The Presidential Limousine

Some, but not many, details.

EDITED TO ADD (2/13): Another article, plus info about the Gatling gun-equipped SUV that follows Cadillac One.

EDITED TO ADD (2/16): Just look at that door. It's massive.

Posted on January 21, 2009 at 4:00 PM • 57 Comments

Comments

KeithJanuary 21, 2009 4:39 PM

Did anyone else notice when the camera shots were low you could barely see the agent on the other side of the car? It is a big car, more like a suburban dressed like a limo.

TammyJanuary 21, 2009 5:02 PM

@Phillip: I'll venture a guess that your Ford Escort didn't weigh 16,000 pounds, however. I suspect the actual top speed, though, is both well above 60mph and classified.

AlexJanuary 21, 2009 5:24 PM

It's a 6.5L diesel, makes sense and borrowed from light commercial trucks. That explains the "acceleration". It can probably go faster then 60 mph, but it'll corner like a 16000lbs truck... with a fairly high center of gravity due to all that armor.

For reference, this is what a 16000 lbs vehicle looks like normally: http://www.hinocanada.com/16507.htm

"Filias CupioJanuary 21, 2009 6:14 PM

"It has ballistic-resistant windows and tires"

So if you throw a window or tire, it tries not to travel along a parabola?

RoyJanuary 21, 2009 6:19 PM

The accompanying Chevy Suburbans have a turreted minigun. They should be able to provide some cover fire while Stagecoach escapes.

ToddJanuary 21, 2009 6:52 PM

I love the CSM graphic and text re: the driver's window "the only window that opens...so the driver can pay tolls"

I'd love to know the last time the motorcade stopped to pay tolls...

MatthewJanuary 21, 2009 7:03 PM

"...the Secret Service adopted a policy to destroy presidential limos after they are taken out of service..."

Destroy them how?!?

ice weaselJanuary 21, 2009 7:46 PM

"...the Secret Service adopted a policy to destroy presidential limos after they are taken out of service..."
Destroy them how?!?
Posted by: Matthew at January 21, 2009 7:03 PM
***
Thread winner.

bluknightJanuary 21, 2009 8:10 PM

Actually, shipping them back to Detroit (or even better, Gary IN) would do quite nicely to destroy them.

Rust is a bitch.

NeighborcatJanuary 21, 2009 8:42 PM

Regarding "Hope over fear"

Regardless of any concerns for personal safety, the POTUS has a responsibility to the nation to stay alive, and therefore take all reasonable measures towards that end. He need not be fearful to ride in armor, only mindful of his duty.

NC

NeighborcatJanuary 21, 2009 8:48 PM

I'll also add that the president doesn't get to pick what type of vehicle he rides in. It's a "matter of national security" (tm).

NeighborcatJanuary 21, 2009 9:17 PM

As for how the retired vehicles are destroyed, they are fitted with a large spoiler, "fart-can" muffler, neon light accents, and given to a 16 year old male to drive.

NC

DaveCJanuary 21, 2009 9:36 PM

Definitely an SUV chassis (stretched Escalade?) but they did a good job of making it look car-like for TV. Lots of custom fabrication, but then the bodywork is custom anyway :-)

To the destruction comment: three of the retired ones from the 60's and 70's are at the Ford museum in Detroit, and look quite intact, though no recent models.

sooth sayerJanuary 21, 2009 10:00 PM

irrespective of the type -- no it is not hybrid

politician motto - do what i say not what i do

MPJanuary 21, 2009 10:19 PM

@sooth sayer

Obama actually drives (used to) a Ford Escape Hybrid, probably bought as the onset of his campaigning 2 years or so ago. I doubt he had little say in this auto. Maybe it's still a hybrid, runs on turbo-diesel and hope.

Lawrence D'OliveiroJanuary 21, 2009 10:56 PM

Bet it can't travel on 3 wheels, like the Citroën SM that saved President De Gaulle's life during one assassination attempt.

JamieJanuary 22, 2009 12:08 AM

"bottles of the President's blood"

Really? Assume they mean blood type? Or does part of the transition involve donating 20 pints of your own blood to be stashed around the car, Oval Office, etc.?

ZithJanuary 22, 2009 1:14 AM

"Bet it can't travel on 3 wheels, like the Citroën SM that saved President De Gaulle's life during one assassination attempt."
Lawrence D'Oliveiro

Actually, it can. The wheels are designed to be able to travel quite some distance without tires. Or do you mean actually destroying the wheel itself? If so, I rather doubt you could cause that damage without damaging some other essential bits to make the vehicle nonfunctional in other ways.

Zap BranniganJanuary 22, 2009 1:34 AM

I doubt it carries the President's blood. Blood expires pretty rapidly (30-60 days) and has to be kept refrigerated. Blood substitutes have proved to be useless as well. I can't imagine the president giving blood 6 times a year just in case of a catastrophic however unlikely event. That being said, BLOOD TYPE is less unlikely, but would require a degree of coordination to make sure it was kept fresh. I'm glad we have people looking after these details. We finally have a good president and we'd better keep him safe.

