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The President and The Beast

Obama_Limo“The Beast” is the nickname of the customized limo of the President of the US of A – a sort of land-based equivalent of Air Force 1.  While the name might make certain groups of conspiracy theorists-cum-Biblical fundamentalists have all sorts of conniptions, The Beast is certainly quite an impressive vehicle.  It’s almost worth becoming President for – or at least becoming the Presidential chauffeur.  That’s if you pass the driving test as well as the safety check – the driver has to be able to do advanced level police-style manoeuvres for evasion if needed.

Although the official marque of The Beast is (no, not 666) Cadillac, the current Beast is actually based on a Chevrolet Kodiak, which means that although it looks like a limousine, it’s a ute at heart.  Looks-wise, it’s got many of the classic Cadillac hallmarks, such as the lights and the overall styling. What you might not know is that the outside of The Beast that you can see isn’t actually metal but removable fibreglass panels that look swish while covering the titanium, aluminium, steel and ceramic panelling underneath.

The full list of specs for The Beast is classified information, but they’ve let us know a few little bits and pieces about it, either to deter us from attempting to assassinate anybody, to reassure us that assassinations are unlikely or to make us very, very envious. Or not.

There is not just one Beast but there are 12 identical ones, all tucked away in a very secure underground garage somewhere so they can be trotted out in rotation while the others get fixed.

The Specs of The Beast:

Seating: Seven: two front seats, a rear-facing middle row and two in the very back (this is where the President plus his (or, in the future, her) significant other or sidekick sits). A glass partition separates front and rear, and the rear seats can do the lot when it comes to reclining and adjustment. There’s also a table that can fold up and down in between the middle and rear row.

In-car communications: A highly sophisticated communications console is included somewhere in The Beast. For obvious security reasons, the full details are not available, but it’s pretty safe to say that it’s probably a lot better than what you’ve got in your car. One detail that is available to ordinary Muggles like you and me is that there’s a link that talks to everything else in the accompanying motorcade. There’s also a satellite phone with a hotline to the Pentagon and the Vice President.  The car has night vision cameras.  Five antennae can be counted coming off the trunk, so there are probably way more communications networks talking to The Beast. Conspiracy theorists are free to speculate as to whether The Beast is in touch with alien craft.

Safety and security: The Beast can withstand biochemical attacks, bullets, grenades and fire, with 8-inch thick doors and some very serious armour plating, including underneath the car.  The bulletproof glass is 5 inches thick and is sealed against biochemical attack.  Other passive safety features (i.e. those that kick in after or during an accident) include a chauffeur who is a Secret Service member trained in CPR (although he’s not permanently fitted to the car), a blood bank well stocked with the President’s blood type, and a bodyguard in the front seat. Only the driver’s window opens: to a mere 3 inches down.  There are rumours that The Beast is fitted with tear gas cannons.  Rumours also abound about grenade launchers but we can’t confirm this.

Fuel economy: The engine (reportedly a V8) manages 29 L/100 km, so they’d better have a good source of fuel handy (no, we won’t get into the possible politics of this). Diesel is the fuel of choice, as it’s less volatile than petrol and thus less likely to explode if attacked.  The fuel tank is surrounded by foam armour so The Beast won’t become a fireball if the tank scores a direct hit.   (Poking around on a few other websites for info suggests that it’s actually run on petrol – so who really knows?)

Tyres: Kelvar-reinforced run-flats made by Goodyear. The steel wheels can keep going even if the tyre blows out completely rather than merely getting flat.

Weight: that’s classified information but it’s pretty darn hefty thanks to all that armour, so it’s a lot.  Smart cookies might be able to work out the weight from a combination of the fuel economy and the 0–60 mph time.

Length: 18 feet long

Performance: The 0–60 mph time is 15 seconds, which makes underpowered LPG vans looks speedy.  Top speed is reportedly 60 mph.

Ground clearance: Could be better, as demonstrated by one incident in Dublin.

Actually, I think that I like my own Volvo better. It might not have the armour plating and the communications but it’s got better fuel economy, better acceleration and much better ground clearance. And it’s less of a hassle for the local mechanic.

Safe and happy driving,