Inside The “Beast”- The President’s Tank Of A Car
We all know about Air Force One – but once that flying tank lands, how exactly does the President move from point A to point B? The answer is ‘The Beast’, a hulking 20,000-pound Cadillac limousine that is so guarded it puts the Death Star to shame. Given that most cars do not weigh anywhere near that much - a traditional Cadillac Escalade weighs a little less than 6,000 pounds - where are all those extra pounds going? And does the President need them?
But before we can answer that, we have to give you a little history. The first truly specialized car made for the Presidency was the 1938 Cadillac “Queen Mary”, so-called because Queen Mary christened it for some reason and FDR had the pleasure of using that as his parade vehicle. Then Truman used it. Then Eisenhower.
It was also the first Presidential car to have the Secret Service involved in the design. It featured a two-way radio for communication, and storage for ammunition. It was blessed with Cadillac’s second generation 16 overhead valve V8, which produced an impressive 210 brake horsepower. So, it was no slouch on a straight if the occasion arose. Although there are no documented Presidential drag races on record, it’s still good to know it had the juice.
After Queen Mary retired in 1950, it was replaced with the Lincoln Cosmopolitan, which was custom ordered but didn’t have the more tactical additions. It sported a 336.7ci, 152hp L-head V8 and that produced a not so whopping 145 horsepower. Now, here is a bit of fun trivia, President Harry Truman, who commissioned the car, chose not to go with the traditional Cadillac, because Cadillac refused to make a car for him during his Presidential campaign. And who said politicians don’t hold grudges?
For the next three decades, The Presidency stuck with Lincolns until Ronald Regan brought the Cadillac back, although by then the Secret Service had taken on the responsibility of acquiring presidential vehicles -- for security reasons. Ever since that transition, the cars themselves were more like armored personnel carriers, built more for secure transport than for performance.
That brings us back to The Beast, and its weight problem... sorry, trying not to body shame. Weight situation. The reason is all of the armor.
Commissioned in 2014, the body might look like a stylish CT6, but it is made of five-inch-thick military-grade armor plating and that includes the floor. The doors have eight-inch-thick armor plating, and all of the windows are bulletproof. That is going to add a bit of heft without a doubt and also a bit of extra bills – making it quite a bit more expensive than the floor model CT6 coming in at $1.5 million.
The Beast is airtight so it can withstand a chemical attack. The car’s doors are famously difficult to open, requiring some serious strength if you want to escape the belly of the Beast. There is also an oxygen tank under the back seat in case of a fire. And the trunk has, you guessed it, a spare and a bunch of guns.
Engine-wise it is rocking GM’s finest, the Duramax diesel V8, which produces 214 horsepower (only four more than the Queen Mary!), but gets a very disappointing 8 miles to the gallon at a max speed of 60mph.
To that end, though, President Biden’s Press Secretary said recently that the President’s team is considering giving the Beast an electric engine. So that will be fun, the world’s first electric tank... sort of. But whatever you consider it, “The Beast” is certainly a beauty.
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