JurjenJanuary 22, 2009 2:31 AM

What if it hits the water? No problem, it sinks, will drive over the bottom of the pond and only the driver will notice.

TimJanuary 22, 2009 2:59 AM

"Maybe it's also a boat."

Here's where Top Gear steps in and designs the ultimate President's amphibious chariot for $1000...

theprez98January 22, 2009 8:08 AM

"We finally have a good president..."

I'm glad you've already determined his legacy after just two days on the job. Have you considered becoming a member of the press corps?

DS instead of SMJanuary 22, 2009 8:14 AM

@Lawrence D'Oliveiro: "Bet it can't travel on 3 wheels, like the Citroën SM that saved President De Gaulle's life during one assassination attempt."

Thanks to its unusual abilities, an unarmoured Citroën DS saved the life of President Charles de Gaulle during the assassination attempt at Petit-Clamart on 22 August 1962 planned by Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry - the 150 shots had blown two of the tires, but the car could still escape at full acceleration, driven by Francis Marrou.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

Another Citroën DS ended third in the race "Chamonix 1972", without a tire, lost in the first half of this race.
http://citroensmpassion.free.fr/ch8/...

Kiaser ZohsayJanuary 22, 2009 9:30 AM

The new limo did inherit its front end from the Escalade line.

Jokes about 23-inch rims, low-profile tires and lift kits will left as an exercise.

Matt from CTJanuary 22, 2009 10:04 AM

>To the destruction comment: three of
>the retired ones from the 60's and 70's
>are at the Ford museum in Detroit, and
>look quite intact, though no recent
>models.

I'd bet my bottom dollar the "destruction" is the same fate as the U.S.S. America -- they're attacked in various scenarios to learn how to build a better limo (or aircraft carrier).

bobJanuary 22, 2009 10:32 AM

@..if it goes in water: the same closed system which provides breathing atmosphere against CBW attacks probably makes it watertight to a certain depth as well in case of submersion. If I designed it it would. Reduced atmospheric pressure also.

I wonder if it has some form of stored oxygen for the engine as well (similar to a N2O tank) for limited running through unburnable atmosphere, like a fire or a terrorist standing in front of it spraying a fire extinguisher into the air intake (although the Suburban with minigun will presumably make that a hard position to hire for)...

PaeniteoJanuary 22, 2009 10:47 AM

@bob: "(although the Suburban with minigun will presumably make that a hard position to hire for)"

Not to mention a vehicle of several tons accelerating right towards you... ;-)

PaeniteoJanuary 22, 2009 10:59 AM

btw, I heard that Obama is going to get a special smartphone, hardened and approved by the NSA, nicknamed "Barackberry".
Any news on that?

mcbJanuary 22, 2009 11:19 AM

@Matt from CT

"I'd bet my bottom dollar the "destruction" is the same fate as the U.S.S. America -- they're attacked in various scenarios to learn how to build a better limo (or aircraft carrier)."

Or like other obsolete behemoths they could sink the limo to create an artifical reef.

partdavidJanuary 22, 2009 1:17 PM

Most of the "limo" measures seem reasonable, or at least close to it, but the minigun-firing chase vehicle really bothers me. It screams "I'm itching to open this up", and it turns the presidential motorcade into a military convoy. What is the threat scenario for spraying a crowd with bullets, exactly?

On the other hand, it would be *just* the thing for zombie attack.

mooJanuary 22, 2009 2:51 PM

I wonder if something like a "zombie attack" was part of their planning? After all, they have to try and be prepared for literally anything. Being zerged by hundreds of suicidal fanatics is probably just one of dozens of scenarios they plan for. They want to maximize the survivability of the president in every scenario they can think of, and indeed in any unforseen scenario as well.

About the worst scenario I can personally think of, is if terrorists (or someone trying a military coup?) take the motorcade by surprise with a fully-armed attack chopper. This 16-ton limo is a lot more likely to survive something like that than anything else on the road, and the minigun might be able to shoot down the chopper.

WaltJanuary 22, 2009 3:27 PM

The minigun is not there to remove the threat, it just provides "ample distraction" while the limo gets away from the attack area.

Dale GardnerJanuary 22, 2009 4:23 PM

The front end looks rather Escalade'ish, but I'd guess they'd need a medium truck frame to build the thing on...

The vehicles at the Henry Ford, including the car in which President Kennedy was assassinated, were acquired prior to the decision to 'retire' former vehicles via destruction.

Eric in PDXJanuary 22, 2009 4:35 PM

@moo

I wonder what a fully loaded A10 warthog would do to this vhecial?

I also agree with Walt. The mini-guns are there to lay down an insane amount of cover fire providing for the limo to hoof it out of the kill zone....

