General Motors may not be doing so hot in auto sales, but it's still the number one choice for the White House. The Big Three manufacturer built the black limousine 44th U.S. President Barack Obama rode in during the recent Inauguration Day parade. Dubbed the 2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine, the high-tech ride replaces George W. Bush's 2006 Cadillac DTS limo. In fact, according to the Detroit News, this is "the first presidential limousine not to carry a specific model name."
Cadillac built the specially designed vehicle according to Secret Service specifications. "Gauging from what is known of earlier models, the car will reportedly have armor plating at least 5 inches thick, bulletproof windows, run-flat tires and a sealed interior to protect the president in case of chemical attack," says ABC News. The San Francisco Chronicle says that "a half-inch of transparent armor is enough to stop a .44 Magnum round at point-blank range; at a thickness of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches, the same material can withstand higher-velocity bullets fired from military assault rifles."
The Detroit News says the heavy limo could be built on GM's medium-duty truck platform. They also note, "Cadillac has disclosed in the past that the limo has a 10-disc CD player and hand-stitched leather interiors." Reportedly, Cadillac One weighs way over 5,000 pounds, goes from zero to sixty in a leisurely 15 seconds, and has a top speed of just 60 mph. But eight-inch thick ballistic armored doors, hermetically-sealed windows of five-inch thick bulletproof glass, and a five-inch thick armor plate underneath make it more impervious to blasts than many tanks. According to the AP, the Secret Service has appropriately nicknamed the new car "The Beast."
Several sources speculate whether the car will fit in with Obama's hybrid-friendly campaign. FOX News notes that "a vehicle that needs to withstand a direct hit from an asteroid is likely to get the kind of gas mileage that would make Toyota Prius owners weep, so there are no expectations of it being anything less than a certified gas guzzler." Still, a photographer has reported hearing "what sounded like the distinctive exhaust note of a diesel engine" under the Caddy's hood. CNN confirms, "Car enthusiasts believe the overweight vehicle burns diesel and will have low mileage."
Since the switch from horse and buggy during William Taft's administration, U.S. Presidents have ridden in everything from the Baker Electric to the Lincoln Town Car. The Detroit News points out that GM "has built the most presidential limousines since 1983, wresting the job away from Ford Motor Co., which built a series of Lincolns -- mostly Continentals -- for use by presidents starting in 1939, when it built a Lincoln V-12 for President Franklin Roosevelt." According to the New York Times, Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford and Reagan each used the same 1972 Lincoln. John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in his 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible on Nov. 22, 1963.
Before he ran for office, Obama was often seen driving a Chrysler 300C, but traded it in for a more politically correct Ford Escape Hybrid after receiving criticism regarding the V8-powered vehicle's low fuel economy. In fact, the Escape Hybrid has become the politically-correct car of choice for many politicians -- both Hillary Clinton and Al Gore have owned one (though Gore's son was behind the wheel of a Toyota Prius when he was arrested for driving at 100 miles per hour in July of 2007).
Several sources have reported that Obama learned to drive in a Ford Granada sedan (WGN TV reports he also told a radio station, "it may be the worst car that Detroit ever built"). USA Today notes that Obama's former opponent, Senator John McCain, once drove a 1958 Chevy Corvette, but now drives a Cadillac CTS.
As for Obama's former Chrysler 300C, the light blue car sold recently on eBay for quite a premium. Left Lane News reports that it was originally listed on eBay in December with a starting bid of $100,000 -- about $85,000 more than its list price. However, despite receiving about two dozen bids, the seller postponed the sale and ended the auction early. The seller relisted the "ObamaMobile" just recently and, according to the Washington Examiner, sold it for $271,300 after receiving more than 100 bids.
The Examiner continues: "For all of your trouble and a whole heck of a lot of money, you will at least be receiving proof of the President's ownership via the title. You'll also be getting a fully loaded car with options like leather interior, navigation, power doors and locks, and a sunroof!"