Obama's new limo - ugly but it can fend off asteroids

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You know that Cadillac commercial that says, "When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?"

Well, you might have to be a masochist then to enjoy Barack Obama's new caddy.

It's got auto enthusiasts singing Daphne and Celeste's song "U.G.L.Y." You remember the lyrics: "U.G.L.Y., You ain't got no alibi, You ugly! You ugly! Yo mama says you ugly!"

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New wheels

He's getting a new presidential limo. It's a tradition. The new president gets a new car.

The First Limo - the 2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine - will replace President Bush's 2006 model. As you can imagine, it is completely custom built - not something you can buy in your local showroom (if it hasn't closed down yet).

"The presidential vehicle is built to precise and special specifications, undergoes extreme testing and development, and also incorporates many of the top aspects of Cadillac's 'regular' cars -- such as signature design, hand-cut-and-sewn interiors, etc.," GM spokesman Joanne Krell told CNN.

New design

EngineeringNews has the inside on some of the features.

For largely functional reasons, such as optimal outward visibility, the car is slightly more upright than its predecessor. However, it occupies roughly the same overall footprint on the road as the previous model, with a similar size and proportion.
The rear passenger area includes an extensive executive compartment with ample seating space, outward visibility and useful mobile office features. Major aspects of the cabin are cut and sewn by hand. An embroidered presidential seal is positioned in the center of the rear seat back panel, as well as on each rear door trim panel.

But what about the cool stuff? Tom Clancy evasive action gear? Sidewinders? Chobham armor?

The Beast

Understandably, this is where the details are scarce.

It's like a tank. Secret Service agents are calling it "The Beast." Reportedly the armor surrounding the car is at least five inches thick making it, as some news outlets have put it, "rocket-resistant."  Others have joked it could withstand a collision with an asteroid.

Tangling with a Hummer or almost other macho vehicle on the road, the Beast would win.

The San Francisco Chronicle puts it in perspective noting, "a half-inch of transparent armor is enough to stop a .44 Magnum round at point-blank range; at a thickness of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches, the same material can withstand higher-velocity bullets fired from military assault rifles."

The windows, of course, are bulletproof. The tires reportedly can't get a flat or if they do, it makes no difference, the car keeps rolling. And the interior is like a cocoon - a really safe cocoon reportedly impervious to chemical attacks.

Yuck

Auto buffs aren't liking the looks of it though.

"Whoever came up with the exterior styling for this monstrosity should be barred permanently from ever working in the auto industry again," laments Rex from RexWorld.com.

Hang on there...

Cadillac told Edmunds that the hysteria surrounding the looks of the car were due to unauthorized spy photos of the vehicle that circulated around the Internet.

The final product is much more attractive, they say.

Eh, give it to Joe

So what happens to the old limo, anyway?

Well, you can't just offer it up on Craig'sList. And Joe Biden needs a car. So they're giving it to him.

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