As Americans celebrate the inauguration of a new president in Washington next week, another new, high-security Cadillac will grace Pennsylvania Avenue to lead the proceedings.
President Barack Obama will ride in an all-new Cadillac Presidential Limousine, continuing a long tradition of Cadillac limousines that have served many US presidents.
“Cadillac is honoured to again provide a new Presidential Limousine,” says Cadillac/Premium Channel North America vice-president Mark McNabb.
The latest Cadillac Presidential Limousine is a new design, succeeding the DTS Presidential Limousine that debuted in 2004.
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 centre of the rear seat back panel, as well as on each rear door trim panel.
Presidential seals are also affixed to the exterior rear doors.
The US flag is placed on the right front fender, and the presidential standard is located on the left front fender when the president travels in the vehicle.
High-tech LED spotlights illuminate the flags at night.
Cadillac, a General Motors brand, has built limousines and special vehicles for US presidents, diplomats, ambassadors and foreign dignitaries since the early twentieth century.
One of the first chief executives to use a Cadillac was President Woodrow Wilson, who rode through the streets of Boston during a World War I victory parade in 1919.
A lavish 1928 Cadillac town car was used in the Calvin Coolidge administration.
In 1938, two Cadillac convertibles, dubbed the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, were delivered to the US government.
Named after the great ocean liners of the time, the vehicles were 6,5-m long, weighed 3,48 t and were equipped with a full ammunition arsenal, two-way radios and heavy-duty generators.
The two Queens served Presidents Franklin D Roosevelt, Harry S Truman and Dwight D Eisenhower.
In 1956, the Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth II convertibles replaced the original series.
The vehicles were slightly smaller, but like their predecessors, were fully armoured and featured state-of-the art communications.
Moreover, the vehicles were fitted with narrow rims inside the tire in case the tires were shot out.
The Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth II served not only President Eisenhower, but also Presidents John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson. (In 1965, reports CNN, Johnson was the first president to ride in a bulletproof limosine in an inaugural parade, less than two years after his predecessor, Kennedy, was shot and killed while riding in an open car.)
Both vehicles were retired in 1968.
The Ronald W Reagan administration was delivered a 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine, and a Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham-Presidential Series was delivered to the William J Clinton administration in 1993.
Unlike previous models that typically were Cadillac cars adapted and modified by independent limousine companies, the 1993 Presidential Brougham was designed, developed and manufactured totally within General Motors.
This included an extensive set of security measures to maintain confidentiality, a tradition that continues today.
Cadillac has produced two presidential limousines this decade that remain in service. The first was a Deville Presidential model delivered to President George W Bush in 2001.
In 2004, President Bush debuted with a new DTS Presidential model.