Is it a car, is it a tank? No, it’s the presidential limo

January 14, 2009

It’s one of the world’s most highly visible vehicles, but paradoxically also one of the most secret — the U.S. president’s armored Cadillac limousine.

USA/The Secret Service said on Wednesday a new presidential limousine would make its debut at President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20. The car will likely take the new president from the U.S. Capitol down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House after the swearing-in ceremony.

“Although many of the vehicle’s security enhancements cannot be discussed, it is safe to say that this car’s security and coded communications systems make it the most technologically advanced protection vehicle in the world,” Nicholas Trotta, assistant director for the Office of Protective Operations, said in a statement.

Not surprisingly, a Secret Service spokeswoman would not be drawn on whether the vehicle was resistant to  bomb or chemical attacks. But it would be a safe guess to say it is.

Cadillac, a division of General Motors Corp., issued its own statement on the new vehicle, saying it had taken steps to ensure no details of its design leaked out during its manufacture.

It said the vehicle, which is completely different to the one now being used by President George W. Bush, had been subjected to “an extreme testing regimen,” for which read: a lot of prototypes were blown up.

“The rear passenger area includes an extensive executive compartment with ample seating space, outward visibility and useful mobile office features,” it added.

The tradition of U.S. presidents using Cadillac limousines dates back to Woodrow Wilson. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower used two convertibles dubbed the “Queen Mary” and “Queen Elizabeth.”

“Named after the great ocean liners of the time, the vehicles were 21.5 feet long, weighed 7,660 pounds and were equipped with a full ammunition arsenal, two-way radios and heavy-duty generators,” Cadillac’s statement said.

It will probably be some years before we learn the secrets of Obama’s new limousine.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Handout (Secret Service handout photo of new Cadillac armored presidential limousine)


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The limo comes complete with lowrider hydraulic shocks and “spinner” rims

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