One of the links suggested the ammo the mini-guns use poision in some way. What do you all think the likely hood of that is?

Clive RobinsonJanuary 22, 2009 11:30 PM

@ moo,

"About the worst scenario I can personally think of, is if terrorists (or someone trying a military coup?) take the motorcade by surprise with a fully-armed attack chopper. This 16-ton limo is a lot more likely to survive something like that than anything else on the road, and the minigun might be able to shoot down the chopper."

Err no.

The minigun has a very limited range compared to an attack helicopter, or quite a few other less obvious weapons that somebody planning a military coup might use and have more ready access to.

The biggest weakness of most armourd vehicals is their mass and at 32,000 lbs on wheels it has some very real issues to contend with that no amount of grunt in the engine can compensate for.

The other major weakness that a cavalcade vehical has is access, both physical and visable. The president is "on show" and also needs to be got in or out fairly easily and without emabaresment. So the more traditional design of a military armourd vehical such as a tank is out.

I suspect that the design has a similar philosophy to that of fire protection safes. That is you design for time limited first response protection to get a second response on hand, which in all likley hood will involve three or more attack helicopters.

As noted above the President that had most to fear from military style attack in the west was Charles de Gaulle. He knew he had some asspects of the military definatly gunning for him. The choice of vehical used was an unarmoured Citroën DS which had an early form of active suspension and was driven by somebody with proven defensive driving skills. It saved his life an many occasions.

Sometimes speed and manoverability are more important than anything else when dealing with heavily armed opposition (which is one of the reason why infantry are still needed).

Not being unplesant or nasty but from earlier times the processess for dealing with the loss of a President have already been worked out. So keeping a President alive is more one of prestige than actual need. And from that perspective a Presidents family is actually more important to protect than the President...

bartJanuary 23, 2009 10:53 AM

My favorite part is the shotguns. No matter how high-tech the world gets, there will be times when you need a pump-action shotgun to take care of business.

John WatersJanuary 24, 2009 1:48 AM

moo, there have been reports of USSS using dazzling devices to thwart snipers, I can only assume that the same devices may be able to disrupt or hinder an attack helicopters FLIR system. Not to mention there are probably trunk monkeys with stinger missiles in the back of some of those black suburbans.

John WatersJanuary 24, 2009 1:59 AM

Eric: when you are firing thousands of 7.62x51 cartridges per minute, why do you need to use anything other than ball ammo with the occasional tracer? Even one well aimed 7.62x51mm round is sufficiently fatal at nearly 1000 yards. The sheer trauma of being shot with one will probably kill or incapacitate the adversary faster than the chemical or biological processes involved in poisoning. Also bear in mind that the 7.62x51 is considered a midrange cartridge, the USSS has a huge array of longer range and harder hitting cartridges available to their operators depending on mission; including the .338 lapua magnum, 50 BMG, 408 Chey Tac, and probably some others ( 6.5 grendel? .300 Winmag? 6mm PPC?).

The other issue, of course, is ballistics. Where do you put the poison? How does its presence effect the ballistics of the bullet in flight? Does the change in ballistic coefficient and reduced exterior or terminal ballistics make the effective lethality of a poisoned bullet worthwhile?

I have been shooting for about 25 years now, for 70% of my time here on God's green earth, and I can't for the life of me see why anyone would want to use such a thing in the role of VIP protection.

John WatersJanuary 24, 2009 2:04 AM

@bart: Amen to that, shotguns and m1911 pistols will be with us for a long, long time to come.

JoeFebruary 10, 2009 10:45 AM

How does the presidential limousine get to locations that he travels to? Like today, he's flown to Ft, Myers, gets off the plane and gets in the presidential limo, what if he flies to CA? Do they have that many of them, and just drive them to where he's going to be?

oldskoolcityFebruary 19, 2009 4:30 AM

The presidents limousine is flown ahead of air force one in a us air force Globemaster III for all out of town and foreign trips.

HondamanJanuary 23, 2010 3:56 PM

To The person who said their escort has better performance, ur escort probably didnt weight like 10 tonns like that limo does. when ur car can go 0-60 in 5 seconds and protect u from a nuke, then u can talk about performance

Nick PMay 26, 2011 2:32 PM

The crowd starts cheering then you hear "plink." Immobilized. I always thought stretchy limo's were a security risk anyway. A pimped out, err armored, Cadillac is much better in terms of mobility and style. Can't forget the chrome rims, either.

Clive RobinsonMay 26, 2011 2:53 PM

@ Nick P,

"A pimped out, err armored Cadillac is much better in terms of mobility and style. Can't forget the chrome rims, either"

Nagh, he's POTUS do you realy want him looking like an extra for a remake of "Shaft"?

What he needs is a luxury version of the latest main line battle tank with radar controled autolaying guns and anti bozo missiles.

Admittadly a bit environmentaly unfriendly but hey you cann't have everything, mind you you could chrome plate the tracks ;)

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