Even the Pope has a bullet-proof car. Is this really something new?
Yes. In the past, aftermarket companies got $30,000 to $300,000 above sticker price to armor limousines and cars, ranging from Ford’s Crown Victoria to GM’s Hummer. But this is different. The Town Car BPS (Ballistic Protection Series) is designed to protect its passengers. And Ford’s building this one in-house. It’s built to stand up against the threat of high-powered rifles or powerful handguns. Ford hopes it’ll even provide bomb-blast protection beneath the floor. (Wouldn’t want to be the poor sucker who tests that out.)
Bomb-blast protection? Who needs all that?
You do, apparently. Ford and other OEMs in the armored car market say their potential clients include just about everyone – from politicians and corporate executives to leasing companies to everday Joe Schmoes.
So I can buy one?
Sure, as long as you have $140,000.
And for that price Ford guarantees it’s bullet-proof, right?
Well … not quite. Ford uses five layers of glass and polycarbonate glued together with polyurethane – a thick layer to protect from above and Kevlar-like protection from below. But most armored car makers prefer to say “bullet-resistant.” This means if enough bullets repeatedly hit the car, one just may sneak through. But the idea behind it is really for escape.
OK, so it’ll protect me from crazy fans and armed carjackers. But won’t I look silly in a Town Car tank?
You’ll be fine. Only your chauffeur will know for sure. Your armored Town Car will look just like every other Town Car on the road. It’s designed for discretion, my friend.
What do I get for my money?
You get a heavier limousine chassis designed to hold all that extra weight from the bullet-resistant armor. While your not-so-lucky neighbor’s Town Car weighs about 4,300 pounds, yours will top out at about 6,200 pounds. Should your tires go flat, you can still drive for 30 more miles at 30 mph to escape danger. Ford even modified the fuel tank to reduce leakage after gunfire.
What if I’m too cool for a Town Car? Are there other armored cars out there for me to choose from?
Of course. Mercedes-Benz and BMW rule the overseas market for armored cars. BMW’s 760Li High Security is available hermetically sealed (airtight) to protect passengers in the event of a gas attack. It even has its own oxygen supply. Unfortunately for you, BMW isn’t selling it in the states, claiming too many federal regs to deal with. But Mercedes-Benz sells an S500 sedan for about $156,000, and GM is planning to introduce its armored Cadillac by year’s end.
Writer Cheryl McMullen is managing editor of BodyShop Business.