Wednesday, 25 May, 2022
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Mercedes for Modi and ‘The Beast’ for Biden: World leaders love state cars. It’s their ‘art’

Serving with both looks and protection, state vehicles are so much more than just protective machines. They are symbolic of their countries' power.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have a ‘God-like’ status among his followers in India but he is not invincible and there is no dearth of people who wish him harm. A world leader like him could use all the protection he could get. This is why the latest addition to our Prime Minister’s security convoy is the Mercedes Maybach S650 Pullman Guard.

An upgrade from the Range Rover Vogue and Toyota Land Cruiser he previously used, this Rs 12-crore model of Maybach provides its occupants with the highest level of protection ever seen in a production car. It boasts imperviousness to bullets, even those from an AK-47 rifle. All this owing to the upgraded windows and the body shell of the Mercedes Maybach S-650 Guard. Its polycarbonate windows and heavily-armoured underbody are even capable of protecting the car’s occupants from TNT blasts. Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, also owns a similar model of Maybach.

A screengrab of a video showing Narendra Modi arriving to Hyderabad House in his new Mercedes Maybach S650 Pullman Guard to meet Russia President Vladimir Putin. | Photo Credit: YouTube
A screengrab of a video showing Narendra Modi’s Mercedes Maybach S650 Pullman Guard. | Photo Credit: YouTube

Also Read: PM Modi can’t claim to be ‘fakir’ after Rs 12 cr car in his cavalcade: Sanjay Raut


Russian and US state cars

Leaders of other countries, too, have their own preferred protection vehicles with their own special features — each designed to protect their occupants from all conceivable kinds of assault. Russian President Vladimir Putin only travels in a custom-built luxury limousine called the Aurus Senat, during his foreign visits. A Russian-made bullet-proof and bomb-proof vehicle, the Senat is capable of withstanding sniper attacks and even chemical gas attacks. Equipped with an advanced communication system, as well as CCTV cameras, the Senat might just as well be a command centre on wheels.

Vladimir Putin's Aurus Senat. | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Vladimir Putin’s Aurus Senat. | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Cadillac One, or ‘The Beast’, as it is called, cannot be left out of the discussion. With an eight-inch-thick exterior wall and armour made up of aluminium, ceramic, and steel, the Cadillac One is indeed a force to be reckoned with. Among its incredible defensive features are run-flat tires, night vision devices, smoke screens, and oil slicks. Its doors are capable of being electrified in order to prevent unwanted entry. All of these defensive features truly make this vehicle a ‘beast’. In addition to all this, Cadillac One also has stores of the president’s blood type on the ready for medical emergencies.

A screengrab of Joe Biden's inaugural parade video. | Photo Credit: YouTube/Biden Inaugural Committee
A screengrab of Joe Biden’s inaugural parade video. | Photo Credit: YouTube/Biden Inaugural Committee

Also Read: Toyota or pakora? Modi govt must choose


Chinese leaders and Queen of England

The leaders of China, too, have their own version of a state limousine. They, along with their president Xi Jinping, use the Hongqi, a luxury car developed in China.  Even when visiting other countries, Chinese leaders traverse the foreign land on their specially flown in Hongqis. They do this in order to shun foreign manufactured vehicles and promote their own, which they claim is comparable to the Cadillac One of America. The name ‘Hongqi,’ literally meaning ‘red flag’, is symbolic of China’s Communist ideology. It is a bullet-proof and bomb-proof car with heavy armour and possesses a self-sealing fuel tank that remains safe even under heavy firing. A truly formidable counterpart to the world’s other state limousines, the Hongqi is indeed an ode to Chinese manufacturing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on a Hongqi limousine at a parade in Tienanmen Square in Beijing. | Photo Credit: China Ministry of National Defense
Chinese President Xi Jinping on a Hongqi limousine at a parade in Tienanmen Square in Beijing. | Photo Credit: China Ministry of National Defense

Similarly, royals around the world also use state vehicles. The queen of England owns two Bentley limousines as her state car. They were manufactured on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002. These Bentley limousines, like state cars from other countries, are bullet and blast resistant. Their bodies and glass are armoured and the cabins can be sealed air-tight in case of a gas attack. The tires are also kevlar reinforced.

The Queen's State Limousine displayed at Windsor Castle. | Photo Credit: Twitter/@BentleyComms
The Queen’s State Limousine displayed at Windsor Castle. | Photo Credit: Twitter/@BentleyComms

In addition to being protective machines, the British state’s Bentley limousines are smart too to look at — as befits royal vehicles. Painted claret and black, they feature a mount on their roof to display an illuminated coat of arms or the Royal pennant. When carrying the queen, the ‘B’ bonnet ornament is replaced by a single standing lion or the Queen’s own personal mascot, Saint George, slaying the dragon.

Serving with both looks and protection, state vehicles are so much more than just protective machines. They are symbolic of their countries’ power and mechanical prowess. They are works of art, each with a personalised touch. They are armours that protect in style.

Amrita Ray is an MBBS student. She is interested in politics, culture and the environment. She can be found on Instagram at: amrita._.ray. Views are personal.

(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)

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