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The All-New 2001 Cadillac DeVille Presidential Limousine

Take a gander...check it out. YOU paid for it (if you pay taxes to Uncle Sam!). Looking more like a tank than a car, the new DeVille limo has drawn some criticism for its "militaristic" look. Used by President Bush for the first time in the recent Inaugural Parade, the ominous-looking Caddy conversion looked very capable and frightening at the same time. "Functional" is probably an understatement! The car is the first in a series to fill the White House fleet, though the actual number of cars ordered is a secret. Parade cars of all kinds have unique needs. They must be able to idle for very long times and drive at very low speeds for long periods of time without overheating, not an easy thing in a vehicle this size and weight. The powerful V8 engine is probably based on the General Motors 502 cubic inch marine engine block. It's the largest Presidential limo ever built, both inside and out. President Clinton did say that the work space in the rear was huge and much more comfortable than the previous model. This limo was delivered to the White House fleet about a week before President Bush took office, so President Clinton got to road test it for a few days (at least he didn't take it with him when he left Washington!). The last limos were delivered for White House use by Cadillac in 1993. Those three vehicles delivered are estimated to have cost a total of near $10 million. We can guess some of the defensive and offensive items on-board. Run-flat, bullet-proof tires. Bullet-proof and shatter-proof glass all around. Layers of kevlar and other high-strength, blast- and bullet-proof materials under all of the car's sheetmetal from roof to under-carriage. Gun ports. Tear gas cannons. Redundant state-of-the-art communications systems. We do know there are TVs, VCRs and CD players in the rear for the passengers' enjoyment. The "retired" cars from the White House fleet are sent to US government stations around the nation and the world for use by ambassadors and other VIP's and dignitaries as they are replaced by these new models. Cars from the 1960s are still in use by the US government around the world. We can guess there are two of these new limos in the White House motor pool. One is kept in DC, and another is flown ahead to wherever the President is traveling in a military C47 transport plane, arriving just before Air Force One. Some of the conversion work is completed by O'Gara, Hess and Eisenhardt, a company which in various forms has been building VIP transportation for the government for almost 100 years. All the work is overseen by the Secret Service and no one without proper credentials gets too close to any of the cars. When Clint Eastwood directed and starred in IN THE LINE OF FIRE, a movie about a Secret Service agent, he tried to get the government to loan his production company one of the real limos for use in the film. The agency declined that request, though they did give much technical assistance to the production...but no one was spending any time with the car other than officials. The agency does not want anyone getting too good a look at the vehicle's armoring, weapons and other systems. But Eastwood did finally fool the government...turns out the company which built the actual Presidential limo keeps a look-alike model on-hand for their own use, trade shows and the like...and that's the car Eastwood used in the move, visually a double of the real thing! When the Secret Service agents helping with the filming saw the car on the set for the first time, they couldn't believe their eyes! They thought Eastwood had indeed gotten the actual Presidential limo for his film! It wasn't the real McCoy...but Eastwood fooled the Secret Service...and the rest of us, too! And if you think this car is interesting as far as weaponry and other cool stuff, if you ever get a chance to see a Presidential motorcade, check out one of the Chevy Suburbans directly behind the President's car. Inside you'll see a group of very scary-looking guys dressed in scary-looking SWAT-like costumes, carrying a bunch of scary-looking weapons. One can only image the arsenal in those vehicles! Years ago, while working as a volunteer in election campaigns (I thought I was the only Democrat in Orange County, CA), I had the chance to ride in such motorcades twice. The Secret Service cars were, as they say, literally bristling with every kind of offensive weapon you can imagine which would fit into the trunk. I'll never forget being in the back seat of one of the cars and seeing an M16 rifle stuffed into the space between the seat and the doors! And was loaded, and the guy sitting next to me would use it in an instant! And that's not even to mention the four-wheel drive van with US government plates which contains an array of communications equipment that would make a TV station proud. And of course at the rear of any Presidential motorcade is a paramedic-equipped ambulance. And remember...EVERY US President gets this treatment, regardless of party affiliation! On a personal note, I always found the Secret Service agents to  be very friendly, surprisingly normal people with very difficult, tiring jobs.

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