Joe Biden boards plane to Washington ahead of inauguration
US President Joe Biden will now travel in his official state car – The Beast. The current model of presidential state car is a unique Cadillac that debuted on September 24, 2018, but over the years, Presidents have used various other models. And vehicle specialists Vanarama have analysed how their security features have changed in a new report.
Lincoln K Sunshine Special
The first official presidential state car was used by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 and boasted a two-way radio as one of its defensive mechanisms.
But things soon changed with the impending threat posed by war.
The report reads: “The car started life with a two-way radio, extra-wide running boards and handles for Secret Service agents to grab and ride on the outside of the car should it be necessary.
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“However, this all changed in 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbour during World War 2.
“Suddenly, the protection of the President was taken a lot more seriously and changes were made to the car to match the climate.
“Armoured plated doors were added to the car, along with bulletproof tires.
“If the occupants of the car needed to go on the attack, storage compartments for submachine guns were added down the sides of each door.”
The second Presidential car came in 1942 and the maximum amount of protection was needed for President Roosevelt and later Harry Truman.
The report details: “It was the first presidential car to be delivered with protective armour, which added an additional 3,200kg to the original weight of the car.
“To accommodate the extra weight, the car was outfitted with a Bendix Aviation brake device which provided assistance to the driver to slow the car down.”
After the war, Truman got the chance to choose his own set of wheels.
And the report explains how it was becoming more common to “add extra headroom to the car to accommodate tall silk hats,” a popular fashion accessory at the time.
It adds: “A more practical customisation in order to defend the President from an attack was the armour-plated bodywork.
“In 1954, the famous ‘bubble-top was added by President Dwight D Eisenhower after he realised that when it rained, no one could see him in the car when the roof was up during a parade.”
Lincoln Continental SS-100-X
Spanning from 1961 to 1972, four variants of the Lincoln Continental were used. One of them was the SS-100-X.
This was the Secret Service codename given to the infamous presidential limousine used by John F Kennedy.
The car is best known due to his assassination on November 22, 1963, and it was the last open-top Presidential car to be used.
In their review, vehicle experts noted: “Although the car was sleek and stylish, it lacked many security features that you’d expect to find on a car fit for the leader of the free world.
“After the assassination, many new features were added including titanium armour plating, a bulletproof permanent hardtop and glass.
“Three more variations were put into service in the years following, used by Lyndon B Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
“As you might imagine, they were all extremely heavily armoured with America still recovering from the Kennedy tragedy.”
Ronald Reagan was the first and only president to use the Cadillac Fleetwood limousine when it was delivered to the White House in 1983.
It was the first time that Cadillac was used instead of Lincoln cars.
The car famously featured a raised roof and seats to make it easier for President Reagan to see the passing crowds.
But the report adds that “unlike previous cars that presidents got around in, it was totally encased in bulletproof glass”.
It continues: “Other security features included thick, armoured bodywork, heavy-duty brakes to slow the car down due to the increased weight, along with oversized wheels and tires.
“By this time, presidential cars were no longer used outside of official duties because of security concerns.”
Ronald Reagan compares Russia to a bear in 1984 TV campaign
Bill Clinton’s time as President in 1993 would see the return of an updated Cadillac Fleetwood limousine as the official state car.
The car purposely didn’t have a sunroof or running boards installed to minimise threats from the outside world.
CNN once interviewed a former Secret Service agent named Joe Funk, who described the inner workings of the car, saying that the President is essentially totally cut off from the outside world.
It was considered extremely high tech to have access to phones, the internet and “satellite communications” while in a vehicle.
Cadillac DTS Presidential State Car
Introduced as the new presidential state car for George W Bush in 2005, the Cadillac DTS was a hand-crafted model built for the requirements of the Secret Service.
According to the report: “Although a lot of the car’s details are hard to come by due to the sensitive nature of the vehicle, we do know that the vehicle is one of a kind.
“Perhaps the most impressive security measure is the five-inch-thick armour panels that surround the car.
“The windows, unlike other presidential cars, don’t open to ensure the safety of all the occupants.”
Used by Barack Obama during his inaugural parade, the Cadillac One was aided in design by the Secret Service and has perhaps the most complete defensive capabilities of any previous presidential car.
The report states that it featured “state-of-the-art electronics, five-inch-thick bomb proof glass and a sealed interior to prevent chemical attacks, the car is super secure”.
It remained the presidential car until 2018.
Cadillac “The Beast”
Similar to the 2009 edition, The Beast was used by Mr Trump.
Road and Track magazine reported that “the design appears to be a simple evolution of the old model with more current Cadillac design cues, like an Escalade sedan”.
The car gained notoriety after Donald Trump’s state visits to the UK, and his 2018 meeting with Kim Jong-un.
It apparently features “kevlar-lined tires to prevent attacks trying to slow the car down, along with a foam-sealed fuel tank to ensure the car could never explode if it was involved in a conflict”.
Presidential cars now reportedly come with a state-of-the-art communication system as standard and a secure oxygen and blood supply.
It has been called a “rolling bunker” and some have joked that it “could withstand an asteroid”.
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