For a layman, an armored car means: a car in which body panels are replaced with a thick high strength steel, glasses are replaced with armored glasses & high strength steel is added to the bottom, & special tyres are used. Apart from this the car's weight might increase tremendously lowering the speed & mpg.
But things aren't as simple as it sounds. After all we are talking about the security of VIPs' & the State Heads.
Here is an inside view of how things are done:
One may take their own vehicle for the conversion into an armored one, but many companies prefer to work on the cars in which they are experienced. The most popular sedans are DTS, Fords, & Lincoln Town car. As they come with a 'heavy duty pack', which means the automakers, supply these companies directly with a special package of engine upgrade & other parts to support the additional weight.
Depending upon the choice of armor, the car weight can go 500 to 6000 pounds extra. For instance a Cadillac DTS that weighs 4500 pounds can have a number of armor packages added to it.
It takes about 30 to 90 days depending on the level of protection chosen for the transformation of the vehicle. And if you are among those who want to choose the highest level of protection, then it may add to somewhere between $ 70,000 to $ 100, 000 to the cost of the vehicle.
This is a labor-intensive process, which involves replacement of the windows of the car with the armored glass & layers of armor are inserted under the outer layer of the car. The external appearance of the car is left in its original condition to make the changes inconspicuous.
Every vehicle is tested & once confirmed to the norms & standards, the vehicles are handed over to the customers.
And here is the process of transformation, though this is not a standard norm to be followed or to be benchmarked, but companies follow something similar:
Receiving the vehicle
Disassembling the vehicle
Mitsubishi arriving at the armoring plant.
Checking vehicle for any problems that may effect the armoring process.
Checking engine compartment.
Future placement of glass sunroof.
Making room for interior armor.
Even the roof has to be protected.
Quarter panels prepared for armoring.
Completely disassembled, ready for armoring.
Original parts saved to be fixed once the amour plating is done.
Protecting the outer surface to maintain quality appearance after armoring is completed.
Attention to details helps wrap the vehicle in a protective armored cover.
Each piece of armor is custom made to exacting specifications.
Preparing the vehicle for armor.
Welding armor into place.
Armoring between cabin & engine compartment.
Armor welded to interior.
Armor overlap for windows.
Armor overlap for windows.
Armor welds between door.
Interior kevlar protection.
Kevlar armor for the roof.
Kevlar armor is placed inside the doors to help reduce the weight while maintaining protection.
Top to bottom protection.
Painted to maintain the original appearance.
Painting the interior of armored vehicle.
Preparing armored vehicle for protective glass installation.
protective glass all around.
Leather trim on armored overlap.
Door joints are armored & finished.
Top view of armored door joint.
Final inspection - interior of armored vehicle.
Finished product with armoring & protective glass.
Original appearance retained in armored SUV
Fully armored vehicle.
Apart from these there are somethings like:
Run Flat Tire System:
Allows the vehicle to travel up to 60 miles at 60 mph (depending on road conditions) on flattened tires, the protective rubberized plastic 'roller' ring is designed, molded & installed inside each tire around the rim. And when the tyres are deflated it acts as a solid rubber ring backup tire.
It's a standard norm to replace the original batteries with dry-cell batteries, which prevents the vehicle becoming inoperable in an event of any issue with the acid-based battery.
Box within a box, which provides rollover protection.
Reinforced hinges made from the same protection level materials as used in the main body of the vehicle.
Optional fuel tank armor.
Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
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Many a times we have seen cars of various State Heads & we know all these cars are armored ones.