When people think of car safety features, airbags, seatbelts or anti-lock brakes likely come to mind. For the extremely wealthy, government officials, or expatriates living in high-risk areas, something more secure is often needed. To meet the demand, companies have sprung up around the world to reinforce and bulletproof cars and trucks — a practice known as “up-armoring.”
One such company is Houston-based Texcalibur Armor,which provides bulletproof vehicles and luxury armored cars to everyone from diplomats, SWAT teams and government contractors, to business executives, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals.
“The idea behind the process is to take an SUV or another car, strip it apart, and add bullet-resistant steel, composite material and ballistic glass,” said Scott Newman of Texcalibur Armor. “The end game is to put the vehicle back together so it’s discreet and nobody knows it’s armored.”
Newman estimates that the company produces 90 vehicles per year, but notes that vehicles vary substantially by where and how they are intended to be used, with 95 percent of them headed to overseas markets like the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. “When you’re in these countries and there is a disproportionate amount of wealth, you can easily become a target,” Newman said.
The price tag of a fully up-armored vehicle can vary between $45,000 to more than $100,000, not including the price of the original vehicle. The process can add an excess of 1,200 pounds and offers protection from assault rifle rounds, carjackings, fire and in the most extreme cases armor-piercing rounds and roadside bombs.
For those intrigued by up-armored vehicles, some components may seem like they have been pulled straight from a James Bond film. Rightly so because these features are on the cutting-edge of individual security. Texcalibur has provided CNBC.com with details of both standard and nonstandard features that are included in fully up-armored vehicles achieving one of its highestlevels of ballistic protection, a B6. One of the most in-demand vehicles today is the Lexus LX570, according to Texcalibur, which is featured in the pages that follow. Other popular models include Chevrolet Suburbans and Toyota Landcruisers, although in some markets pickup trucks or sedans may be more desirable, since they are less likely to draw the attention of would-be attackers.
So, what goes into a fully up-armored SUV? Click ahead to see details on some of today’s most cutting-edge features.
By Paul Toscano
Illustrations by Paul Alvord
Posted June 11 2012