The US President’s New State Car is Late for Duty Since Inauguration but Hasn’t Missed Much Action
The incumbent President of the United States takes delivery from the Special Vehicles Unit of General Motors Corporation, the first of a series of twelve heavily armed and fortified vehicles known as Cadillac One, “the Beast,” at an average cost each unit of c. $1.5 million USD. The car appears to be a refresh of the first and present generation of ground up sole purposeful handbuilt limousines specified by the US Secret Service, and introduced into presidential service for the previous Obama administration at his inauguration in 2009. Tradition dictated for the last 20 years since the Bush administration that every 8 years with a new president came a new state car which launched and rolled out on Inauguration Day with that famous first ride of the presidents together alone on their way to the Capitol to switch over. For some unexplained reason the car by that tradition is two years late. The vehicle is actually a truck whose frame GM kept in its portfolio, as they long ago got out of the bus and large truck business but kept the frame to keep the GMC Topkick and Chevy Kodiak, a very flexible vehicle to make things like a delivery, tow, armored, and pickup truck to build something like this. Wise move. Otherwise like Ford, they wouldn’t have been able to make this car as it is. Its features are top secret, but without giving away state secrets I’m going to tell you things most other news agencies don’t about this car:
Official Name: The 2018 Cadillac United States of America Presidential State Car (Refresh):
- Official designation when POTUS (President of the United States) enters the car: Cadillac One (similar protocol when POTUS enters SAM 28/29000 to become AF One).
- Unofficial designation when POTUS leaves the car and in parlance: “the Beast.”
- An old school hand built hand crafted extended wheelbase saloon limousine, assembled by the metal workers at GM’s Special Vehicles Unit with input from GM’s Cadillac Division, body on medium-duty truck ladder GMC Topkick frame.
- Styled to look like a LWB high roof variant of Cadillac’s current flagship sedan, the CT6.
- Exterior styling cues: Escala concept grille, continued use of current generation Escalade headlights on the car’s previous version.
- Cadillac has no such car in production; a “one-off” even though c. 12 units to be made.
- Modified air suspension to ride and drive like a car, auto/manual adjustable height level control to negotiate steep uphills and sharp declines.
- Coached in-house, hand crafted stitched and fitted interior styling by Cadillac, and branded Cadillac with no model designation, other than unofficially and officially being called Cadillac One, “the Beast.” During assembly process it’s heavily armored, fortified, and ballistic proof/resistant protected, probably past the highest threat level standards. Materials used and process of assembly is CLASSIFIED.
Threat Level Standard Applied: European Standardization Committee BR7+/National Institute of Justice Threat Level/NIJ IV (now NIJ RF3)+. This withstands most military grade firearms and pocket held incendiary devices including a turret machine gun, an assault rifle or a grenade. Can also withstand things like a surface to surface or air missile, mine, or a road bomb. Most security coaching companies will only certify their vehicles for high risk principals for liability purposes up to threat level BR5 or 6. BR5 or 6 is “resistant,” 7 is “proof.” And proof can be relative or subjective.
Hermetically sealed interior: this car can be completely submersed in water without a drop coming into the cabin. This means it’s able to withstand a bio, nuclear (by purposeful device or dirty bomb at distance or by poisoning), and chemical attack. It has its own breathing air and filtration system. Theoretically you can drive this car off a bridge into a body of water and retrieve the car and its occupants alive if no substantial damage is done to the car and done in a reasonable amount of time. Theoretically.
Hardened against nuclear or some kind of magnetic pulse attack: for those able to survive a ballistic missile nuclear attack at a greater distance, many would notice that that things like their computer ECU equipped cars, electronic devices, quartz and even some of your Swiss mechanical watches don’t work anymore. This is because the computer chips or features inside these things have been compromised by the electromagnetic pulse that came from the blast. Like Air Force One, Cadillac One is designed to be protected from such a scenario so the occupants can maintain world communication with officials for status reports, the military for troop movements, and other world leaders to get on-ground assessments.
