Come 26th of January 2015 – India’s Republic Day, US President Barack Obama will be the guest of honour at the Red Fort. A man who has broken convention all along, President Obama will take an unconventional approach yet again, and drive to the Red Fort in his own vehicle, the Beast. Now, this is breaking convention as other guests of honour to India’s Republic Day Parade usually accompany the Indian president, the incumbent being Mr. Pranab Mukherjee. This time around, President Mukherjee is expected to accompany President Obama to the R’Day Parade at the Red Fort. As motorheads, you’ll want to know about the Beast, the limousine that will transport the US and Indian presidents to the R’Day Parade. Here are 10 fast facts.
The Beast is Not a Cadillac although it looks like one. Built by General Motors’ Research and Development arm, the presidential limousine is underpinned by the Chevrolet Kodiak commercial truck as it needs to be really rugged to withstand multiple unforseen conditions and situations. It looks like a Cadillac alright but that’s because it uses a mishmash of Chevrolet vehicle design elements on the outside to give it a semblance of grandeur.
There are twelve Beasts in service at any given point of time and all of them are maintained ready to be inducted into presidential service immediately. Each vehicle costs 1.5 million US dollars to build and kit out with advanced armouring and communication equipment. The vehicle measures 18 feet and weighs about 8000 kilograms. Yes, armouring makes cars heavy, very heavy.
When President Obama travels on the road, there are always two Beasts at any given time, one carrying the president himself and the other serving as a decoy. Both Beasts have the same specifications, including the heavy armour plating, and the mandatory vials of the President’s blood group for any exigency loaded into the trunk.
The limousine features military grade armouring, with doors 8 inches thick, so much so that they individually weigh as much as that of of a Boeing 737’s door. The windows have 5 inch thick glass that gets multiple layers of armouring. Essentially, the car that the US President travels is built to withstand some serious firepower.
Although America doesn’t really dig diesels, the presidential limousine is diesel powered. Well, why diesel? The decision to go diesel has multiple reasons. Big low torque low down for pulling the behemoth of the armoured Beast around at crawling speed, and of course the low ignitability of diesel in case of an “incident”are two reasons. Also, clean high octane petrol isn’t available every where and diesel engines are more tolerant to lower quality fuel.
The Beast’s diesel engine is a 6.6 liter V8 Duramax unit that General Motors builds. The same motor powers many of General Motors’ medium duty trucks sold in its home market of the United States. The motor is capable of producing over 400 Bhp and 1000 Nm. A six speed automatic transmission is standard with this engine.
The US President’s car is one SLOW automobile. Well, the nought to hundred Kph run takes all of 15 seconds. Well, that’s slower than most B+ segment hatchbacks sold in India. And the top speed? Well, around 100 Kph is what the Beast will do when you go WOT. Lugging around nearly 8 tons of metal mass does take its toll on performance and this is very apparent on the car that ferries even the US President.
Kitna deti hain? Yes, it’s a diesel alright but a guzzler nonetheless. How does 3.4 Kmpl sound? When given the stick, this figure can drop to as low as 2 Kmpl. Weight, not performance is the real mileage killer here, and with 8 tons to lug around, the Beast is a one heavy car.
The Beast has its own airplane. That’s right, the car is never driven down to any location but is always air freighted into faraway lands, straight from the United States. Basically, the Beast is air lifted to wherever President Obama flies. C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft hauls two Beast limousines, and a Chevrolet Suburban kitted out to be communications center, to every location that the US President intends to hit the road in.
The US President’s car is a seven seater that seats the driver and a secret service agent up front, and the President at the rear. The limousine also has another seat next to the president for a guest, and a bench seat with room for three other personnel. The cabin of the limousine is sealed to prevent any chemical attacks, while an onboard fire extinguishing system is standard. Finally, the run flat tyres of the limousine are Kevlar reinforced and will let the car drive for quite a long distance under duress.