G7 summit: The Beast presidential car - how much does Joe Biden's Cadillac limo weigh and will it fit down Cornwall roads?

As the US President arrives in Cornwall for the G7 summit we look at how he’ll be getting around

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th June 2021, 12:00 pm
President Joe Biden is the second President to use this version of The Beast

US President Joe Biden has arrived in the UK for the G7 Summit, flying in on his dedicated Air Force One jet ahead of the meeting of world leaders.

Having parked the Boeing 747-200B for the duration of the summit, President Biden will be getting around by road and while the 46th President is a confirmed car fan – famous for driving a 1967 Corvette Stingray – for official duties he’s chauffeured around in one of the world’s most imposing cars, known as The Beast.

For his visit to the UK, the President has reportedly flown in two of the custom-built limousines, one for his use and one to act as a security decoy, and it has already been spotted on the roads in the south-west.

The current Cadillac limo is the second version to be given the nickname "The Beast"

Here’s everything you need to know about this very special vehicle.

What kind of car is ‘The Beast’?

The Beast is a special project built specifically for the President and, as such, isn’t based on any standard roadgoing model. It’s built by American car maker Cadillac and shares its grille style with the brand’s Escala concept car, while the headlights are similar to those on the previous generation Escalade SUV, but it doesn’t actually share parts with any other model.

How big is The Beast?

Beneath the shining bodywork, The Beast is heavily armoured

Underneath, The Beast is based on a heavy-duty truck chassis and powered by a truck-sourced 5.0-litre diesel engine. From bumper to bumper it measures a massive 18 feet long and weighs somewhere between 6.5 and eight tonnes.

All that weight means the big machine isn’t exactly sprightly, taking a reported 15 seconds to reach 60 miles an hour.

And the length can cause problems too, as Barack Obama found when his previous version of The Beast got beached on the steep entrance road to the US embassy in Dublin.

That size and lack of manoeuvrability could also prove a struggle if the presidential motorcade takes on Cornwall's famous twisting lanes but as long as it sticks to the main routes President Biden should avoid any embarassing jams.

How much does The Beast cost?

A car of this size and specification doesn’t come cheap, with the current model believed to have cost in the region of £1.1 million when it was built for former President Donald Trump in 2018. That's still a fair whack cheaper than this bespoke Rolls-Royce, although the Rolls does feature a built-in cocktail bar.

Is The Beast armoured?

Oh yes and being armour-plated and bulletproof is just the start of The Beast’s security measures.

As befits a car designed to protect one of the world’s most powerful men, The Beast’s bodywork is made from military grade materials designed to withstand gunfire and explosions, and the fuel tank is similarly blast-proof. The doors are eight-inch thick armour plating and the sealed windows made of five-inch thick bulletproof glass. Even the tyres are designed to withstand attack thanks to Kevlar reinforcement, and they feature run-flat technology.

In addition, the car packs smoke screen and tear gas dispensers into the boot to repel attacks and, if that isn’t Bond villain enough, the door handles are rigged to give a 120-volt electric shock at the flick of a switch.

The passenger cabin is sealed against chemical attack and has its own oxygen supply to keep passengers safe, plus satellite phone links to the Pentagon and Vice President’s office. Emergency supplies of the President’s blood type are kept on board, presumably separately from the shotguns and tear gas cannons the car also carries.

Driving such a massive vehicle with such a precious cargo isn’t trusted to just anyone and The Beast is piloted by specially trained Secret Service staff.