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Motorcade transporting U.S. President George W. Bush in Charlotte, North Carolina President George W. Bush's motorcade.jpg
Motorcade transporting U.S. President George W. Bush in Charlotte, North Carolina

A motorcade, or autocade, is a procession of vehicles.



The term motorcade was coined by Lyle Abbot (in 1912 or 1913 when he was automobile editor of the Arizona Republican), and is formed after cavalcade on the false notion that "-cade" was a suffix meaning "procession". In fact, there is no such suffix in either French or Latin, although -cade has now since become a productive suffix in English, leading to the alternative names carcade, autocade, and even Hoovercade (after J. Edgar Hoover). Eric Partridge called the name a "monstrosity", and Lancelot Hogben considered the word to be a "counterfeit coinage". The original suffix in cavalcade is actually "-ade". [1] [2] [3]

Uses of motorcades


A funeral cortege is a procession of mourners, most often in a motorcade of vehicles following a hearse. [4]

Protests and demonstrations

Motorcades can be used as protests and demonstrations. [5] A large, organised, group of vehicles will travel a busy route at very slow speed in order to deliberately cause traffic disruption. This is a tactic most often associated with protest groups that have access to many large vehicles, such as truckers and farmers. An example is the 2005 UK protests against fuel prices. [6] As part of the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine in November 2013—February 2014, the sub-movement that made use of car processions as the means of protest was called the Automaidan.


Motorcades can be used to transport a very important person, usually a political figure. Such a procession consists of several vehicles, usually accompanied by law enforcement support and additional protection to ensure the safety of the people in the motorcade. Motorcades for heads of government and heads of state can consist of dozens of vehicles, those being armoured cars, SUVs, and police motorcycles and cars leading the way and following.

Traffic diversions

Depending on the size of the motorcade and who it is carrying, routes may be completely blockaded from the general public. For security, this often occurs for motorcades for heads of state or government.

President of the United States

The motorcade for the President of the United States comprises forty to fifty vehicles; in addition to the president, the motorcade may carry his or her spouse, members of the press, security, White House officials, and VIP guests. The major members travel in armored vehicles, typically specially configured limousines. The motorcade contains several armored vehicles, a USSS Electronic Countermeasures Suburban, a counter-assault team, and Secret Service agents. When called for, a hazardous materials team precedes the motorcade on alert for potential hazards.

A police presence precedes the beginning of the presidential motorcade. These cars and motorcycles usually drive ahead to clear the way and block traffic. [7]

The motorcade for the president is made up of two parts, the first being the "secure package". [8] In the event of an emergency, the secure package separates from the rest of the group. [8] It includes two limousines heavily guarded by local law enforcement and Secret Service, with all cars driven by professional drivers. [8]

The second part is made up of vans that transport White House staff members and selected members of the press. In the rear is the WHCA Roadrunner communications van – which provides the primary communications path via satellite, allowing bi-directional voice, data and streaming video – an ambulance, and additional police vehicles. [8]

Motorcade routes are selected by Secret Service agents in cooperation with local police forces. Escape routes are also established in the event of an emergency. [8]

President of South Korea

The motorcade for the President of South Korea comprises twenty to thirty vehicles; in addition to the president, the motorcade may carry his or her spouse, members of the press, security, Blue House officials, VIP guests, family, friends and cabinet members. High ranking cabinet members travel in armored vehicles, typically specially configured limousines or armored Cadillac Escalade’s. The motorcade contains several armored vehicles of different car brands, there is a counter-assault team, Presidential Security Service agent’s, medical teams, police escorts from the Korean National Police Agency and other unknown unmarked vehicles.

The police escort usually precedes the Presidential motorcade to clear the way, block traffic and shut down the streets for the motorcade.

The motorcade is divided into two different parts, the first half being the part of the motorcade carrying the president and his or her spouse the second half carrying Blue House staff, more security and the press.

Many people most notably saw the Korean presidential motorcade during the first Inter-Korean summit at the DMZ on the Korean border, where the leaders of the two Koreas met for the first time. [9]

The routes for the motorcade are selected by the Presidential Security Service agents with cooperation with local police forces. There is always an emergency route set incase of any emergency’s before the President goes anywhere.

See also

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An official state car is a vehicle used by a government to transport its head of state or head of government in an official capacity, which may also be used occasionally to transport other members of the government or visiting dignitaries from other countries. A few countries bring their own official state car for state visits to other countries, for instance, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and South Korea. It also may serve as an automotive symbol of the head of state and their country. Part of the criteria for an official state car is to have adequate security, capability and stateliness for its duty. A limousine, executive car or sport utility vehicle is usually selected.

