Presidential Limo

Watching the goings on in Washington, believe I heard a commentator say the doors on the new limo cannot be opened by the President from the inside. Assuming correct, why not?

Speculation, but perhaps there is a solid barrier between the outside of the door and the inside? So that the actual car door that we’re familiar with is entirely on the outside.

I’ve come to doubt small talk from [del]talking airheads[/del] news commentators who are often fed tidbits by producers do really do not do proper research anymore.

The Secret Service has not disclosed how the doors are opened. What has been disclosed is the doors are so heavy that any one person sitting inside (the President) cannot open the doors on their own, the same way you open your own vehicle door from the inside. It is reported the doors are the same weight as a Boeing 757 cabin door.

Caught a brief glimpse while they were entering the car this morning, and the doors are immensely thick.


And how much does a 757 cabin door weigh, does anyone know?

Seems like one of those factoids that are designed to sound impressive, but really aren’t. Airliners are mostly aluminum. It’s not at all surprising that an armored truck door would be heavier. (The Presidential “limo” is really a custom truck made up to look like a limo.)

I’d WAG a 757 main entry door at about 150 lbs. We never have to lift it as a unit, but swinging it open and closed horizontally is a completely manual process so you can feel all the mass.

Widebody doors are much heavier and if they move on vertical tracks are counterbalanced by torsion springs like a garage door.

The escape slide on a 737 door weighs close to 80 pounds itself. The 757 door is virtually the same with a much bigger slide to accommodate the increased height of 757 over the 737. I would guess 350 to 400 pounds. I can find out the exact weight on Monday, one of the guys on my crew at the big airplane company was a door rigger for many years on the 757 assembly line.

I have no idea if that is correct, i can understand not wanting the president to make a panic exit in a bad situation, but you also dont want him trapped inside in a situation where no one else has the capacity to let him out.

As far as the posts that the door is much too heavy for the president to open from the inside, thats bollocks, they are not that heavy.
They are armored, but it isnt solid condensed lead from the core of jupiter or something.
And you are not lifting it up, you are just pushing it outwards, on hinges.

My guess would be another uneducated media mumble about him being unable to open the door.

Can you imagine that, if the limo crashed and caught fire?
President burns in fiery crash cause he wasnt allowed to open the door

They’re keeping the child safety latches set that way; after all, we’re talking President Trump. :wink:

Moderator Note

No political pot-shots in GQ, please.

Wiki on the current (and previous) Presidential limos:

A couple things I found interesting: a) although bodied as a stretched Cadillac sedan, the vehicle is believed to be actually based on the chassis of a GMC Topkick medium-duty truck; b) if the Wiki article is correct, the vehicle has such a poor power-to-weight ratio that top end is only about 60 MPH.

The article mentions that there are no external keyholes for the doors and the method of opening them is classified. It doesn’t say anything about how the doors are opened from the inside.

The list of auxiliary equipment is equally interesting (2 pints of the President’s blood type(!), among other things).

Forward cabin doors of a DC-10/KC-10 weigh 275lbs; mid-cabin doors are pushing 350lbs with the slide rafts installed. They open inward and upward, and have torsion springs & cables rigged to counter the weight of the door. It’s still a 2-person lift to manually open them (although in a true “WE NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS AIRPLANE NOW!!” scenario, I’m sure one person will have enough fear & adrenaline muscles to get the door open.

While the child safety latches comment was a joke, I’ve served on a personal security detachment where we did set those on up-armored SUVs when we weren’t confidant that our charge wouldn’t try to hop out on their own.

Disembarking from a vehicle is one moment where a VIP is at their most vulnerable, and security officers like to interpose their body to create a triangular area between the body of the car, themselves and the door for a VIP to get their footing before they start moving.

I’m amused that the driver’s window does open for the purpose of paying tolls.

“I’m also paying for the cars behind me.” :smiley:

The windows are made from Lexan (or other brand) polycarbonate, are very thick and cannot be opened in either a fully armored limo or a light-armored vehicle. As I recall, the doors on the old Caddy armored cars for ambassadors weighed around 350 pounds and were a PITA to get open.

Perhaps the Secret Service guys in the front black SUV pay.

I think you’re right to question that statement. The sources it cites don’t quite support it. One source says the car is limited to 60 mph but it doesn’t say what the limiting factor is. The other source just says that it goes from 0-60 mph pretty well; it doesn’t say 60 miles per hour is the top speed. I’m not sure that 60 mph is really the limit. If it is the limit, we don’t know why it’s the limit.

I’d be surprised if the weight were really the limiting factor on its speed. Generally, a car’s top speed is limited either by (1) power, (2) gearing, or (3) mechanical or electronic governors.

A car’s top speed is power limited if, on a straight and level track, at the point in the engine’s torque curve where it makes the most power, all of that power is consumed by drag and rolling resistance. Increasing weight increases rolling resistance but at higher speeds, aerodynamic forces tend to consume more power than rolling resistance. Adding weight greatly affects how long it takes to get up to speed but it doesn’t affect top speed nearly as much. I’d be surprised if weight were the real limiting factor in the presidential limo’s speed. The engine is likely derived from the gas engines in GM’s heavy duty pickups. Those pickups can tow roughly as much as the presidential limo is reported to weigh and they can tow at higher speeds than 60 mph. Pickup trucks towing trailers probably also have worse coefficients of aerodynamic drag than the presidential limo. I would expect the presidential limo to be faster if it were power limited.

If it’s limited to 60 mph due to governors, one might ask why the engineers chose that speed. Maybe they are concerned about the tires failing at higher speeds under that much weight. Maybe the brakes can’t reliably stop the weight from higher speeds. If these are the limitations, increasing the power doesn’t help you at all so it would be wrong to say that the power to weight ratio is the problem.

It’s possible the limit is gearing. If you want a heavy gas car to accelerate quickly, you use shorter overall gearing. That might mean that it accelerates quickly enough but that in its top gear, it hits the engine’s redline at only 60 mph. With different gearing, it might have the power to go faster but that choice might require taller gearing that would hurt acceleration. This could just mean that engineers chose gearing that best balanced top speed and acceleration, fuel economy be damned.

Of course, it could also be a lot faster than they are saying. They just know the president gets mad when they take it drag racing so they stay hush hush about it. :slight_smile:

Tired and Cranky, you are almost certainly correct. It also may have short gears to get around in the city ‘quickly’. Doubt the president does too many road trips in it :slight_smile:

I wonder, what is the longest trip by car a typical US president takes? Depends on closest helicopter pads I suppose.

I would put my money on FDR.