This is the megalomaniac’s worst nightmare…..
This 1994 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham has a secret. Its high-tech LT1 Corvette engine is part of the secret….but it has a deeper hidden secret. This is “Super-car…able to leap large parking lots in a single bound, more powerful than a locomotive….and tough as Kryptonite!” This car has the ability to save lives. It is a rolling fortress with Level III NIJ-B5 certified armor protection. It is very important for an armored or bullet-proof vehicle to retain its anonymity….and in a way that does not disfigure the beauty of the vehicle.
The driver is the key role player in this dramatic scenario. He must be trained to operate a High-Security vehicle properly in a life or death situation with no pre-notification….at a second’s notice he is summoned to save the lives of everyone inside….including himself. There are two import types of armor, transparent and opaque, that are involved in this process.
I researched this process through Texas Armoring Corporation, they expedite exemplary examples of life-saving vehicles and are purveyors in this technology. The 1994 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham that you see here was made by Safe Car Armor in 1994 and didn’t alter its appearance whatsoever. This car retained its Cadillac elegance and poised dignity. It blends into the streets like a daily driver should.
OK…which is real and which is Memorex?
The top photo is the secret agent
There’s more involved than merely adding a few pieces of metal to a car to make a bullet-proof and armored vehicle. It takes a thorough knowledge of ballistics, explosives, and tactics used by the potential threat. A complete assessment of the vehicle is made including, its vulnerability, and the re-designing components to properly armor the vehicle.
Alterations should be invisible, because it is imperative to remain low-key in high profile situations. Armor reinforcement is the basic component that shields everyone riding from harm. The passengers are clad in a rolling fortress made of multiple plates of corrosion resistant steel, steel alloys, or special composite materials. So you see, this 1994 Fleetwood Brougham fights back. And how does it fight back?
One important material in particular is called Spectra-Shield for the “opaque armor.” It is a ballistic composite material manufactured by Honeywell Advanced Fibers and Composites, for both soft and hard armor. One example, multiple layers of high-performance fiber laid at right angles to allow the energy of a projectile to rapidly dissipate along the length of the fiber itself.
All composites are designed to provide superior ballistic and fragment protection performance at the lowest possible weight. Each of their ballistic composite materials are designed with specific applications per specification of the client’s individual situation. Honeywell has a complete line of ballistic composite materials for vehicle armor.
Other very important materials include, Lexan a “transparent armor” which can be used in applications where premium bullet-proof glass cannot be used. It is transparent with excellent optical clarity, you really cannot see it….which is the whole point. Kevlar and aramid fibers (opaque armor) are the pinnacle in superior blast, fragmentation, explosive, and small arms ballistic protection. All materials are tested by an independent laboratory and fabricated to TAC specifications. Ballistic fiberglass (opaque armor) is used where Spectra-Shield, steel, and aramid fibers wouldn’t work.
There two ways a bullet-proof vehicle may be made; either starting while it is a new-build adding armor to a bare chassis, or the vehicle may be retro-fitted after build. The latter method requires the vehicle to be stripped hollow to add the armor per specification desired. The walls, the roof, pillar posts, firewall, doors, and floors are all modified. There are additional pieces called “door over-laps” that seal vulnerable seams between the doors and body.
Some vehicles have the material applied between the driver’s seat and rear passenger compartment. The vehicle’s glass must also be swapped out or otherwise cancels the effort, as we all know a “visible target” is an eminent threat. Today’s bullet-proof glass is made from laminated layers of glass sandwiched between a polycarbonate to create the “transparent” armor.
Next, what good would an armored vehicle be if it were suddenly immobilized? This type of vehicle MUST be able to “snap-to” in a second’s notice to speed out of harm’s way. The underpinnings and engine must be part of the rolling fortress. All computers and electronics, battery, and radiator, are all shielded. Bullet-proof vehicles are also equipped with run flat tires. A run flat does reduce tire and wheel damage by supporting the wheel off the tire saving the tire. There is a special lubricant between the run flat insert to reduce heat and friction prolonging the tire and optimizing the run flat.
The run flat is made of two parts: a roller and a runner. The runner is attached to secure the unit and the roller is allowed to move at the same speed of the tire reducing friction and dissipating heat faster. Some conversions use heavy-duty ramming bumpers welded to the front and rear of the car behind the bumper covers so it may “Bogard” through attempts to block the get-away. The last obstacle to over-come is to build the armor into the body seamlessly without disfiguring the luxury as witnessed by this 1994 Fleetwood Brougham, the armor is virtually undetected except for the glass that is extremely thick.
To effectively utilize the High-Security vehicle, training is essential to properly expedite spur of the moment life-saving tactics. Protective driver training tailored towards armored vehicles is an important part of a detailed security program. Evasive driving techniques for example, can be dangerous with a vehicle of such formidable stature and weight….one must get away fast, therefore the maneuvering must be mastered.
He must also be aware of surveillance detection techniques. He is more than a driver, in some cases he is the bodyguard. To drive one of these High-Security sedans one must master the multi-tasking involved in life or death situations. Immediate action is crucial….anti-kidnapping skills, and any route planning must be instantaneous and every second counts. The driver is the key element, this is why he must be trained properly and thoroughly. He has got to move all of that sheet metal safely, precisely, and with aplomb!
