Oh, to have one’s choice of a ride – of wheels, man, of an automobile to take you around! The vast majority of us are limited in this respect by budgetary considerations, but some are not. Among those are heads of state, and Rzeczpospolita takes a look at their choices of roadster.
This inquiry just doesn’t come out of the blue, though. Last Friday there was apparently some sort of incident involving Polish President Andrzej Duda as he was riding in his official limousine along the national A4 highway. This article only mentions this in passing; you have to go elsewhere to find out any more about it (like here, to the tvn24 site, in Polish), and even then many details are still missing. The important thing, of course, is that President Duda was completely unharmed. Additionally, there seems to have been some damage to the tires, at least, but otherwise the incident is being investigated further, by all sorts of Polish governmental agencies. President Duda was himself asked directly about it yesterday (Monday), but he was willing only to confirm that he was in fine shape.
Well, what sort of car is it that he rides around in? A common thread for presidential cars – as one would expect – is that they are made within the same country in question, so that, for example, David Cameron uses a Bentley Mulsanne, President Mattarella of Italy cruises in a Lancia Thesis, Czech President Zeman disposes of a Škoda Superb and (of course) Angela Merkel* has a Mercedes S Class. Poland is not really known for any make of cars, though, so President Duda is taken around in a BMW 7, the “High Security” version which is (like all the others mentioned) modified to reflect the needs of security (and of communications) for a head of state.
President Obama’s ride is most famous of all. It’s a Cadillac, again highly, highly modified (e.g. to enable communication at any time with the Vice President and the Pentagon; also to withstand chemical attack), known as Cadillac One, or the Beast. This vehicle is transported to any of the various places in the world to which the President may travel, and is so heavily weighed-down by its armor and other equipment (it weighs 10 tons, although with a super-charged engine that can handle all that) that it gets only 100 km per 30 liters of gasoline (that is 7.8 miles/gallon).
The piece finishes up with a listing of other Heads of State and their official cars, which I’ll reproduce (and translate, where appropriate) for you here:
- France: Citroen DS5
- Hungary: Audi A8 Ls
- India (sorry, no Tata): Mercedes-Benz S600
- Japan: Toyota Century
- Malaysia: Maybach 62 (Maybach is owned by Daimler-Benz; it’s their luxury line. Strange, Wikipedia reports that the 62 model was discontinued, so the Malaysian government may have trouble finding spare parts.)
- Russia: Mercedes-Benz S Class (just like Merkel)
- South Korea: Hyundai Equus VL500
- Sweden: Volvo S80; and finally
- Vatican: Kia Santa Fe (!); maybe they particularly like the model-name?
* Yes, it’s true that, properly speaking, Angela Merkel does not belong in this list because she is a Head of Government, not Head of State. Nonetheless, this is the data-point which the (unnamed) Rzeczpospolita author uses. I think we can assume German President Joachim Gauck rides around in his own presidential Mercedes S Class as well.