March 20th, 2013
09:32 AM ET
10 years ago

Presidential limo breaks down ahead of Obama's arrival

Jerusalem (CNN) – An official limousine awaiting President Barack Obama's arrival in Israel malfunctioned Wednesday but the Secret Service now says the reason for the mechanical problem had nothing to do with the type of fuel used, as first reported.

"The appropriate gas was put in the car," Ed Donovan, spokesman for the Secret Service, told CNN.

Citing an official in the region, CNN reported, as did other media outlets, that the vehicle had been filled with gasoline instead of diesel fuel. At the time, the Secret Service did not waive reporters off the idea that the car had the wrong fuel.

Donovan said the vehicle actually doesn't have a diesel engine and runs on unleaded gasoline. The Secret Service is generally tight-lipped about details of the president's limousine, otherwise known as "The Beast."

Because the vehicle was built on a Chevrolet Kodiak chassis, whose engine runs on diesel fuel, it was believed that the limo also ran on diesel.

The Secret Service says the diagnostics are still ongoing.

However, an Israeli official adamantly stands by the story that the limousine was filled with the wrong type of fuel.

The limo failed to start, and required towing in Jerusalem at 10 a.m. local time. Obama, who landed in Tel Aviv around noon, was not in the country at the time the limo was towed. A second presidential limo was brought to transport Obama.

"We experienced mechanical trouble with one of the cars," Donovan told a pool reporter traveling with Obama earlier Wednesday. "We don't know the cause."

"That's why we bring different multiple vehicles," Donovan said.

The tow truck company owner who picked up the limo said the U.S. consulate called him to tow the vehicle in Jerusalem because it wouldn't start.

Multiple official vehicles are typically flown ahead of time to destinations where Obama is visiting. On his trip to the Mideast, Obama will stop in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel, Ramallah in the West Bank, and will visit with Jordan's King Abdullah in that nation.

The presidential limousine is a specially built Cadillac that's estimated to weigh 8 tons. There are multiple, identical copies that are used to transport Obama around Washington and on his trips out of town.

The car reportedly features inches of armor and bulletproof glass, doors and windows that seal shut in the event of a gas attack, and special shocks to absorb blasts.

- CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Israel • President Obama
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. k

    This is hilarious!!! And "definitely" front page news! 🙂

    March 20, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  2. Admiral Ackbar

    Gee Natch please tell us. Like you really have an insight on the cost of presidental travels.

    March 20, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  3. Rod

    Gee... Another great impression left on the world... the prez' limo doesn't run... guess the batteries were dead... so, howz that climate change/enviro schtuff workin out?

    March 20, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  4. Rufus

    Some of the comments here are ignorant...stupid at best. The President and representatives must spend taxpayers dollars to advance America's agenda. More countries are becoming or embracing capitalist ideas. We are not a member of some isolationist apparatus...reasons why we have territory and military bases around the world...not just on American soil. Other countries are spending money on forging mutual ties with other countries. Look at Africa...we are no longer engaged in that country. What happen with that void? Well, another emerging country is engaged... building mutual bonds with Africa, i.e., raw materials! They are building a strong respect to some degree. So many American live within the only believe what the corporate world tell you. Open your eyes...have you ever watched news not originated in America. You would be shocked to hear what some of our strongest allies have to say. Money is not everything, but to some it is God. Some would want the president to travel to other countries by a box. We also are cognizant that some Americans want to see the demise of America by design ...or ignorance.

    March 20, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  5. Kengara

    Its just normal for a motor engine to've a break down,thanks for a backup!

    March 21, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
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