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If a special vehicles automaker wanted to build a bespoke automobile specifically for China’s wealthiest, it would adorn the automobile with every imaginable luxury appointment and would dedicate its masterpiece after the Year of the Dragon.
In Chinese culture, the dragon represents power, prosperity, and good fortune. Earlier this year, Rolls Royce took this opportunity to offer the elite ‘Year of the Dragon’ Phantom for $1.2 million. Aston Martin also celebrated Chinese New Year with special “Dragon88″ offerings for its Vantage S, Virage, and DBS models, exclusively for the Chinese Market.
Dartz decided to follow suit by introducing a Dragon of its own. The Latvian premium armored vehicle company announced 12 Dartz Prombron Black Dragon edition SUVs for a cosmic sum of $7 million dollars each. What should one expect to receive from a vehicle that’s priced to compete with a 4 bedroom luxury apartment in New York City?
The Dartz Prombron Black Dragon not only receives all the standard armor specifications, but also features a golden Dartz logo encrusted with diamonds and rubies as well as extravagant wheels with inlaid gold machine-gun bullets and dragon designs. For its interior, passengers will enjoy a 42-inch TV, an electrochromic roof, and piano-black flooring. Finally, the special Prombron offers a wheelbase stretched by approximately another two feet. Surprisingly, the $7 million price tag does not entail a dragon penis upholstery package, mythical creatures are harder to find than the whale penis used in previous Prombrons.
Chassis and powertrain comes from GM, with a choice of either a diesel or gasoline V8.
GALLERY: Dartz Prombon Black Dragon
Check out the video of the ridiculous rolling luxury bank vault below:
An obscure Canadian law makes it illegal for private citizens to own bulletproof cars, but Dave Pankew of Autoblog Canada ended up spotting one just north of Toronto, with the vehicle in question being a rare BMW 760Li High Security.
Allegedly, this car has the top-of-the-line F03 package, and has all kinds of spy-novel-esque gadgets including bulletproof glass, run-flat tires, a bomb-proof undercarriage and a toxic gas sensor that shuts off outside ventilation should it detect any threats.
While technically illegal, the 760Li was wearing German license plates, meaning it’s not registered in Canada. If the owner (or driver, in this case) held a drivers license in Germany, then the car would likely be legal, as it’s merely being driven on Canadian roads by a foreign national, rather than legally imported and registered.
Alternately, it could be owned by BMW Canada (and with the Munich license plates, that’s a real possibility) and the whole thing is just a lot of fuss over nothing. Either way, it’s a cool car, and if they had this back in 1996, Tupac Shakur might have survived his untimely death.
[Source: Autoblog Canada]
North Korea’s chronic food shortages are reported to be reaching levels similar to the 1994 famine that struck the isolated Asian nation, and Kim Jong-Il, the world’s best dressed hereditary communist dictator, couldn’t care less.
According to a report by North Korean affairs blog One Free Korea, the North Korean dictator was spotted in China being chauffeured in a Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman Guard, an armored, extended-wheelbase S600 that costs $200,000 more than the Maybach limousines reportedly favored by Jong-Il.
Witnesses said that the two S600s were fitted with Beijing license plates, a common practice for vehicles exported from China to North Korea by air freight. Trade documents obtained by One Free Korea show that $3.1 million worth of unspecified European cars were exported from China to North Korea in 2010.
The blog also notes that one ton of corn costs $250 on the open market, meaning that the North Korean government could have purchased 13,000 tons of corn for its starving populace.
[Source: One Free Korea]
We often take our own personal safety for granted, but in Mexico, the situation is quite different to say the least. While full-size SUVs are generally the vehicle of choice when armoring comes in to play, they’re not always the most discrete, and Volkswagen is cognizant of this.
For about $70,000, Volkswagen will sell you a previous generation Jetta (known as the Bora) with factory installed armoring that can stop small caliber rounds from entering the car. Although it uses the same 2.0T engine and DSG gearbox, the car is much more discrete than the GLI performance model, and with the extra weight, a good deal slower as well. Then again, staying alive, rather than having fun behind the wheel, is the point of this car, and the 2.0T motor is there out of necessity.
When some other manufacturers announce armored variants of their vehicles, we sometimes wonder why. When Maybach announces an armored variant of their 62 luxury sedan, we wonder what took them so long. The engineers over at Sindelfingen, Germany, equipped Maybach’s 62 with integrated safety systems to suit all the very important people that need protection while traveling in the ultimate luxury sedan.
