Most cars in the showroom today offer a number of innovations and safety features. However, in some cases, certain people need to take their security up a notch. From prohibition-era gangsters to the pope and the president, these are some of the most notable armored cars to ever hit the streets.
As the oldest known armored passenger car still in existence, Al Capone’s 1928 Cadillac is the granddaddy of them all. According to CNN Money, Capone’s Caddy features roughly 3,000 pounds of bulletproof steel armor, as well as inch-thick bulletproof glass windows and a rear window that folds down, supposedly so passengers could shoot guns out the back. But Capone’s Cadillac wasn’t just designed for assault; it was also painted green and black, just like Cadillacs that belonged to the Chicago police department at the time. This Cadillac also had a police siren and flashing red lights behind the front grill, as well as the first known police scanner installed in a private vehicle, which allowed the gangster to monitor police activity.
Reportedly one of three similarly-equipped Cadillac sedans, rumor has it that President Franklin D. Roosevelt used one of Capone’s Cadillacs for transportation after it was seized by the federal government. According to Yahoo, FDR continued to use the car until a 1939 Lincoln V12 armored convertible limousine, known as the Sunshine Special, was delivered for presidential use.
Until 1978, the pope used to be carried in a chair, or sedia gestatoria, when he went out in public, but automakers have been making special limousines for papal transportation since the early 20th century. The first “popemobiles” were used by Pope John Paul II, which initially included modified FSC Star, Ford D-Series and Mercedes-Benz trucks. However, a number of different makes and models have been used in different countries.
Today, Pope Benedict XVI is most frequently seen in a modified Mercedes M-Class SUV, which features a special glass-enclosed room built into the back of the vehicle. Pope Benedict sits in a special chair, where he’s raised into the glass box by a hydraulic lift. Security features on the modified M-Class include bulletproof glass in the windows and roof, as well as armor on the side panels and underbody.
For security reasons, the Secret Service put the brakes on revealing too many details about Cadillac One, according to car-culture enthusiast blog Jalopnik. However, General Motors has released a few details on the presidential limousine. Cadillac One sits higher off the ground than previous presidential limos for improved visibility, and features an executive compartment with ample seating and mobile office features. On the outside, Cadillac One is fitted with LED spotlights which illuminate its fender-mounted flags at night.
Although it looks similar to a Cadillac DTS sedan, Cadillac One is reportedly built on a four-wheel drive GMC Topkick truck platform. There’s been widespread speculation on Cadillac One’s security features, which are said to include 5-inch-thick bulletproof glass, military-grade ceramic armor and cell phone jammers. In reality, however, Cadillac One’s special features are only known by the Secret Service and the small team who designed it.