Everyone has heard of Air Force One, the ultra-secure, ultra-luxurious airplane that chauffeurs the president of the United States around the world. It turns out that there’s also a very special presidential car for the leader of the free world.
Although it’s more properly known as the United States presidential state car (or its Secret Service code name, “Stagecoach”), it’s frequently known as Cadillac One. Because of its offensive capabilities and ability to withstand major attacks, it’s also known as simply “The Beast.”
The car is not actually a Cadillac, although it bears the company’s famous logo on its grill. The cars are custom built by GM, who won the current contract to construct the fleet of presidential cars. Each iteration of Cadillac One has about a dozen copies so they can be sent out all over the world ahead of the president.
Although the automobile was invented in the 1890s, it took until 1911 for a U.S. president to buy official state cars. William Howard Taft bought four cars for his fleet (including a Baker Motor Vehicle electric car and a steam-powered car).
For the next nine decades, presidents chose the cars they wanted, and the Secret Service would deck them out with whatever defensive precautions they thought necessary. Finally, during George W. Bush’s administration, the Secret Service realized there was a better way.
With all of the modifications the Secret Service was making, the cars were becoming extremely heavy. Because they were not built to withstand all of the extra weight, they would frequently break down.
In 2001, the Secret Service awarded a contract to General Motors to custom make the presidential car. Although the car still has the look of a Cadillac DeVille, it is actually built on a chassis for a sports utility vehicle.
With all of the extras that are built into the car, there is substantial need for a heavier-duty chassis. The windows have five layers and can stop armor-piercing bullets. The doors are 8 inches thick and can not only block projectiles but also keep out chemical attacks through a special extra-tight seal.
The chassis is reinforced to protect the passengers from bombs underneath the car. All of the car’s bodywork is armored with a combination of steel, aluminum, titanium, and ceramic. The gas tank has special armor and is surrounded by foam to prevent it from exploding if it is shot.
In addition to defensive capabilities, the car also has some offensive weapons. The car is fitted with tear gas cannons to disperse crowds. Of course, “The Beast” generally travels in a large motorcade surrounded by other Secret Service vehicles, so the situation would have to be dire for any weapons to be used.
There are two pints of blood of the president’s blood type in Cadillac One at all times. The back compartment, where the president rides, can be sealed against not only chemical attacks but also against nuclear contamination. Even when the tires are punctured, the car can continue driving on them.
All of these modifications make the gas mileage take a major hit. The car reportedly gets somewhere between 4 and 8 miles per gallon. It also can take a while to go from 0 to 60 due to the extremely high weight of the car.
A new Beast is in the works and should be ready for President Trump soon. There will no doubt be even more protective measures and offensive capabilities built into this presidential car. We’ll have all of the details for you when the new Cadillac One finally surfaces.