The Beast, the armored limousine Biden will use at Queen’s funeral


When President Joe Biden arrives at Westminster Abbey on Monday, he will be just one of the few foreign leaders to be allowed to use his or her own ground transportation to and from Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

But unlike most visitors to London from abroad, Mr Biden will not use the services of a local car service or hire a vehicle from a fleet of rental cars.

Instead, the US president will travel in the same custom, armored state car that transports him on every trip away from the White House, abroad or inland.

Called “The Beast” by the Secret Service agents tasked with operating it, the Secret Service’s official code name is “Stagecoach”.

While it’s built with the familiar grille, headlights, and taillights used on the Cadillac vehicles available to every consumer, it’s not based on a production vehicle currently rolling off the Detroit assembly lines.

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The last time a president’s armored vehicle was based on a car you could buy from a dealer was in 2001, when then-President Bill Clinton used a highly modified Cadillac Fleetwood state car purchased in 1993 to replace a highly modified Lincoln Town Car used by its predecessor, George HW Bush.

When Mr. Bush’s son, George W. Bush, assumed the presidency in January 2001, the car that took him to his inauguration and drove him around the world for the next eight years was not based on a converted consumer car, because Cadillac stopped making cars suitable for conversion into presidential transports.

Since the younger Bush took office, the president’s car has remained a Cadillac. But while the next presidents of the limousines — including Mr. Biden — still wear the Cadillac decal on the grille, all similarities between the presidential vehicle and those luxury vehicles end there.

Unlike the armored Range Rover Sentinels or Jaguar XJ sedans used by British Prime Ministers, the car used by the President of the United States is completely custom-built and built to Secret Service specifications.

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According to Car and Driver, the Cadillac-badged limousine that Mr. Biden began using when he assumed the presidency was delivered to Secret Service in 2018 is built on a GMC TopKick chassis intended for medium-duty commercial vehicles.

Road and Track magazine described the vehicle as “a simple evolution of the old model with more current Cadillac design elements, such as an Escalade sedan”. Multiple outlets have reported that the vehicle weight is somewhere between 20,000 pounds.

The Secret Service did not respond to a request for information about the car’s capabilities when asked by UKTN (they rarely comment on the protection of the president) but what is known about the car is that it has impressive features intended to protect the occupant in all kinds of situations.

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The car is fully armored with tires designed to keep the car moving even if all four wheels are shot. It has night vision capabilities and can spread smoke screens and oil spills to confuse anyone out to chase it.

According to NBC, the vehicle’s armor consists of aluminum, ceramic and steel and can be as thick as eight inches in some areas.

The windows of the car do not open and they are made of five centimeters thick bullet-resistant glass. And the doors of the car would be as heavy as those of a Boeing passenger plane.

It’s also hermetically sealed and soundproofed – the interior has speakers so the occupants can hear what’s happening outside the car – and has a supply of oxygen in the event of a chemical or biological attack.


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