The first in a series of notes on the armoring services to armor vehicles.
Is there really such a thing as a bulletproof car?
In response to the perceived threats from various criminal or political origins, the need for armor in vehicles has been steadily on the rise and the way upfitters have responded to these requirements has become a much more sophisticated process. The loosely used term of bulletproof cars or automobiles is no longer used by the industry since bulletproof is in itself a misnomer - there is no such thing in general terms. The more accurately used armored vehicle or armored car generally refers to a vehicle, either commercial or passenger, which has been upfitted with a bullet-resistant or fragment-resistant material.
Standards for Armor Materials
Responsible upfitters will provide materials that have been properly certified by such recognized agencies as Underwriters Laboratories, National Institute of Justice, SECOFI (Mexico), or other international standards testing agencies. Each of these agencies usually will be recognized and their standards adhered to. Most reputable armoring services providers will also have general liability insurance which provides products hazard insurance in the event of failure of the armor systems. It must be pointed out that to meet the underwriting requirements of most insurance companies these materials must be certified and installed under very strict quality assurance guidelines.
Who drives armored vehicles?
Armored vehicles can be utilized by heads of state, government officials, private and corporate individuals, and their selection is usually confined to armored passenger sedans, sport utilities, limousines or other models of their choice. Although well built armored vehicles cannot be absolutely bulletproof, as the popular culture thinks of bulletproof, they are most certainly extremely bullet resistant.
Specialty and commercial vehicle applications will include armored money transports, cash in transit, valuables transport or other similar uses, usually installed on van or truck type chassis. The term armored cars has usually been used for the larger type money transport vehicles with large available payloads, such as Brinks, or Wells Fargo operators.
Different levels of armor are required to meet the various threats and can also vary with the region in which the armor is used. We will cover this in the next series.