The parade for the inauguration of new US President Barack Obama is to be held on 20th January. The 5,000 seats for the ceremony were sold out within minutes. Those watching the event live in Washington and on TV will also witness another debut: the new presidential limousine specially built by Cadillac and nicknamed 'The Beast'.
The 'most valuable asset' (i.e. Obama) is to be ferried around in an armour-plated hi-tech limo, the precise details of which are not in the public domain, because General Motors have been sworn to utmost secrecy. In a press release, they have stated that it is "the most technologically advanced protection vehicle in the world". The Cadillac could easily take centre stage in a James Bond movie. It is assumed that the vehicle has been specially kitted out with a revolutionary encrypted communication system, bullet-proof glass, armoured panels and its own separate oxygen supply so the occupants remain safe from a chemical attack. The tyres have such a low profile that, even in the event of a rocket impact, the Cadillac would still be drivable.
David Caldwell from General Motors did, however, impart this gem to a BBC reporter: "One of the specifications is that we don't talk about the specifications." Asked about the extras, he went so far as to reveal that the vehicle came equipped with "state-of-the-art electronics", whatever that magic formulation might imply. This car differs from a James Bond film prop in one distinguishing feature - the presidential pennants flap majestically in the wind. Whether these are also bullet-proof, we'll probably never know.