Cellular Deactivation: the next time you do a rope line at a presidential motorcade (something I suggest you really don’t do, you can see all the action on YouTube, unless you want to be near that “grassy knoll or a book depository.” If you don’t know what I’m referring to, type those “” words into Google), have someone monitor your cell phones. You’ll notice they won’t work as the car is approaching. That’s because the car did that. It’s preventing you from activating a bomb by cell phone detonator.
Transportable: Yahoo News is reporting that Cadillac One, “the Beast,” can be transported abroad Air Force One. With the VC-25A, the present Air Force One in the 747-200 airframe, I don’t see how this can happen. With a 100 person occupied plane for a 15,000 lbs vehicle theoretically it’s possible as the plane should carry the weight, but its cargo hold is not large enough for the car to drive up into. Possibly they may be referring to the new 747-8 Intercontinental undergoing refit, but I even doubt that. Regardless, as has been the case for decades, transporting any ground equipment for the USSS is left up to the 89th Air Wing Presidential Airlift Group at Joint Base Andrews aboard a C-117 Globe Master Cargo plane. This is where I need my military and fed LEO’s to chime in and help us with this. Use the comments section please so I can correct any information.
- Cost: $1.5 million USD/unit c. $16 million USD total.
- Weight: c. 15,000-20,000 lbs. The weight of a baby humpback whale. A heavy duty tandem axled 1995 Ford F800 Armored Truck we commonly see at a bank or store weighs about 15,000 lbs and take a coinage load of 10,000 lbs. (see picture head-on collision).
- Dimensions unknown. Slightly shorter, but longer and wider than a Cadillac Escalade.
- Power Plant: Unknown, CLASSIFIED. Witnesses near the car however say that Cadillac One, “the Beast” has a tailpipe and sounds like a turbo diesel which would make sense as you need torque to move a 15,000 lb wooly mammoth like this.
- Top Speed: Unknown, CLASSIFIED: There are scenarios where they need to haul ass, and while I’m sure it takes a while to get there, I’m sure this car can go over 100 mph.
- Glass partition between front and rear occupants. Retractable.
- Doors: Hermetically sealed, ballistic protected, 8” thick steel 5” glass, each as heavy as the doors on a Boeing 757.
- Head up windshield display: Equipped with Cadillac’s feature that the driver doesn’t have to look down at instrumentation to monitor driving conditions.
- Occupancy: 7 total: two front including driver, 5 rear including 3 against the trunk/boot and two jump seats against the front occupants. Claustrophobic prone. With the ballistic hardening the space inside is reduced.
- Weapons storage: Storage ports for long rifles like shotguns or assault weapons in case needed.
- Tear Gas Equipped: in case of terrorist attack on the motorcade or protest convergence attempts to overwhelm the vehicle, the car is equipped to expel tear gas to disperse.
- Oil Slicker/Smoke Screen Cannons (Goldfinger DB5 Feature): let’s say the car while in transport is overwhelmed by a swarm of terrorists on motorcycles. It has the capability to oil slick the road surface and smoke screen the area to thwart an attack attempt.
- Oxygen supply: some say this is the hermetically sealed independent breathing environment filtration system. Unknown for sure if this also means the car has a separate or the same O2 supply in case the principal becomes ill or attacked.
- Blood supply: the principal’s blood type kept in a refrigerated container unspecified location. (Something I’m sure no one wants to see in a fridge or wine cooler between the seats if there is one, so I’m sure it’s either up front or inside the trunk).
- Fully reclining and massaging rear seats.
- Upholstered and hand-stitched cabin in leather and real veneered wood with a large presidential seal embroidered middle rear seat.
- Fold out desk for a eating or writing surface.
- Fold down screen for rear seat occupant infotainment and communication.
Warren Commission Requirements:
- Fixed roof.
- Ballistic proof hardened against attack.
- Run flat tires.
- Ballistic glass.
- Police lights and sirens.
- Public address speaker.
- Back up vehicle same kind and livery.
- Follow up car (Suburban).
Presidential seal inlets for rear doors: like Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth when she enters her state car, the lighted emblem on the roof with her royal standard is illuminated to indicate to the crowds she’s inside the car. The same is done for the president and vice president with Cadillac One, “the Beast,” using refrigerator like magnets of their seals set into the rear doors to let crowds know the car is under official head of state use.
