So the Secret Service decided to design and then build the car from the ground up. “The car may say Cadillac,” explained one agent, “but very little in that car is Cadillac.” Indeed, it is built by an R&D arm of General Motors in Detroit. But “even the Cadillac emblems on the hood and trunk are supersized. The car is really a truck that looks like a limo. And it drives like one, too.”
— The fuel tank is armor-plated and encased in special foam to protect it from rupture in case of collision-or small-arms fire. And, perhaps not surprisingly, there’s an onboard Halon fire-suppression system.
— What’s in the trunk? Extra weapons, a separate oxygen supply under the president’s seat and emergency medical equipment, including bottles of the president’s blood type in case the ambulance (one always travels in the motorcade) gets cut off.
— The Beast is heavy: The armor plating (on five newer models) is so thick and the doors so heavy that it’s nearly physically impossible for the president to open them from inside.
— The interior is cut off from the outside world and sealed (in case of chemical attack). There’s an encrypted satellite phone inside and a special interactive video system so the president can conduct secure video conferencing with officials in the Situation Room, embassies abroad or the Pentagon.
— The car features military-grade armor (steel, aluminum, titanium and ceramic), surrounded by removable fiberglass sheets on the doors and fenders.
— The Beast has special locking mechanisms, and communications and fire-suppression systems. It rides on special Kevlar-reinforced Goodyear run-flats.
— The Secret Service has been experimenting with special night-vision cameras and monitors (the camera is mounted inside the grille) to be used in a doomsday scenario if, say, the windshield was somehow compromised or views were obstructed.