Maybach boasts that their armored version of the 62, dubbed 62 Guard, only weighs 895-lbs more than the non-armored version. Its reinforcement comes from a specially-made armor featuring steel and high-tech Kevlar that’s integrated into the body shell. Maybach also claims that the base of the Maybach Guard was already designed for the additional weight, so no additional changes were made to the drivetrain, suspension or brakes.
Most importantly though is the fact that Maybach is the only armored car in the world that can reach a top speed of 155-mph. The Maybach 62 Guard can also receive almost all the same options of individualization that a standard Maybach can receive. No pricing was announced.
Official press release available after the break.
GALLERY: 2011 Maybach 62 Models
Some driving schools teach you the rules of the road. Others show you how to get the most out of your car while driving at the limit on a closed circuit. A rarefied few, like BMW‘s facility in the former East Germany, can show you how to get away with life and limb intact should you ever come under an armed assault.
With BMW’s lineup of factory armored cars, sold under the BMW Security lineup, are frequently sold to customers who live in locales where the rule of law isn’t always stringently enforced. The armor plating helps these types of BMW owners defend themselves against bullets or bombs, but the other half of the equation is driving training. The BMW facility, stationed at a former Soviet airbase, is a prime location to teach evasive driving maneuvers, and as the video below explains, it’s pretty badass.
Video after the jump
Land Rover has teamed up with the specialists at Centigon to release an armored variant of the Discovery 4 luxury SUV. The armored Discovery 4 can take on machine gun fire, 33 pounds of TNT and even a pair of DM51 grenades. The additional security has been certified by QinetiQ.
Hardly a light vehicle in stock form, the added protective weight pushes the SUV to over 7,800 lbs. To help cope with the weight, Land Rover has upped the performance of the truck’s 5.0L LR-V8 while also adding more luxury amenities in the interior.
Additional upgrades include an independent air suspension, upgraded air springs, retuned dampers, larger sway bars and Alcon brakes in the front and the rear.
No pricing was announced, but the armored Discovery 4 does come with Land Rover’s standard full three-year, 80,000 km (approximately 50,000 miles) warranty.
GALLERY: Land Rover Discovery 4 Armored
Official release after the jump:
Armored cars are an expensive proposition, nearly always costing well above $100,000, and for this reason, they’re rarely anything but luxury sedans or SUVs.
The problem with this phenomenon is that the places where armored cars are really needed, discretion is often better than driving an ostentatious bling-mobile. Texas Armoring, one of the leading armored car manufacturers, has noticed a spike in demand for “ordinary” bulletproof cars, mostly from Mexico, where a war between government officials and drug traffickers have caused unprecedented violence.
The vehicles featured in the video include late model SUVs like the Chevrolet Trailblazer and Ford Excursion, while one rep mentions that cars like the Toyota Camry and Nissan Maxima have also been retrofitted.
Hit the jump to see the video on Texas Armoring
Chances are if you’re reading this, you live in a locale that is devoid of frequent regime changes, random acts of violence or shaky private property rights. In the other 98% of the world, such interruptions of daily life do exist, and when there’s a great gulf between the rich and the poor, things tend to get a little dangerous.
Last year, I was able to visit one of those countries, and got to check out my hosts fleet of armored cars. While these vehicles were outfitted by some of the best retrofitters in the business, there are a few inevitable compromises. One of the SUVs, powered by a six-cylinder engine, had an electrical system that couldn’t cope with the added weight of the armoring. Any time the windows needed to be opened, they would roll down with a power switch and manually brought up by hand – an awkward and time consuming act that was annoying and could put one’s life at risk. Another SUV was armored to Fort Knox levels, but the contractor forgot about the braking system. The truck rear-ended someone so badly that the other car was planted firmly beneath the undercarriage of the SUV, all because these sorts of things aren’t taken into account by aftermarket firms.
Enter BMW Security Vehicles. Available as a factory-integrated package on the 5-Series, X5 and 7-Series, the BMW Security cars are engineered and built to be bulletproof from the start, which eliminates those pesky quirks like non-functioning windows and brakes. BMW has released a video demonstrating how the vehicles are designed and tested highlighting their “from the ground up” approach (and they even mention upgraded window regulators, so it must be a common complaint), showing the vehicles doing fancy pirouettes on a test track and getting blasted with high-velocity rifle rounds.
A quick look at the website shows the usual armor plating, sirens and other defensive gear. What is missing from the catalog are some of the more extreme features that aftermarket companies do offer; smokescreens, weapon ports, remote starters with bomb detection. Surely there’s some liability issues involved, but the extra engineering that goes into the BMW Security products is worth far more than some James Bond-like gimmicks.