Today in 1913 was the birthday of Richard Nixon, 37th president of the United States – and the only one to go on a wild ride with the head of the Soviet Union.
This was back in 1973.
Nixon had invited Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev to the United States.
Among many other topics, they discussed ways they could reduce their missile stockpiles and try to lessen the risk of World War III.
Big diplomatic events are carefully arranged and organized, not only so the countries can make progress but also so they can show the world that they’re working together and enjoying each other’s company.
There are often exchanges of gifts at these kinds of summits.
Nixon’s people knew that Brezhnev loved foreign cars.
So they arranged for the president to give the premier a 1973 Lincoln Continental.
It was dark blue with fancy upholstery.
They even had the words “Special Good Wishes – Greetings” engraved on the dashboard.
When Nixon presents Brezhnev with the car at the president’s retreat, Camp David, the Soviet leader was delighted… maybe a little too delighted.
As Nixon remembered in his memoirs, Brezhnev didn’t just want to have the car, he wanted to drive it.
And he wanted Nixon along for the ride.
The two leaders pulled out in the Continental while the head of Nixon’s Secret Service detail went pale.
According to Nixon, Brezhnev approached a steep slope where a sign read “dangerous curve.”
He was going about 50 miles an hour at the time.
But he didn’t slow down; he raced right through and only slammed on the brakes at the bottom of the slope.
Both leaders were fine, though Nixon did realize something after his hair-raising drive with the head of the Soviet Union at the wheel.
“Diplomacy,” he wrote, is not always an easy art.”
During the Cold War, many countries built big underground bunkers for top leaders and other VIPs, just in case of The Bomb.
Next month in Denmark, they’re opening a museum on the site of REGAN Vest, the country’s Cold War bunker.
In addition to the guided tour, you can sign up to eat lunch in the bunker’s dining hall.
Or if you’d rather stay above ground, they’ve got lots of hiking trails.
Town Car Diplomacy – 40 Years Ago (Nixon Foundation)
Venture Into the Apocalypse at This Bunker-Turned-Museum in Europe (Thrillist)
It’s always a sweet ride when we’re with our backers on Patreon
Photo via Wikicommons