Barack Obama may have the latest and most high tech limousine of all the presidents but the history of presidential limousines goes back officially to Woodrow Wilson who rode in a Cadillac during a 1921 parade to celebrate the end of World War I.
A brief history of presidential limo upgrades
Wilson and several succeeding presidents rode in standard luxury cars but it wasn’t until 1938 that the “Queen Elizabeth” and “Queen Mary” were presented to the government with additional security equipment including a full ammunition arsenal, communications devices and extra generators.
A 1939 Lincoln V12 convertible was the first vehicle built specifically for use by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Although this car was designed for basic security, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a heavily armored vehicle that had been owned by gangster Al Capone was called into service due to the fear of assassination attempts.
Cadillacs and Lincolns have been the most common makes used for presidential limos until 1972 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron limos were ordered by Richard Nixon. The rest of the motorcade vehicles were also primarily Cadillacs and Lincolns until the 1980s when Chevy Suburbans became the preferred command cars.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, presidential limos were outfitted with armor and bulletproof glass, additional headroom, heavy duty air conditioning and details designed for comfort and ease of working while on the road.
The Beast makes an appearance
Not only is Cadillac One built like a tank, it contains some of the most sophisticated hi tech gear available – not surprising given the volatile nature of politics and world events.
- The frame is a GM medium body truck chassis with a 5 inch steel plate protecting the entire underside.
- A Duramax diesel engine powers the car but given the weight it is pushing, it goes from zero to 60 in about 15 seconds and only gets about 8MPG. Diesel fuel was considered a better choice since it is less volatile and can be found anywhere in the world.
- Even though diesel is not as likely as gasoline to explode, the tank is armor plated and surrounded with a special type of foam to offset the effects of even a direct hit.
- The body is heavily armored with 5 inch thick doors that are as heavy as those on a jet airplane. The outer body is a mixture of steel, aluminum, titanium and even ceramics.
- Able to hold 4 passengers, the rear compartment has a glass partition and panic button.
- Blowouts are no problem since the tires are Kevlar reinforced and shred and puncture proof. If that still doesn’t work, the steel rims can carry the car at high speed for a safe getaway.
- Not only is all window glass bulletproof, the driver’s window can withstand armor piercing rounds.
- Armor isn’t the only defense option with Limo One. Night vision cameras, pump action shotguns, tear gas cannons and a lock down option to seal out chemicals along with an oxygen supply and built in firefighting system add to the President’s security. There are even bottles of the President’s blood on board for an emergency transfusion.
- Limo One has state of the art communications including Wi-Fi, a satellite phone, external microphones with interior speakers and connections to military satellites for encrypted radio and video.
Imagine all this style, luxury and fire power for only $300,000!