Armored car (VIP)

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For other uses, see Armored car (disambiguation).
Armored Mercedes-Benz W220 of the type used by the President of Germany
Presidential State Car of the United States, also known as Cadillac One

A civilian armored car is a security vehicle which made by replacing the windows of a standard vehicle (typically a limousine or SUV) with bulletproof glass and inserting layers of armor plate into the body panels. Unlike a military armored car, which has armor plate mounted on the outside of the vehicle, a civilian armored car typically looks no different from a standard vehicle.


Civilian armored cars are either (in only a few cases) factory produced, such as the Audi A6 and A8, Lincoln Town Car BPS, the Hyundai Equus, the BMW High Security series, or (in the majority of cases) retrofitted versions of series cars. A security vehicle is made by replacing the windows with bulletproof glass and inserting layers of armor plate under the outer skin of the car, a labor-intensive process that generally takes a few weeks and most often costs upward of $100,000 USD. The makers usually leave the external appearance of the car unchanged, in order that it look as inconspicuous as possible. In most cases materials like Aramid (e.g. Kevlar), HMPE (e.g. Dyneema), composites or ballistic stainless steel plates are used, and the increased mass is offset by a more powerful engine and brakes and stronger shock absorbers. The increased weight means that the mechanical parts of an armored car are subjected to higher forces than normal, which in turn reduces the service life of the car.

Besides the armor itself, many other protective modifications are available: automatic fire extinguishers, run-flat tires, an explosion-resistant fuel tank, remote starting of the car, pressure and temperature control of the tires, a siren or alarm, and an intercom between the exterior and interior of the car, and a PA system, so that the bodyguards inside the car can communicate via a megaphone to individuals outside the car. Sometimes the inside can be sealed or over-pressured, using its own air supply, to protect against poison gas or tear gas attacks. Civilian armored cars may have obvious armor protection such as the Knight XV, or they may be totally indistinguishable from an unarmored model. There are also armored variants of smaller cars, such as the VW Golf, to further conceal their function and capabilities. Large SUVs such as RX 350 are sometimes used as armored vehicles.


Armored cars may be provided by governments for elected officials and senior officials who are at risk. In higher-risk areas including Iraq, Afghanistan and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, even regular officials and public servants may be protected with armored vehicles. Diplomatic missions and private military contractors typically use armored cars as standard vehicles. As a side benefit, armored cars give occupants added protection from intrusion during a car accident. Due to the substantial weight of an armored car, drivers of these vehicles typically have specialized training in tactical driving. This training is provided by bodyguard schools and by police and military units (e.g., the United States Secret Service).


Manufacturers of vehicles often certify their products according to a specific level, based on standards from one of several standards bodied, including:

  • VPAM,[1] typically cited as a "VR" rating such as VR6 - VR9.[2]

See also[edit]