In 1986 in Little Rock, Ark., Hillary Rodham Clinton did something she would never do again: She bought a car. It was, to be exact, a 1986 blue Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, a mid-size car with four doors and a plush interior. Clinton needed a car to get around as a member of Little Rock’s Rose Law Firm, and when the Clintons moved into the White House six years later, the Oldsmobile came with them.
Eight years later, as the Clintons were preparing to depart the White House, they decided it was time to sell. The Oldsmobile had spent its residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue mostly parked on the south grounds and occasionally being driven by members of the maintenance staff as they swept the roads, and moved to the north grounds as needed for events. Mike Lawn, then gardener foreman at the White House, recalls seeing a teenage Chelsea Clinton driving the car once or twice, also solely on White House grounds.
“There was no other car for her to drive,” Lawn says. “They wouldn’t have let her drive the Secret Service cars.”
Having a car at the White House at all was an oddity. Lawn, a 29-year veteran of the White House, says, “I was there from the Carters to the last Bushes, and I never saw another president bring a car. There are some staff who have been there 50 to 60 years, and they had never seen it either.”
Thanks to the Former Presidents Act of 1958, after leaving office the Clintons would remain under the protection of the Secret Service, and thus would no longer need the car.
They put the Oldsmobile up for a closed-bid auction among the 90 to 95 members of the White House staff. It sold for $2,000 to the highest bidder: Mike Lawn.
Lawn had originally intended the car to be driven by his teenage daughter. But, as Lawn says, “It was a four-door, fourteen years old, and [my daughter] had never seen [window] cranks before. … She called it ‘an old lady’s car.’ As a teenager you want to look cool.”
Over the following 16 years the Oldsmobile sat in the Lawns’ garage in Silver Spring, Md., before Lawn retired in 2008 and the Lawns moved it to their new residence in Gettysburg, Pa. At one point Mike’s wife, Joyce, contacted the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., to see if it would want the car, but as it had not officially belonged to a president, they declined — although Lawn says they would have taken it by donation.
Now Lawn is selling. According to Gettysburg’s Evening Sun, the insurance company Hagerty values similar models at around $8700 dollars, but that doesn’t account for the fact that it was owned by the former first lady and current front-runner for the Democratic nomination. It is Hillary Clinton’s last car, a car that she drove around Little Rock, in which she left her sunglasses when she sold it. It still has her name on the title, about 33,000 miles, and eight years of experience at the White House.
Lawn currently has the car out for bid, and estimates that he’ll have it out for about a week. He won’t reveal the top bidder so far, except to say, “I have a number in my mind.” Otherwise Lawn is close-mouthed about his time at the White House.
As for Hillary Clinton, she revealed in 2014 to the National Auto Dealers Association Convention that she hasn’t been behind the wheel of any car since 1996. “I remember it very well,” she said, “and unfortunately so does the Secret Service, which is why I haven’t driven since then.”