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Secret Service issues call for next presidential limousine

Fri, 14 Mar 2014

The Secret Service is mulling a replacement for Barack Obama's presidential limousine, the Cadillac-styled vehicle lovingly nicknamed "The Beast."

News of the new limousine first reached the Internet via, the official site for Federal Business Opportunities, which provides listings and contracts for various government projects. (Some other listings included cleaning the kitchens at Okinawa, Coast Guard ship repair, and "Phacoemulsification Surgical Equipment.") It calls for a four-phase development program, which is seemingly straightforward. Phase 1 is armor development -- which is currently underway. Phase 2, installing said armor on a car and testing it. Phase 3 is "focused on automotive validation." Phase 4 is putting it into production. Bidding for the contract is due by April 7th, and relies on factors such as technical proficiency, past performance -- including "business-like concern for the interests of the customer" -- and a security clearance.

But what's interesting is that the bidding is open to any company that has its headquarters in America. GM has held the exclusive presidential limousine rights for the past 30 years, starting with Ronald Reagan's Cadillac Fleetwood. But, could we see a return to Lincoln power? (A friend who works at Ford suggested a stretched MKZ, which is a terrible idea.) Chrysler's headquarters are still in Auburn Hills -- maybe a stretched 300C on a Ram 3500? Could we see a Tesla limousine? That would be the ultimate Green Party coup; there would be no better way to firm up our environmental credentials.

Currently, the Beast rides on a Chevrolet Kodiak chassis with bits and pieces from existing Cadillacs. It needs it, too -- with armor five inches thick and life-support systems within, it weighs something to the tune of 10,000 pounds. The Beast entered service at the same time as President Obama, making its first appearance alongside his inauguration in 2009; seven years later, it still serves the president's office faithfully. Any new limousine will need to be ready to go by 2017, when we swear in our new Commander-In-Chief.

By Blake Z. Rong