Obama Rolls to White House in 'Cadillac One' by GM


General Motors hopes to bask in President-elect Barack Obama's style when he takes his inaugural ride down Pennsylvania Avenue in a presidential limousine built by Cadillac (Stock Quote: GM).

Not to say that the brief ride Tuesday will overcome all the negative fallout from the four congressional hearings in D.C. at which GM's future -- or lack of a future -- was discussed ad infinitum.

But plenty of people say Obama's use of a Blackberry helps its maker Research In Motion (Stock Quote: RIMM). So why shouldn't this ride, watched by millions, help GM?

Obama's Cadillac has a new design, one that GM calls "assertive, modern and elegant."

While it's hard for a limo to avoid being long and black, "one thing about limos is they do reflect the era in which they serve, so we used elements that have an influence from our regular cars," says Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell.

For instance, Obama's limo has a dual-textured grille, like the ones available on the CTS sport sedan and Escalade. And major aspects of the cabin are cut and sewn by hand -- just as they are in the CTS.

It is not, however, the same Cadillac you might buy. The rear passenger area includes a large executive compartment with extra seating and office features. The car underwent an extreme testing regime, features several presidential seals and has confidential security provisions.

As compared with the previous model presidential limo, delivered in 2005, this one has "a more contemporary design, more expressive, with larger glass areas," Caldwell says. Of course, the glass is tinted so that occupants see out, but outsiders can't see in. So unless the Obamas get out and walk despite the predicted frosty temperatures, the millions gathered along the inauguration parade route probably won't see them at all.


Woodrow Wilson was among the first presidents to greet crowds from a Cadillac limousine. He rode through Boston during a World War I victory parade in 1919. Most of the presidents who followed also rode in Cadillacs. President Dwight Eisenhower, for instance, rode in one of the first Eldorados ever produced in his 1953 inaugural parade. Caldwell notes, however, that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy marked "the end of an era as far as presidents riding in open cars."

By the way, GM is an equal-opportunity limo provider. The car was delivered to the Secret Service before the November election and would have accommodated John McCain had he been elected president.

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