In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt - the 26th President of the United States - became the first American head of state to travel in a US government automobile. The car was a white Stanley Steamer - an open steam-powered vehicle, in which the steam was generated in a vertical fire-tube boiler mounted beneath the seat. Not the kind of vehicle that can foil terrorist attacks.
When Barack Obama lands in Delhi for the Republic Day celebrations, he will be taken along the city's prime esplanade in a vehicle fitted with a special night-vision system, tear gas cannons, steel wheels, a blood bank holding the President's blood type and its own oxygen supply. Obama's Cadillac limousine, or the "Beast", as the US Secret Service likes to call it, will be used to ferry him during the course of his visit to India. It is likely that Obama will break protocol and avoid hopping into counterpart Pranab Mukherjee's black Mercedes-Benz S600 for the short ride to Rajpath from the Rashtrapati Bhawan, but, rest assured, the "Beast" will always be around. Mukherjee's ride is a special car in its own right, complete with a ballistic-resistant exterior. It can also survive gun shots and grenades. But obviously, it is not as terror-proof as Obama's vehicle is.
Obama's, however, is not the only fortress on wheels that will trundle down Rajpath. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, long used to the Mahindra Scorpio before making 7 Race Course Road his home, now travels in a BMW 7-Series 760Li Security Edition. Since 2003, the prime minister of India has used versions of this super-fortified car that can withstand attacks from blunt objects, handguns and AK-47s. Here is a comparison between Obama's Cadillac and Modi's BMW.
> Made of titanium, ceramic, steel and aluminum, the Beast has 8-inch thick armour-plated doors. They weigh as much as the cabin door of a Boeing 757 jet.
> It possesses, run-flat tyres reinforced with Kevlar. They are shred and puncture resistant, with steel rims underneath. The car can easily survive if the tyres are blown away. Thanks to the steel rims, the car can drive at high speeds even without the tyres.
> It is equipped with an advanced fire-fighting system, night-vision cameras and tear gas cannons
> The boot has a bank of the President's blood type and an oxygen supply system.
> Inside the car, the President has access to a state of the art satellite phone, which can be connected to the Pentagon and the White House.
> It has also been speculated that the car can fire infrared smoke grenade, in case it is attacked by a rocket propelled grenade or missile.
> It is also speculated that the car's driver has access to a special video system that allows him to drive in darkness, smoke and other no-visibility conditions.
Engine: 8,000 cc (approx)
Power: 800 bhp
Mileage: 3.4 kmpl
0-100 kmph: 15 seconds
Top Speed: 150 kmph
Price: Rs 8 crore
> The car is fully compliant with VR7 grade of ballistic protection and parts of it comply with a higher VR9 grade of protection as well.
> The cabin of the car can turn into a gas-safe chamber in case of a gas attack and is also equipped with a back-up oxygen tank.
> It has a self-sealing fuel tank that cannot explode in any circumstances. Also on board, similar to Obama's car, is a fire-fighting system, emergency exit and thick bullet-proof windows.
> It also has armour plates beneath to withstand mines and bombs.
> It can run on flat tyres for several kilometres and possesses advanced heat sensors to provide protection from bombs and missiles.
> Modi's BMW is considerably lighter than Obama's Cadillac. making it easier to maneuver. However, the Cadillac One generates greater momentum.
Engine: 5,972 cc
Power: 544 bhp
Mileage: 4.5-7.46 kmpl
0-100 kmph: 6.1 seconds
Top Speed: 210 kmph
Price: Rs 5 crore