A GOOD armored vehicle should shield the occupants from danger and get away from the threat as quickly as possible. A more powerful engine, brakes, and a beefed-up suspension is needed to support the alterations and additional weight requirements.
After adding all the mass to an armored vehicle, it must have the foundation upgraded to accept the added weight. And those brakes are extremely important now that all of that weight has been increased…to stop all of that sheet metal safely, we don’t want to escape the megalomaniacs only to kill ourselves because the brakes failed! The interior can be sealed or over-pressured using its own air supply guarding against poison gas attacks.
Other alterations include automatic fire extinguishers, an explosion resistant gas tank with an inner bladder that seals itself, pressure and temperature control of the tires, a siren, an alarm, and an intercom system that offers communication from within the vehicle to the outside situation without compromising the security by opening the vehicle are just a few of the myriad protection modifications available.
These may be combined and tailored in a completely bespoke manner for every situation. An added value of the High-Security vehicle is its ability to resist intrusion during an automobile accident because of its structural integrity. This is why the price easily exceeds six figures just for the conversion alone. But you cannot put a price on a human life!
The manner in which it is serviced and stored is paramount to a High-Security vehicle. Everyone may not have access to it at any time. It requires special attention to retain its anonymity. There are special service vendors who are bonded and certified with minimal exposure from anyone coming in contact with the vehicle, and requiring those that do to have a security clearance. The vehicle also must be stored securely without any outside interference within a totally secure environment.
There are internationally accepted standards which define levels of protection. The US Department of Justice; Office of Justice Programs for the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is one such agency. “A ballistic threat posed by a bullet depends on its composition, shape, caliber, mass, angle of incidence, and impact velocity.
The performance test summary describes the absolute minimum of Level I stopping a .22 caliber LR LRN @ 329 meters per second all the way to Level IV .30 caliber M2 AP @ 869 meters per second, then the “Special” Level has exclusive specifications that are designed to meet the mission requirements custom tailored to the possibility of the threat. Velocity test requirements are determined by using two independent sets of instrumentation.
Velocities are recorded from each then the arithmetic mean of the two velocities will be calculated and recorded. The measured velocities from each set recorded shall be within 3 meters per second. If specified correlation is not achieved the test velocity shall be obtained from the widest instrument spacing available. Equipment used to measure velocity involves photo electric light screens, printed make circuit screens, printed break circuit screens, and ballistic radar.
Independent sets of velocity measurement can be determined by any two sets of the pre-mentioned or any paired set combination. Ballistic limits, calculations, and ballistic limit re-testing of compliant armor are determined by the NIJ. Armor found non-compliant with its ballistic limit will be further investigated and scrutinized by the NIJCTP (NIJ Compliant Testing Program.)
It is imperative to know what level of armor is needed and the perceived threat. The vehicle modifications also must be discreet as I mentioned before, it has to blend into the street traffic. This 1994 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham is a Level III NIJ-B5 armored vehicle. It hides all of its protection anonymously as a High-Security vehicle should.
A Level “III” NIJ III A Level armor is designed to withstand multiple 9mm submachine rounds. With Level B5 armor, it stops the Five-Seven pistol caliber 57x28mm, Three AK-47 Kalashnikov 7.62×39 rounds @ 730 meters per second (soft-core), Three 5.56 NATO M193 and SS109 rounds @ 930 meters per second (soft or hard-core), and One 7.62 NATO Ball round @ 830 meters per second (M-80 soft-core). So you see how well this 1994 Fleetwood Brougham can fend off the megalomaniacs in the world without working up a sweat. I told you it fights back!
Texas Armoring of San Antonio Texas is a leading innovator in the design and manufacture of armored cars, lightweight, transparent, and opaque armor for both automotive and architectural applications.
TAC focuses on engineering, innovation, protection, lightweight armor applications, and impeccable finishing, and has delivered thousands of High-Security vehicles throughout the world to distinguished individuals ranging from elite heads of state, to celebrities, as well as royal families. TAC has been offering discretion and integrity since the 1970s. Per Texas Armoring: “A properly armored vehicle can help you disarm potential terrorists and prevent kidnapping threats. Life is valuable….protect it.”
This salute is dedicated to Texas Armoring for exemplary performance in a position of discretion, and Matt Garrett/GM Classics. This is another beauty from his collection. This was the epitome of luxury for King Hussein of Jordan. This beautiful 1994 Fleetwood Brougham is a certified Level III NIJ B-5 High-Security sedan manufactured by Safe Car Armor in 1994. It is majestically powered by the formidable LT1 Corvette 5.7 litre V8 engine and built with the Coachbuilder option.
This is the megalomaniac’s worst nightmare, it’s a rolling fortress as I just described in detail. This Fleetwood retained its anonymity, the basic look is virtually undetectable unless you get close enough to look into the windows, and it looks like looking into glass-block. It’s a 6,600+ lb. behemoth with the heartbeat of a Vette! And…..it has a secret. Thank you Matt Garrett for keeping the spirit alive and quite well!
Looks like it is saying….”Go ahead…make my day!”