CNN: Shortly after taking the oath of office, Obama will climb into the Mother of All Hybrids -- part car, part truck and, from the looks of it, part tank.The car's bells and whistles are top secret:
In keeping with recent tradition, the Secret Service will place a brand-new presidential limousine into service January 20 to drive the new president on the 2-mile jaunt down Pennsylvania Avenue during the inaugural parade.
Already, spy photos of the limo -- with patches of gray primer -- have leaked out. And already, the reviews:
"Ugly as sin," says one car enthusiast on an auto Web site. "Can't we make a hotter ride for our pres?"
"Sheesh," says another, "why don't they just transport the president around in an Abrams tank."
An analysis of unauthorized photographs taken while the car was being tested last summer on public roads suggests that the presidential ride will be a truck-based Cadillac. It will presumably replace the Cadillac that President Bush has used since 2005.Today Show hosts babble about it:
This new car will be a Caddy like no other. Photos by a spy photographer who hunts future models that haven't been publicly revealed for magazines and websites, provide clues about how specialized presidential transportation has become since the first White House fleet was ordered for William Howard Taft in 1909. Taft rode in a stock White steam car or a conventional Pierce-Arrow, but the next president will travel in a fortress-like vehicle that was mostly built from scratch.
The photographer noted that the limousine was being tested with a pair of GMC Topkick medium-duty trucks. The limousine seemed to be riding on the same 19.5-inch Goodyear Regional RHS tires as the trucks, indicating that it is far heavier than a civilian Cadillac. Indeed, it is believed that the limo is based on GM's 2500 line of trucks, which includes an extra-heavy-duty version of the Suburban.
Although the raised roof and wide windshield pillars are inherited from the ultra-armored limousines that entered presidential service in 2001, only educated guesses can be made about the technical details. Because neither the Secret Service nor General Motors will discuss the car, or even confirm that a new one has been under development, it is impossible to provide basic specifications or dimensions. Calls to Cadillac's media relations department were not returned, and the Secret Service declined to comment.
So people who are curious about such things look for clues and make deductions. I have spent almost 30 years paying close attention to presidential vehicles as part of my interest in what are called professional cars, which also include hearses and ambulances. (I am the author of "Professional Cars: Ambulances, Hearses and Flower Cars," Krause Publications, 2004.)