US Secret Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
For the president of the United of the States, protection is a big part of life, especially when it comes to travelling. So, in honor of President’s Day and Direct’s 25th anniversary, here are 25 crazy facts about presidential rides.
1. William Howard Taft was the first president to have an official White House car; he was also the first president to convert the stables in the White House to a four-car garage. We think the horses were probably pretty thrilled, and the president could finally go more than 25 mph.
2. You know who wouldn’t want to go more than 25 mph? President Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) who, according to the Associated Press, told his driver not to exceed 16 mph around Washington.
3. Presidents didn’t actually have “special” cars in the beginning of the automotive age.
4. It wasn’t until 1939 that the first armored car entered the Secret Service fleet when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office.
5. After Roosevelt survived an assassination attempt in 1933, it seemed necessary to add more protection than the average convertible offered. Enter the “Sunshine Special,” which boasted an armored body and bulletproof glass. It was nicknamed the “Sunshine Special” because the top was often down, and because apparently, the car was a very happy one.
6. Because Roosevelt suffered from paralysis due to polio, he had his cars equipped with hand controls. The “Sunshine Special” was no exception.
7. When President Truman came into office, he replaced the “Sunshine Special” with a stretched 1950 Cosmopolitan.
8. It was modified in 1954 with a “bubbletop” canopy so that President Dwight Eisenhower could be seen in parades, even while it was raining.
9. The car then picked up the nickname, “Bubbletop.” Perhaps this was the inspiration for the 2001 blockbuster movie, Bubble Boy? We may never know.
10. A 1961 Lincoln Continental SS-100-X replaced Truman’s car, which is better known as the car that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in.
11. Strangely enough, this car would stay in service for thirteen years after this tragic event.
12. Presidents Johnson and Nixon used the SS-100-X; the car was recycled and rebuilt with more armor since it was cheaper than building a completely new one.
13. The car was repainted black because they believed that the previously painted blue would remind people of the assassination.
14. Revving our engine up in time a bit, President Bush’s Lincoln Town Car was built on a truck frame for extra stiffness. You can take the President out of Texas, but you apparently can’t take Texas out of the President.
15. Following in his father’s footsteps, before he became President, George W. Bush’s car was a 2009 Ford F-150 King Ranch 4×4 Supercrew. The bigger the truck, the better!
16. Obama’s ride is a colossal shield on wheels made of steel, aluminum, titanium and ceramic. It’s no wonder that it’s been nicknamed “The Beast”.
17. A lot of the information about “The Beast” is classified, including the technology behind the 5-inch thick bulletproof windows, the price of the car, and the total weight. Maybe it’s out of consideration for the car – no one likes being judged for their weight!
18. Only the driver’s window opens on this particular model, and just by three inches. No drive-through cheeseburgers for Mr. Obama!
19. The fuel tank is sealed with foam, making it immune to explosions, even if it takes a direct hit.
20. “The Beast” is 18 feet long and 5’10” tall, which means that both the president and first lady have to duck a little to get in. President Obama is 6’1” and Michelle Obama is 5’11”—dunking on either one of them also sounds difficult.
21. A built-in satellite phone in the car has a direct line to Vice President Biden and the Pentagon. Now, especially, there should be no excuse to butt-dial the Pentagon.
22. The doors of “The Beast” are eight inches thick and are as heavy as a 757 plane’s cabin door. The CIA now includes door opening as part of their daily workouts.
23. Not only does the president have his own plane, his car has its own as well. A C-17 Globemaster plane transports the car to wherever the president is travelling to. This car has better travel accommodations than many celebrities.
24. “The Beast” is well equipped to handle many a situation gone south. The trunk holds everything from fire-fighting equipment to an oxygen tank to blood in the president’s blood type. You can call it Dr. Beast from now on.
25. Earlier this year, Obama appeared on Jerry Seinfeld’s show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” where he drove his other car – a 1963 Corvette Stingray. It wore a bumper sticker that said, “My other car is a 5 ton bulletproof limousine”.
It’s clear to see that these guys had a ton of security when it came to their cars. Ever felt like your ride could use some extra protection? Get yours today with a cheap car insurance policy from Direct Auto & Life Insurance.
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