The curious but heavily fortified world of armored cars

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Armored Jaguar

Armored cars are, believe it or not, made by most major car makers and sold all over the world. Photo Credit: mb-bailey/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

Every now and again, a feature will crop up in the automotive press about a new model of armored car that’s going on sale or heading to an auto show. Armored cars are fairly interesting, as is what information is available on sales outside of typical customers like governments.

Most major carmakers do armored cars on the side

Every so often, there will be a news item in the automotive press about a variant of a typical passenger car by a major automaker that’s modified as an armored car. For instance, AutoGuide recently posted that Hyundai is producing an armored limousine based on the Hyundai Equus, the luxury yacht that no one buys made by Hyundai. The Hyundai armored limo is heading for the Moscow International Automobile Salon, also called the Moscow motor show.

BMW, according to Motor Authority, recently unveiled police variants of the X5 crossover and the 3 series wagon and the 7 Series High Security, an armored variant of BMW’s flagship sedan.

Big business

Name the brand, and they sell armored cars. According to a 2003 article in the Chicago Tribune, that includes brands like Volkswagen, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Ford and General Motors. In fact, Ford and GM both authorized direct sales through dealerships in that year. Though one might not expect to see them at Los Angeles, Kansas City or Brooklyn dealers lots, one can order them from there.

That said, the car loan terms are going to be pretty hefty as the cost is two to three times that of a normal car. In 2003, an armored Lincoln Town Car started at $140,000, and a then-forthcoming armored Cadillac DeVille was slated to start “towards $100,000.”

Not all processes for making them are the same, but it usually involves filling body panels with sheet metal or Kevlar and other composites and installing windows that are several inches thick.

There are some cheaper ways to do it. DuPont, according to a recent Reuters article reprinted on the Chicago Tribune website, sells a kit called Armura, which includes Kevlar paneling and its proprietary bulletproof glass, SentryGlas, which has to be installed by a DuPont-approved mechanic. There are also aftermarket vendors, which will armor a typical passenger car or SUV.

Where they’re selling

Governments are the more typical customers, as heads of state need protection and so forth. The Chicago Tribune reported in 2003 that only about 2 percent of armored car sales were in the U.S. Western and eastern Europe accounted for 17 and 13 percent of the market, respectively, along with 7 percent in the Middle East, 2 percent in Asia and 3 percent in Afria. Latin America accounted for about half.

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That trend hasn’t reversed. DuPont’s Armura kit is only sold in Brazil, which according to a 2009 New York Times article is a hotbed of armored car sales unto itself, given that country’s high crime rate and the propensity of criminals to prey on motorists stuck in traffic.

Mexico, according to Reuters, is also a hotbed of armored car sales due to the ongoing conflict between the government and drug cartels




Chicago Tribune


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