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Armored car (valuables) protected van or truck used to transport valuables

An armored vehicle is an armored van or truck, used in transporting valuables, such as large quantities of money. The armored car is typically a multifunctional vehicle designed to protect and ensure the wellbeing of the transported individuals and/or contents. Often, armored cars are bulletproof and can withstand extreme degrees of heat. These vehicles are mostly utilized by the military, but many companies such as Mercedes, Lexus, Toyota, Cadillac, Audi, and BMW have created armored cars for civilian use, usually to protect valuables and dignitaries. Armored cars have an armored shell and cab, and typically are customized on a basic van or truck chassis. These vehicles are designed to resist attempts at robbery and hijacking. Bullet-resistant glass and reinforced shells and cabs are designed to resist bullets from most handguns and rifles.

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<i>Sunshine Special</i> (automobile)

The Sunshine Special was the official state car used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. It is said to have been the "First Presidential car to acquire its own personality". It was a 1939 twelve-cylinder engine, four-door convertible originally built by Lincoln and was specifically modified for the President by a speciality coach builder, Brunn & Company, Inc., in Buffalo, New York, at a cost of $4,950. Initially called "Old 99," in reference to a number on its first license plate, it was later nicknamed the "Sunshine Special" as a reference to its retractable roof, and was famously enjoyed by the president, who had its roof brought down during public gatherings. At other times, the car was used as traditional presidential transportation. This was in spite of a previous assassination attempt on Roosevelt as he was riding in a Buick convertible, prior to the creation of the Sunshine Special.

WHCA Roadrunner

The White House Communications Agency Roadrunner vehicle is an element of every American presidential motorcade. It is also known as the MC2V. The vehicle serves as the communications hub for the motorcade by encrypting duplex radio and streaming video which in turn is beamed up to a military satellite which in turn beams that data back down to a ground entry point and through to the WHCA switchboard.

Transportation of the president of the United States

The United States government has maintained a variety of vehicles for the President. Because of his role as Commander-in-Chief he exclusively uses military transports for international travel, however the civilian Secret Service operates the President's motorcade.

Society of Blue Buckets

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ZiL lane Road lanes for senior officials

ZiL lanes are lanes on some principal roads in Moscow dedicated to vehicles carrying senior government officials. Known officially in Russian as rezervniye polosy notably but not exclusively used by ZiL and Chaika brand limousines transporting high ranking government and military functionaries of the Soviet Union. ZiL lanes emerged in the 1960s during the rule of Leonid Brezhnev, replacing the previous system of having other vehicles flagged down to make way for those of top officials. A two way lane was inserted into the middle of some of Moscow's main highways in place of the central reservations, and were off-limits to all traffic but authorised civilian and emergency service vehicles. ZiL lanes and restricted routes caused considerable disruption to Moscow's traffic because of the absolute priority given to their users. The Guardian's Martin Kettle described the frustration they caused to ordinary motorists in the mid-1980s:

You can spend up to 20 minutes sitting in a lengthening queue on the bridge that crosses the main access road to the Kremlin. The lights are controlled by the Kremlin's own traffic control centre, and other cars simply have to wait. About a kilometre farther down the same road is the Oktyabrskaya Hotel, reserved for guests of the Central Committee. They, too, have a traffic priority, and when the cavalcades are leaving the hotel while the ZiLs are heading into the Kremlin, the whole of central Moscow can grind to a halt.

Presidential state car (Russia)

The Russian presidential state car is the official state car of the President of Russia.

The President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, uses a highly modified Hyundai Nexo SUV and a Mercedes-Maybach W222 S600 Guard as his official state cars.

The South Korean Presidential Helicopter is the Republic of Korea Air Force helicopter used to transport the President of South Korea. The current aircraft tail number is 05050.


  1. Valerie Adams (1973). Introduction to Modern English Word-formation. Longman. pp. 188–189.
  2. John Ayto (2006). "motorcade". Movers and Shakers: A Chronology of Words that Shaped Our Age. Movers and Shakers. Oxford University Press US. p. 45. ISBN   9780198614524.
  3. Henry Louis Mencken; Raven Ioor McDavid & David A. Maurer (1963). American Language: An Inquiry Into the Development of English in the United States. Knopf. p. 222.
  4. Gove, Philip B (1984). Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms. Merriam-Webster. p. 640.
  5. Doug Bound (1994). "Nonviolent Direct Action and the Diffusion of Power". In Paul Ernest Wehr; Paul Wehr; Heidi Burgess; Guy M. Burgess (eds.). Justice Without Violence. Lynne Rienner Publishers. ISBN   1-55587-465-7.
  6. Morris, Steven (2005-09-17). "Fuel protesters defy police as convoy crawl jams motorway". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  7. Beam, Christopher (November 29, 2006). "What's in a presidential motorcade?". Retrieved 2008-05-20.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Selingo, Jefferey (September 26, 2003). "Driving; Fed Up With Traffic? Get Behind the Wheel in a Motorcade". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-20.