Fender Flagstaffs: Looking inside the car toward the hood: when inside the states or conducting regular business in a foreign country NOT on an official state visit, the president flies his presidential standard on the left fender and the colors on the right fender. When visiting on a pre-planned official state visit by invitation, like the one recently to Great Britain when he visited Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the standard is replaced with the host country’s flag as a courtesy. So yes over the years you’ll see pictures of US state cars bearing USSR, some Communist country, Russian, or Chinese flags to wonder “what’s that about?” That’s about the president on an official state visit in that host country, and symbolistic diplomacy.
12 Cars? Why Does He Need so Many Damn Cars?
When in a motorcade the president by regulations and guidelines needs to have a limo and backup limo in case one breaks down, and to confuse the enemy. What 12 limos does is give the president options of landing at different locations quickly to have ground transportation immediately available at different spots, instead of the USSS and the USAF scrambling around picking up and dropping off the same 2 or 4 limos so the president can get around. Also the vice president and other high ranking VIP’s and heads of state use this equipment as well while the president has his steady car. 12 limos gives them options when their schedules are overloaded while one or two may need servicing.
What’s the Big Deal?
Winning a contract by the home country to build their head of state, a state car, is a prestigious proposition. This where your brand becomes the official car brand of the country. You get to show off your best stuff and what’s coming ahead. Cadillac One, “the Beast,” is not only showing us the Cadillac CT6 design, but it’s giving us a hint of what’s to come with future models in the Escala design concept with the car’s grille and design. There’s vested interest why a company should want to have the honor of selection. But in this next case it helps where one day you can offer a car for state car duty, and the next day gladly accept it.
The Tale of the 1961 Lincoln Continental Nobody Wanted:
When Robert McNamara left his CEO spot at Ford Motor Company in 1961 to become President-Elect Kennedy’s Secretary of Defense, he just went through a battle with his executives to get a car to production nobody at the company wanted. First designated to be a Ford Thunderbird as that’s what the car to this day looks like, it had four doors and it was way too big so the Ford side didn’t want it. The Lincoln side didn’t want it either, as it had a styling and design they thought was too radical for their traditional customers. Well, they spent all that money in development costs, he told them at an executive committee meeting, somebody is going to build the car. He made a command decision. Lincoln was going to do it, their Continental sales the past few years sucked anyway. We should all thank Secretary McNamara for doing that.
As he was stepping out the door to leave Dearborn to head for Washington to help plan for the inauguration, he called the Wixom Final Assembly Plant, and told them to take a Wixom Blue Convertible off the line and hold it. He contacted the coaching house of Hess and Eisenhardt in Ohio, and had the car shipped and coached there. It was delivered to the White House in March 1961, a new car for a young new president, a car no one in the world has ever seen or imagined. Today that award winning designed car because of all of this is an icon.
This was where the birth of the 1961 Lincoln Continental was born and how the 1961 Lincoln Continental US Presidential Parade State Car, also known as the “Kennedy Lincoln” was born. So we see how cachet in brand can enhance not just the selected brand but it’s also a two way street for the presidency.
In the future when the stars are aligned perfectly that presently they are not, the time will come when both Bentley and Rolls Royce will anticipate who will receive the Royal Warrant to do the same for His Majesty the King’s State Car. I word it that way because I’m familiar and respectful of British culture (I guess I’m an Anglophile) to know this won’t happen during the Elizabethan reign as Her Majesty is quite happy with her Bentley.
Why Can’t This Car be a Ford, Mercedes, Chrysler, or Tesla? 4 Reasons:
Come push or shove, the state car can be anything the Secret Service wants it to be. But because of laws, regulations, Congressional oversight, and the Warren Commission Findings still in effect today, that’s the blue ribbon panel convened by the late former President Lyndon Johnson during his term after President Kennedy’s assassination and their findings, there are specific guidelines they must follow in order for the car to be approved by Congress to be the president’s car.
