President Obama’s “Beast” Limo is actually a dump truck inside a cleverly designed Cadillac

I’m sure you would have come across news hypes on U.S Presidential limos, popularly known as “The Beast” or Cadillac One or Limo One, trending now ahead of his visit in India tomorrow. If you haven’t, please do read about the limo’s state-of-the-art built and safety. But as motorheads, we must also know the other side of the car isn’t it?? Here, in this post, I tell you it is only we Indians who mouthwater looking at the car for whatever reasons, but American motorheads fairly disown it owing to its clumsy looks and utter impracticality! I wonder how is it gonna overcome Indian road challenges!

Cadillac Beast Presidential Limousine

Cadillac One “The Beast”: The symbol of American Imperialism!

In fact, Americans at present don’t like the President himself either! Obama has undeniably lost his cult he had initially, his foreign policy is criticised like never before, he lost his voice in the Obama Care, and so on. Fortunately he doesn’t have an option to contest again, else he would be chucked off if he contests for a third term. So, it’s like if you had a skirmish with your mom at home, you would want to visit your pal’s house so as to enjoy respect and feel warm. Of course, Mr. Obama is also a human! And visits India for a fresh air!! Moreover, India is culturally reputed for its hospitality and food!

Coming back to “The Beast”, it isn’t a Cadillac STS limousine as we think, it is neither a production car. Not even a limo in true sense. When U.S Secret service requested for a new presidential fleet of limos in 2008 with their delicate set of priorities, General Motors had no option but to use chassis and engines from GMC Topkick/ Chevy Kodiac Truck platform. No one can make a bigger car much bigger than this I guess! As United State’s imperialism has thousands of enemies, and in addition the post 9/11 fear should have led them to make the biggest and heaviest car possible. GM did not name the car specifically, and clever Americans called it as “Cadillac One”!

And that’s why this car looks damn horrible. The design language is pseudo-Cadillac, it doesn’t match the brand’s family design, and more so to a limo’s charm. Many of the components used in this car are sourced from different Cadillac platforms – headlights, side-mirrors, door-handles from Escalade, tail lamp from CTS sedan, etc. Limousines symbolise elegance and modesty at all times, but this Cadillac is an ugly beast. Mercedes and BMW limos are the ideal-types, even Russian and Chinese limos are better looking! The 18-foot long Beast’s mammoth size makes it highly impractical, it can be thwarted by any slightly angled driveway as it happened at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin. This video below will show you the real problem.

Bigger size also kills the limo’s maneuverability and quick U-turns, as in this case at British PM’s home. Getting struck with these snags actually go against this car’s goal to keep the passengers alive long enough to get them somewhere safe. Think of the case in India, where our roads (especially in Delhi) are not that wide or leveled to perfection. The ride height of the car would be extremely problematic. And so, routes are thoroughly inspected and picked. Thus, it isn’t a go-anywhere car in spite of its priorities.

Even on the open roads, its top speed is said to be around 100 kmph, ridiculously slow for a car of this sort. Though the driver is CIA-trained to do somersaults on wheels, the car that he drives is hardly practical. And its rugged built and truck chassis would surely make it less comfortable than a regular limo, even at 100 kmph. Matt Hardigree of Jalopnik feels that “The Beast” was a clumsy solution to a delicate set of priorities that caused more problems that it solved.

Also Read: Chevrolet Suburban – The oldest serving car nameplate in automotive history 

The armour-plated body panels with combinations of steel, aluminum, titanium, and ceramics, defence acessories like gas cannons, a spare oxygen tank to overcome gas attacks, etc. are all cool to hear and mind-boggling. But even more surprising is the fact that this gigantic car is diesel powered, and fuel efficiency is just 8 mpg or 3.4 kmpl!!

Since these limos are to be used overseas as well, accompanying President on his foreign trips, petrol as fuel would face issues due to irregular fuel quality at different countries. And so makers would have preferred diesel. Even with that, they once mistakenly filled a limo’s tank with petrol instead of diesel during Obama’s trip to Israel in 2013! It broke down naturally, and the ‘grand ride’ was forced to ride on a flatbed!!

Dhiyanesh Ravichandran

Editorial consultant (Automotive and Technology), academic, and blogger based in India. He can be reached at

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