How will the country’s new leader be escorted by the Secret Service when he leaves the proceedings for his two-mile trek down Pennsylvania Ave in the Inaugural parade?
The answer, of course, is the new presidential limousine.
In two recent articles on CCN.com and CNET.com, the new presidential limo has been unveiled as a Cadillac (Obama heavily touted hybrid cars during his campaign). But the limo built by General Motors will be unlike any presidential vehicle, although not many details of the vehicle have been released.
Since the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945, the Secret Service has had the responsibility of driving presidents. Chauffeurs previously drove presidents.
The new presidential limo had only been photographed by “spy” paparazzi images until recently when officials images were released. The one-of-a-kind black Cadillac has been described as part car, part truck and part tank.
Reviews of the vehicle, which reportedly includes eight-inch thick doors, have been less than flattering.
One observer, quoted in the CNN.com article, commented on an auto enthusiast web site: “Ugly as sin. Can’t we make a hotter ride for our pres?”
Another observer commented: “Sheesh. Why don’t they just transport the president around in an Abrams tank?”
“The presidential vehicle is built to precise and special specifications, undergoes extreme testing and development, and also incorporates many of the top aspects of Cadillac’s ‘regular’ cars — such as signature design, hand-cut-and-sewn interiors, etc.,” GM spokeswoman Joanne K. Krell told CNN.com.
In 1965, Lyndon Johnson was the first president to ride in a bulletproof limo in an inaugural parade. It was less than two years after his predecessor, John F. Kennedy, was shot and killed while riding in an open car.
Article Last Updated: January 8, 2009.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.