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The Hunt is On for the Next U.S. President’s Limo

March 19, 2014

In January 2017, not only will there be a new president of the United States, but also a new presidential ride. It was recently confirmed that the newly-elected leader of the free world will get a new presidential limousine.

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security posted a contract proposal on its official website seeking bids for designs for the next presidential limousine. According to the listing, the contract for the next president’s new ride will be awarded by August 29th. The Secret Service plans to award the contract this summer to make the vehicle ready by the time the new Commander-in-Chief assumes office.

The awarding of the contract is the second phase of the department’s four-phase plan for the next presidential limousine. Phase one, which is armor development, has already started. Phase two is the integration of the armor onto the vehicle, hence the solicitation of an automaker. Phase three is called ‘automotive validation,’ which involves testing and assessment. The last phase is the construction of the new vehicle.

The contract listing is very specific, asking bids from only domestic automakers. It states that the bids are “restricted to Major domestic U.S Automobile Manufacturers, who have their primary headquarters located in the United States of America.”

Of all major domestic car manufacturers, General Motors is considered the strongest contender. Its luxury division, Cadillac, has supplied the presidential limousine for nearly three decades. It also provided the current vehicle used by President Barack Obama.

Other local carmakers are not out of the running, though. It was reported that both Chrysler and Ford aim to compete with GM for the construction of the high-profile vehicle. Ford has also previously provided autos for the White House, the most famous of which was the Lincoln Continental four-door convertible President John F. Kennedy was riding when he was assassinated in November 1963.

The shooting resulted in the creation of a more secure vehicle for the U.S. President. The Lincoln was reworked and installed with a protective roof before it was used by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The famous Lincoln served the White House until 1977 and is currently displayed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

All the presidential limousines that came after the 1961 Lincoln are made more secure with the latest defensive technologies. The limousine to be unveiled in 2017 will not be an exception—U.S. Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said that the agency is seeking to boost the high level of security already provided by the current presidential limousine. According to Milien, “The United States Secret Service is always looking at incorporating emerging technologies and improving our design processes wherever possible to afford the highest level of protection.”

The next presidential limousine will be replacing The Beast, the limousine President Obama has used since he took office in 2009. It is a custom made vehicle, the very first presidential set of wheels that does not resemble a production model. Built by GM, it is considered a Cadillac because it does possess the key features of a Cadillac. However, the 2008 Cadillac DTS has the platform of a Chevrolet Kodiak commercial truck, making the vehicle a hybrid.

The seven-seat stretched limousine, which reportedly costs $1 million, is equipped with military grade armor plating, five-inch blast resistant windows, an advanced night vision system, an encrypted satellite phone, a blood bank in the trunk, a sealed interior with its own oxygen supply and Goodyear run-flat tires.

The Beast, which is powered by a V8 engine, is said to weigh about 15,000 pounds.

Photo credit: Steve/ Flickr/ CC BY-SA

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