Washington, Nov 15 : President-elect Barack Obama will be handed the keys to what looks to be the most potent presidential limousine ever to carry an American Head of State, a vehicle that can even withstand a direct hit from an asteroid.
Spy photos taken at an undisclosed location, and obtained by FOXNews.com, show a vehicle undergoing testing that is believed to be the next version of "Cadillac One," the unofficial code name of the President's limousine.
The Secret Service did confirm that such a vehicle is in development by General Motors, adding only that it will afford "the highest level of protection." The keys will be handed over to Obama after he moves to the White House in January.
At first glance, the unfinished limo looks a lot like the current model used for ferrying President Bush around town: an armored Cadillac sedan with a modest stretch job, raised roof line, and mounts on the front fenders to carry the American and presidential flags.
But eyewitnesses say the new vehicle is actually much larger, and rides on large wheels similar to those found on commercial grade GMC TopKick trucks. The vehicle was being escorted by two of those big boys at the time it was spotted, leading to speculation that the car is in fact one of them in disguise.
Photos show doors that appear to be nearly 8 inches deep, with thick, fixed windows. Only the driver's window has a small slot that can slide open, which we assume is for paying tolls.
With so much armor on board, it would be no surprise if GM needed to resort to using the bones of a truck to support the added weight.
A source at one of the world's premier security vehicle manufacturers says that armored cars of this magnitude are capable of withstanding not only armor-piercing bullets, but also attacks from IEDs.
A number of electronic countermeasures are known to exist that can do things like jam enemy communications and prevent them from detonating roadside bombs remotely, but many others remain top secret and are available only to customers at the highest levels of government.
Nevertheless, a vehicle that needs to withstand a direct hit from an asteroid is likely to get the kind of gas mileage that would make Toyota Prius owners weep, so there are no expectations of it being anything less than a certified gas guzzler.