1. Domestically Owned/Operated:
All assets used by government officials are preferred to be domestic, not foreign. But in this global economy where that definition is blurred, where Daimler and General Motors are now both heavily foreign invested, both are just about equally invested in the US between their sales, expenditures, labor force, suppliers, down to their self best interests, it’s hard to discern for national security at times, who can we trust more.
Nowadays what is a foreign or domestic car? I’ll leave that for you to decide. Suffice to say, God forbid, if there ever was another 9/11, you’re damn sure both Mary Barra, CEO of GM and Dr. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, are going to reach out, be some kind of presence, and try to help us out of that crisis. They both come from different countries, but they have so much invested in us they’d both be equally concerned for our country. I know, as both of their companies came through for us on that fateful day . . .
2. Ability to Build:
The next leap is, if the selected company has the resources, materials, site, and wherewithal to build these vehicles, store them, and facilitate protection. This is why Airbus didn’t even bother submitting a proposal when the US Air Force announced it was accepting proposals for a new Air Force One. Besides the costs and time entailed to put together such a proposal, a company so large with so many nationalities, with a plane so large and controversial as the A380, which was presumed that would be the airframe they’d use, it would be hard to keep such an high valued and highly media exposed asset away from prying eyes while it’s being assembled, especially when all the parts come all over the place in Europe.
In the case of GM’s competitors, they face these similar issues. Ford hasn’t built a state car for the president since the GHW Bush Administration, a late 1980’s Town Car on the then young Panther Platform. Probably for the above combination of reasons, they choose not to.
Another reason why Ford and Chrysler can’t or won’t is that designing and building a car, any car, from the ground up is an expensive proposition, on average $1 billion USD. They’d have to absorb some of the cost and hope
they keep being awarded to keep offsetting the cost over time. But that figure is for mass production including getting the machinery and tooling for mass assembly. But it’s still very expensive. In this case this car is actually an old fashioned bespoke car like was once made years ago where the car company like Rolls Royce or GM made the frame and shell by hand, and a coaching company like HJ Mulliner for Rolls Royce now Bentley, or Fleetwood for Cadillac, would coach the bodies. In this case like Bentley does in-house now with Mulliner, Cadillac did their own coaching as all the luxury bespokes do. Incidentally Mercedes Benz, BMW, Rolls, and Bentley make their cars into security vehicles as well.
There’s a reason why a Rolls Royce Phantom costs a half million dollars, and why this car costs $1.5. I’ll leave it to you to gauge the difference and why.
3. Ability to Use Ladder Frame:
Another issue was the frame itself, and this is where car maker candidates dropped off quickly. Thank God GM didn’t throw out the baby with the bath water. When they got rid of their truck and bus building operations back at the turn of the century, they kept the Topkick frame in their portfolio. GM like other big global car companies at the time were going through a learning process of how using global platforms instead of cars made for specific markets, and using modular frames for many different purposes, can save them a ton of money.
Recognizing how the Topkick frame although not modular was flexible enough to make different large vehicles, it also turned out to be useful for this kind of vehicle as well. From school buses to armored, delivery, panel, tow, even a pickup truck, GM took whatever principles they learned from modular building and applied it here to ladder frame state car building.
Apparently somewhere between 2000 and 2004 between GW Bush’s last Cadillac Sedan DeVille and DTS limo sedans, the Secret Service wanted to find a better armored limo. A DeVille/DTS makes for a great prom or funeral limo, but it wasn’t really a great USSS limo as the car doesn’t protect and isn’t as sturdy as a good ol’ body on frame.
If any of you know anything about GM’s full size cars at the time you’ll understand. The compromising mono shell frame, shoddy front wheel drive engineering, and a shrinking full size car, were for similar reasons why the regular uniformed cops complained their cars were becoming too small and shabby, for them to start stepping up to using SUV’s.
So the Secret Service decided to try using a sole purposed ground up vehicle used exclusively for their duties. But this requires a ladder frame and hardly any of the car makers make cars that way anymore, even why car makers got out of the truck business. It’s all about that flexible modular platform that they can use for everything and on the cheap. But not for the kind of use the USSS needs. Ironically if it wasn’t for GM, the next stop would’ve been for them to start soliciting American truck companies for proposals. This is how the Soviets used to make their state car limos during the Cold War.
