- Trump’s trip to Asia is the longest by a US president to the region since the early 1990s.
- Accompanying Trump is “the Beast,” the specially built limo used by the Secret Service.
- Many details about “the Beast” are classified, but it’s hardened to resist all kinds of threats.
President Donald Trump’s trip to several East Asian countries this month is his first trip to the region as president and the longest trip a US president has taken to Asia since George H.W. Bush in 1992.
The usual presidential retinue is travelling with Trump, but he is also accompanied by the one-of-a-kind limo known as “the Beast” that protects the commander in chief from all manner of threats.
“With #POTUSinAsia we couldn’t very well leave The Beast behind!” the Secret Service tweeted on Saturday morning.
There are several presidential limos in service — two travel with the president at any one time — and those not in use are stored in the basement of the Secret Service’s headquarters under 24-hour surveillance. The presidential convoy can be up to 45 vehicles, including a decoy limo.
The versions used by President Barack Obama were made by General Motors and used a gas-powered V8 engine that got 3.7 miles to the gallon. “Surprisingly,” an agent told Autoweek in 2013, “it has pretty good 0-60 pickup.”
The fortress on wheels has armour made of steel, aluminium, titanium, and ceramic, with fibreglass sheets on the doors and fenders. The fuel tank is also armour-plated and encased in a special foam to protect it in a crash or from small-arms fire. The entire passenger cabin can be sealed off in response to a chemical attack, and tires reinforced with Kevlar are resistant to punctures — though steel rims can keep the vehicle moving in case the tires deflate.
While inside, the president can have secure videoconferences with the Situation Room at the White House or with US embassies overseas. The car’s weight is classified, as is the technology used in its 5-inch-thick bulletproof windows. Its armoured doors are 8 inches thick and weigh as much as the cabin door on a 757 jet.
Since George W. Bush took office, the Secret Service has built the presidential limos from the ground up, as modifying ones bought off the lot was expensive and inefficient. The current models are designed to the specifications of the Secret Service and typically use a truck platform.
“The car may say Cadillac, but very little in that car is Cadillac,” one agent told Autoweek. “Even the Cadillac emblems on the hood and trunk are supersized. The car is really a truck that looks like a limo. And it drives like one, too.”
Trump is still using the version of the limo built for Obama in 2009. General Motors was awarded the contract for a new Beast in 2013, and the new version was supposed to be ready in time for Trump’s inauguration, but it was delayed — though it has been spotted during roadway testing several times.
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