
Though Posey once had a 1963 Corvette formerly owned by NASA astronaut Gus Grissom, his current darling is a pewter 1966 Chevelle Malibu that needed heaps of love after purchase. “If I hit the slightest bump on the highway, it would porpoise for miles,” he told reporters. He replaced the 283 three-speed powerplant with a high performance 350 and overhauled the rest of the ride. Posey also owns a 2005 GMC 1/2 ton and a 2003 Mercury Marauder. (You’ve got to respect a man who respects Ford’s Panther platform.) Recently, Posey introduced a bill to prevent the EPA from regulating street cars that have been modded into race cars.
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT)
This former Navy SEAL Team Six member is no stranger to SEMA shows and is quick to list his restored 1938 Cadillac Series 65 among his most beloved possessions. Before he hit the Hill as Montana’s sole representative, Zinke served in the state's senate, where he was an integral member of the State Automotive Enthusiast and Leadership Caucus. In D.C., Zinke occupies a seat on the House Natural Resources Committee, which regulates, in part, land-use and off-road issues. Zinke’s been a proponent of continuing access to federal lands for responsible off-roaders and sportsmen. Just walk out for elk, guys.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
Two decades ago, Burr thought it would be a capital idea to purchase a 1974 Volkswagen Thing. Time has not been kind to his investment: There are dents in the body abound, the floorboards have rusted through, and the seats are so shredded, Burr sits atop a pillow while his passenger perches atop a camouflage seat cover seemingly yanked from a hunting blind. Errant wires dangle dangerously from the dash. Recently, when the accelerator cable snapped, he mended the line himself before motoring around the Hill, beaming. This tattered German jalopy is Burr’s pride and joy, making regular appearances on his social feeds with the tag “#LongLiveTheThing.” Bemoan his rolling trash heap if you must, but respect the man's dedication to a dying beast. Besides, Burr redeems himself with a 1936 Dodge he’s in the midst of restoring.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)
Credit Tester, in part, for the resurrection of the DeLorean DMC-12. He’s responsible for a provision in the recently passed Highway Bill that relaxes rules for smaller auto manufacturers. Priorly, cumbersome regulations applied to all manufacturers, whether they produced one or one million cars per year. Lesser outfits, like the makers of the replica DeLorean, were once hamstrung—sometimes out of business—by stringent statutes. Tester, who owns a Willys CJ2A, a 1956 Buick, a Ford Model T and a 1955 Chevrolet stepside pickup, invited new DMC-12 owners to come test their coupes on Montana’s roads, joking, “I want to remind folks that the speed limit in Montana is 80 miles per hour, not 88." Those Big Sky country roads are about to gain a whole bunch of stainless steel. Also included in the Highway Bill? A $2.3 billion cash infusion for the state’s transportation infrastructure.
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA)
As co-chair of the House Congressional Automotive Caucus, it’s Kelly’s job help the auto industry grow beyond its current 3.5% share of our GDP. Luckily, Kelly knows a thing or two about selling cars. After taking over the Chevrolet-Cadillac dealerships his father founded in the 1950s, the lots flourished and soon, Kelly added Hyundai and KIA franchises to the mix. Then in 2009, GM came calling. They rescinded Kelly’s Cadillac franchise as part of the Fed's downsizing strategy following that year's bailout. Kelly fought GM and prevailed, retaining his right to operate. Spurred by the victory, he set his sights on Congress and won there, too. His trusted daily driver? The Chevy pickup that he used to campaign with.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY)
The erstwhile teen tow truck driver—handle: “Queens 15”—has a deep appreciation for American muscle. (That may explain how he doesn’t know what a Ferrari looks like.) When working through a complex issue like balancing New York's budget, he’s rumored to take a wrench to one of his fleet—a C3 Corvette and a 1968 Pontiac GTO convertible, among others—to allow a solution to present itself. His passion for Pontiacs, Fords and Chevys of the disco era was born during his tow days, when his native Queens nabe was flush with those chromed horses. Per aNew York Times interview, he’s restored a 1969 Mercury Cougar, a 1973 Chevy Camaro and a 1969 Chevy El Camino. (The latter’s engine exploded in a shower of bits and bolts on the roadside a few years back.) This month, Cuomo drew flak from both sides of the state legislature when he proposed slicing Thruway tolls by up to 50% for a $340 million tax credit to nearly a million frequent users of the 500-mile highway.
Vice President Joe Biden
Our Veep is the ultimate car dude. He's the guy so irked by the Secret Service's driving prohibition that he did burnouts in a Caddy CTS-V in his driveway. Hell, yes. As a kid, Biden’s father managed Delaware car dealerships, allowing him more access to prime wheels than most. After borrowing a Chrysler 300D for his prom, Biden purchased a 1956 Chevy, then a Mercedes-Benz 190SL. Famously, Biden still owns his 1967 Goodwood-Green Corvette, a 327-powered bullet that his children recently had properly restored as a gift. (Since, Biden terms it “a quarter horse.”) His dream machine? A Corvette Z06. “It can track on a curve. It has more weight in the back for the first time. Tach that sucker up to six grand and it comes out of the hole like a bullet, man,” said the Vice President of the United States of America. Someone get this incredible man a Stingray. Stat.
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