3a. Tesla Connection:
And this is where of all car companies, Tesla, yes Tesla, comes into play. I don’t think they realized what they did when they built those prototype electric tractors, that they opened up so many doors for them that companies like Ford or Chrysler have shut closed. With their ability to assemble a ladder chassis frame and modify it into different sized variants, from a Class 8 tractor down to a medium duty pickup truck, that was Plan A for Model Pickup if you remember, if Tesla lines all their stars up correctly, they too could get into the state car building business.
Personally I think an electric car would be better suited for this kind of duty, but I could see many hard line conservative Secret Service Agents strongly disagreeing with me, but that’s expected from an LEO culture resistant to change. The only problem is hardening the car’s computer, batteries, and motors from electromagnetic pulse attack, something they have to do with a gas car anyway.
The secret sauce for a ballistic electric car is the Tesla battery tray. It’s already heavily protected with the way Tesla designs their vehicles, and would make a great foundation to build a security vehicle, starting with absorbing a road bomb.
Even if the USSS doesn’t want an electric car, but eventually they’ll have to when they’ll have no choice, they can have Tesla build the car as a glider and the USSS could have a gas engine supplanted elsewhere, as finding a car company who can build on a frame takes precedence. THe remaining problem with Tesla is that they too, like GM would have to absorb some of the costs and hope to keep getting awarded, and with their present financial situation it wouldn’t make sense right now for them to persue something like this.
4. Classified Clearance:
This is where with recent events CEO Elon Musk is their bigger problem than finance to hurt his chances of his company awarded a contract for such a project with the headaches he’s already given the Air Force. Ironically with his Air Force clearance before the toke, Tesla could have been a shoe-in for a state car contract with what Musk has already given to the Air Force from Space X.
This also is a problematic issue for the other car companies, any company anywhere, that employs people like Millennials who grew up in a culture where drug use is becoming legal and acceptable but still not under certain circumstances.
So with that, the next and last big problem of finding a company qualified and willing to build a state car is getting classified clearance for each worker assigned to the project. They must sign and take an oath not to discuss the project with anyone, not even their parents or partners. Their backgrounds are thoroughly checked by the FBI. If they lie about anything, and I mean ANYTHING, they risk going to jail. The screening process is that serious and intense. Some people, the younger the more likely, will feel that such a scenario is just not worth it.
Fate of the Old 2009 Obama Fleet:
Cadillac One, “the Beast” 2009 series will continue service until the entire fleet is replaced by the refresh vehicles, gradually piece by piece. The best examples will stay in service by the USSS beyond, for other government VIPs starting with the vice president, visiting heads of state, and their ministers who do not or cannot use their own assets to protect and transport themselves. Then the cars begin their slow death journey of being used as training cars for refresher training for senior agents, and qualification cars for agent trainees in their academy. Usually an example was given to a former president for display in their libraries. You can go to the Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton Libraries to see examples used in their days. The Ford Museum, since Ford was clever enough to have the USSS lease their vehicles to them, has an impressive collection including President Kennedy’s, and the Toyota Museum in Japan has another example on exhibit there. The USSS has went out of their way to stop that, and it looks like they finally succeeded. Under protest by the National Archives and thus via the presidential libraries, when the USSS finished with the cars, they are now scrapped under supervision and shredded never to be used and seen again. It wouldn’t surprise me if not even one of these cars is put in their own museum or archives to not realize that the Secret Service is doing themselves a disservice by not keeping at least one car for history. It’s not just the president’s car. It’s ours too.
What do you think of the President’s State Car, Cadillac One, “the Beast?” Please let us know below!
All images Courtesy Wikipedia and Commons. The armored car crushed head on from another armored car is to show the level of protection at BR3. The president’s car is at least BR7+ to give you an idea of what kind of condition his car would be in if it were in a serious accident. This image was extracted for news purposes tapatalk.com Tow411 message board forum.