My father worked in Ford Motor Company's Design Center. When I was a child he told me about a car that was customized for a U.S. President. It had been a long time since I had heard the story so I asked him to fill me in on the details again. This is what he wrote me:
The presidential limo was built for Lyndon Johnson after Kennedy was assassinated. A guy at Ford had worked on it at a shop somewhere in Detriot area. According to him, all the air space between the inner and outer sheet metal was filed with marbles to keep bullets from going through. A ½ inch thick metal plate was ordered to cover the entire underside of the vehicle. When the plate was delivered it was ¾ of an inch thick so that’s what they used. The bullet proof glass was was 6 inches thick. When Lyndon got in the back seat he felt so claustrophobic that they had to rework the rear windows so they could go up and down. The windshield was so thick and caused so much distortion that the drivers had to take Dramamine to keep from getting sick.
It’s hard to imagine a car being reworked enough to accommodate 6 inch think glass but, according to an Englishman named Malcolm Dooley, that’s how it was done.
While driving from Washington to Detroit, two secret service agents had to stop on the expressway and have the limousine weighed at a weigh station. The people running the truck scale couldn’t believe a car could weigh that much. (I don’t know what the weight was).
I remember my father telling me that the gas tank had a sponge and extraction pump so that the fuel wouldn't leak out if the tank was ruptured. My father says he doesn't really remember that part but thinks it sounds so interesting that I should pass it along as fact.
Security technology has come a long way, but you have to give props to that generation. When they needed something or needed to get something done they just rolled up their sleeves and did it, or build it, with their bare hands.
6 inch glass and marbles. Badass.