I, for one, have never been shot at. I plan on saying that when I’m a wrinkled-up old fart on my death bed too, feebly pleading for the keys to the bright orange sports car outside so I can take it for one last spin. Unfortunately, not everyone can say the same, and in a country with such a laissez-faire attitude toward firearms, the amount of people who know someone who’s been shot continues to climb, which got me thinking.
Armored vehicles are no longer reserved for diplomats and drug lords, and there now are numerous options out there when it’s time for the world’s aristocracy to go car shopping. For the rest of us, it’s a bit of a wild thought, but if you (or your head) are worth millions of dollars, staying protected takes on a whole new meaning if money is no issue.
So I came up with a list of five of the best armored cars you can legally buy today, just in case you feel your daily commute may be getting a little heated. While there are dozens of other options out there, these five models give a good overview of what’s available on the market today, which continues to transform with each year.
Naturally, not every one of these is going to be a practical, around-town daily driver, with many of them being reserved for those, “Oh shit, we gotta go!” situations you see in the movies. So whip up a fresh cup of Earl Grey, sit back, relax, and soak in the comfort of knowing that you’re going to be OK, especially if you’re seated inside any of these five vehicles.
1. Mercedes-Benz S-Guard
It may look identical to the average series-production S-Class, but beneath its shell rests a network of highly durable steel and state-of-the-art ceramic composite materials reinforcing the passenger compartment. Special shatterproof windows are perforation resistant and overlapping structures ensure all-round protection from ballistics, and the S-Guard’s axles, brakes, and suspension are beefed up to handle the extra weight.
Run-flat tires allow the vehicle to continue driving over a limited distance, and an emergency fresh air system has been designed to pressurize the passenger compartment so that smoke and tear gas can’t penetrate it. Meanwhile, a fire suppression system can be triggered automatically by heat sensors if high temperatures develop.
Pros: Sexy and sophisticated, nimble, inconspicuous, extremely comfortable, easy to drive, not bad on gas.
Cons: Can’t go off-road, can be easily stopped by road blocks, limited protection against RPGs and mortars.
2. Paramount Group’s Marauder
Despite its massive proportions, the Marauder is surprisingly flexible, and can be configured a multitude of different ways to match the toughest situations. It accommodates a crew of two up front and eight fully equipped bodyguards in the rear, and can be had in either standard or stretched versions, with numerous drivetrain and armor options spread throughout.
The Marauder has been independently proven to provide hull protection against blasts of up to 18 pounds of TNT, as well as a 31-pound dynamite blast at the wheels. Inside, unique “anti-blast seats” protect against injury from extreme force during a side blast or a mine exploding beneath it, and both the cabin and crew compartments come fitted with a double-skinned hull to protect against kinetic attacks. Additional armor can be added in different areas in order to protect against specific threats.
Pros: Virtually unstoppable, excellent ground clearance, highly customizable, impressive blast tolerances.
Cons: Extremely noticeable, slow, terrible turning radius, impractical for daily living.
3. Range Rover Sentinel
A while back, Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division created the Range Rover Sentinel, an armored vehicle that’s based on the standard wheelbase Range Rover Autobiography, but provides the highest levels of protection an SUV can offer. Engineered to withstand the worst, this SUV meets VR8 standards against ballistic threats, so it can withstand a variety of armor piercing incendiary bullets and blasts from DM51 grenades.
The Sentinel sports a six–piece armored passenger cell that’s made out of super-high-strength steel, multi-laminated armored privacy glass, a tamper-proof exhaust, self-sealing fuel tank, auxiliary back up battery, and run flat inserts on all four tires. Standard Autobiography grade luxury remains intact, as well as Land Rover’s brilliant off-road settings and camera system, which makes it the ultimate luxurious all-terrain fortress.
Pros: Attractive, luxurious, off-road-ready, inconspicuous.
Cons: A bit long, guzzles gas, can only withstand two grenade blasts, rear cargo space is not heavily plated.
4. Dartz Black Shark
The 1,500-horsepower Dartz “Black Shark” can be outfitted with a whale foreskin-wrapped interior.
While you think about that, it was also inspired by a Russian Black Shark military chopper. Daily driving features include things like electrochromatic privacy windows and disappearing coach door-handles that come equipped with anti-paparazzi shock-devices.
When things get rough, the Black Shark’s Kevlar-Titanium body prevents the use of magnetic mines, a rotating bulletproof grill flips out, and armor that can handle grade B7 ballistics step to the forefront. As for stopping power, we’re confident that those sewer lid-sized disc brakes do the job just fine.
Pros: Plenty of power, completely customizable, unique, fantastic blast tolerances, magnetic mine-proof undercarriage.
Cons: Extremely expensive, difficult to obtain, impossible to park, questionable reliability.
5. Terradyne Ghurka
Terradyne Inc.’s Gurkha sports a 6.7-liter V8 turbo-diesel engine that generates 660 pound-feet of torque and features a flat tire speed that’s been rated to 70 miles per hour. With its integrated winch, protective window mesh, and cleverly configurable interior, the Ghurka offers an endless array of protective options to buyers.
It also features a thermal imaging camera, a fire suppression system for the engine, interior, and wheels, and comes complete with more off-road prowess than any other vehicle on today’s list due to its balanced size. Canadian made, and basic enough to make repairs speedy, the Ghurka is an extremely balanced option if roughing it is in order.
Pros: Surprisingly swift, standard thermal imaging camera, equipped with a powerful winch from the factory.
Cons: Poor visibility, questionable top speed and handling capabilities, not comfortable, easy to spot in a crowd.