President Donald Trump's new wheels – the latest armoured presidential limousine, dubbed 'The Beast' – has been caught testing at General Motors' Milford Proving Grounds in the outskirts of Detroit.
Heavily disguised with a camouflage wrap, it is expected no other carmaker will ape the design of the bespoke, near-10 tonne, limo with a production cost of around $A2 million each.
Not a radical departure in styling from the previous presidential vehicle, which was introduced in 2009 when Barack Obama was inaugurated, the new Beast is expected to go into duty from late-2017.
Similar to the outgoing vehicle, the contract for the new vehicle was awarded to General Motors (GM) and, again, it outwardly looks like a Cadillac.
The Beast wears a modern Cadillac grille up front, as well as vertical-style headlights and tail-lights reminiscent of the CT6 sedan, albeit in a stretched and pumped-up bodystyle.
Outwardly, the new car shares the long bonnet and short tail of the 2009 car with school bus-sourced wheels and bullet-resistant tyres to keep the overall shape in proportion.
Structurally, the presidential limo needs to be as secure as a bank vault, meaning its armour-plated panels sit on a four-wheel drive ladder-frame chassis sourced from one of GM’s commercial vehicles.
The 2009 model had the underpinnings of the Chevrolet Kodiak (aka GMC Topkick) medium-duty truck, but with GM quitting the truck business in 2009, what is underneath the latest Beast is not yet known.
President Trump’s ride could be built on a new bespoke platform, or feature the same underpinnings as the previous vehicle, but suspension will need to be substantially upgraded from regular production components to accommodate the increased weight from armour-plating, as well as what is likely to be a bevy of security measures including bullet-proof glass, bomb-proof doors and its own air-filtering system.
The presidential limo is expected to keep its large-capacity turbo-diesel engine – the 2009 model was believed to have a 272kW/895Nm 6.6-litre Duramax V8 unit – because diesel fuel has less chance of igniting than petrol.
GM has since upgraded the Duramax engine with outputs reaching 595kW/1238Nm and the ability to tune it up to 736kW/1428Nm.
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