Sometimes I wonder how US Presidents used to get around. Before the invention of the limousine, the private jet, or even the car, what exactly set the President's mode of transportation apart from the mode of the regular citizen? Armored cars are now considered almost essential for all high-profile figures in dangerous parts of the world. A Presidential Limousine has become virtually synonymous with the word "Armored Car," in essence it is a vehicle of hardcore protection.
The Presidential limousine may seem like a recent invention, something that came about within the past few Presidential terms. This, however, is a misconception. Officially, the first President to ride in what has become known as the Presidential limousine was Woodrow Wilson. Taking the streets during a parade celebrating the US victory in World War I, he was honoring the end of the war and, unknowingly, starting the beginning of a transportation tradition.
Protecting world leaders is a serious business and there are only a handful of companies around the world with the specialist engineering skills. One of the first armored cars for a political leader is thought to have been a limousine built by engineering firm O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt for President Harry S. Truman in 1949. Today, the technology has greatly moved on - and it has been shown to save lives in the worst case scenarios. President George W Bush's vehicle is thought to be the most advanced ever.
Vehicle security works on three basic principles: • Protection at point of attack • Ability to evade and escape • Counter-measures
Models openly advertised as having "presidential standard" security come fitted with armor around the battery, radiator, engine block and systems to automatically seal the fuel tank to prevent explosions. Another measure appearing in the top-of-the-range models is night vision systems. The Presidential limousine is sometimes taken to overseas stops where secure transportation is needed. Sometimes, the president uses transportation that is already in the country.Limousines have long been viewed as a pinnacle of success. Presidential limousines with bullet proof glass and numerous security features are produced by automotive manufacturers and presented to the sitting president. Cadillac limousines have been a favorite choice of U.S. Presidents throughout the years as is illustrated by President Bush's new Cadillac DTS Limousine.
It doesn't really matter - the last Presidential limo was a Cadillac and the next one will be too. It's standard protocol for the head of State to drive a vehicle from their country's most prestigious automotive manufacturer. In Britain, that's a Jaguar, and in many countries it's a shared gig - Peugeot and Renault in France, BMW and Mercedes in Germany, and in Japan, Emperor Akihito is currently driven in a Nissan Prince Royal and there's a suitably up market Toyota under development.
As we are saying in previous articles (see this related Limousine article) limousine is a luxury car which is often associated with the wealthy and hardcore protection. Therefore limousines are owned not only by individuals, many are owned by governments to transport senior politicians, by large companies to transport executives, or by broadcasters to transport guests.
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