The newest presidential limousine will be the second generation of a car with a name as heavy as its armor plating.
It may be called “The Beast,” but it has nothing to do with wild animals, movies, or comic strips. So, what is?
If you watched any of the recent presidential inauguration, you may have heard the Beast mentioned, especially when television cameras were focused on VIPs heading from one location to another.
In fact, it’s the nickname given to the presidential limousine dating back to the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first term. Later this year, a newer model of the presidential limo is to debut and replace a fleet of a dozen nearly identical vehicles that have been used since 2009. While you see many pictures of the presidential limo, not much is actually known about it. What IS known about it is impressive, especially if you are into cars.
There are reasons this specialized limo was given its nickname — for starters, its weight. The current Beast is believed to weigh somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds, or 11,000-16,000 pounds more than typical American cars. The next version should weigh about the same.
Car accidents involving a presidential limo are generally unheard of, but if one should happen, rest assured that the passengers in the limo will be much safer than riders in a regular vehicle.
History of Presidential Limousines
In 1909, President William Taft became the first president to make the transition from horse and carriage to automobile as a mode of transportation, with a White Automobile Model M Steamer, and then a Baker Electric, which was considered high-tech for its time (unlike most cars of that era, it didn’t require a hand crank to start, but rather relied on a battery). What was the top speed of the presidential limo? Try 14 mph!
When the 2017 version of the presidential limousine is introduced, it will be the eighth time in the past nine administrations that carmaker Cadillac has built the presidential vehicles.
The Next Generation
Autoweek reports that the next Beast is in its final testing phase and will follow the design and layout of a Cadillac Escalade sedan. The limo, which runs on a diesel engine connected to an automatic transmission, will comfortably hold seven passengers: Up front, the driver and the president’s lead Secret Service protective agent, and in back, the president and up to four more passengers.
Both the current Beast and the upcoming one are heavily armored. Plating on the limo is said to be 8 inches thick, with 5-inch-thick bullet-proof glass windows. A door weighs as much as a door on a Boeing 757 aircraft. Then there are the nearly bus-size Goodyear tires that are Kevlar-reinforced run-flats. These tires can keep the car moving for some distance if needed, even if the tires are penetrated.
Chemical attack? No problem. The interior is sealed from the outside world in case of a chemical attack, while the fuel tank is surrounded by a special foam, insulating it in the event of an impact.
The current presidential limo was built for security — not to be a mobile office. However, it’s said that the newer limo will be outfitted with the latest in secure communications technology and that there will be a video-conferencing screen on the glass partition that can be raised and lowered between the president and the front seat of the limo.
So, the next time you see a presidential limousine, take a closer a look when the doors are opened. You may be able to get a peek inside and see one of the most high-tech, sophisticated vehicles on the road today.