President Barack Obama jokingly told an audience at the United Autoworkers-General Motors Center for Human Resources in Detroit on Wednesday that next year he must give up “the Beast”—which is the nickname for the $1.5 million limousine the Secret Service chauffeurs the president around in.
“But I have come to Detroit for another reason, as well,” Obama said. “I already drive in a great American car, which we affectionately know as the Beast. “Next year I’ve got to give it up. I’m saying goodbye to the Beast.
“So I figured that I needed to do a little browsing now at the Detroit Auto Show,” Obama said. “I know they’ve got auto shows in Paris and Frankfurt and Tokyo. But there’s only one Motor City. There’s only one Detroit. And if you’re looking for the world’s best cars and the workers who make those cars, you need to be in Detroit, Michigan. That’s why I’m here.”
In an Oct. 17, 2013 story, Autoweek reported on some of the details of the president’s limo—which is actually a fleet of a dozen identical cars.
Here are some highlights from Autoweek’s story:
“It’s called ‘The Beast,’ but it might surprise you to learn that President Barack Obama’s massive Cadillac isn’t really a Cadillac. And there’s not one, but a dozen, in the highly classified motor pool, each costing more than $1 million. The cars travel with their own mechanic, an armed federal agent who carries a vast arsenal of electronic diagnostic devices and tools.
“We’ve come a long way since JFK’s opentop Lincoln. Until only recently, the Secret Service bought the presidential limousines off the lot, then modified them with super-secret aftermarket products and systems. All that changed when George W. Bush became president. The reason? The stock presidential limos kept breaking down. All the extras the agency added to each vehicle created excess stress and weight beyond the real operational limits of the original cars. As a result, the transmissions often failed, ‘and the brakes would last about two trips,’ said one veteran agent. ‘The cars were just too heavy, and they were a terror to drive, and even harder to stop.’ So the Secret Service decided to design and then build the car from the ground up.”
According to Autoweek, the Beast gets only 3.7 miles to the gallon.