JOHANNESBURG - You never thought you needed a bullet-proof car until you get the opportunity to drive one.
It’s quite cool actually, driving around like a boss imagining you’re some kind of VIP or wild gangster knowing that your competition can whip out as many guns as they want but the chances of sleeping at home are almost guaranteed.
This is especially true living where we do, with crime spiralling out of control and criminals always on the look-out to find new ways to benefit from their illegal gains, including cell-phones, cigarettes and any other items that have a price on the black market.
That’s not even taking into consideration the more than 18 000 vehicle hijackings that take place annually.
Most armoured protection vehicles are obviously owned by security companies, mines, cash in transit companies and high-risk transportation industries where armed accompaniment vehicles are a must.
We all know that the security industry in this country is an enormous one that also employs many thousands of people from the CEOs down to the guy that arrives at your gate when the house alarm goes off.
Thing is, once you tamper with a new car, manufacturers become hesitant when it comes to warranty claims and slapping on a host of gear that prevents bullets is a little more than lifting your suspension or putting on bigger tyres.
So it’s good news that Ford South Africa has now teamed up with SVI Engineering to allow Ford-approved armoured protection for their Ranger. Both for private and fleet customers.
It makes things so much easier now, being able to go to a Ford dealership, ordering your Ranger and then getting it armour plated to your specifications, knowing that the warranty won’t be affected.
SVI Engineering was formed in 2004 as a mechanical engineering and rapid-product development firm with capabilities in product design, finite element analysis, as well as the development, product evaluation and manufacturing of armoured products for the military, security, and civilian markets.
So what kind of armoured spec can you order?
There are two options B4 discreet and B6 armoured specification.
The B4 discreet is typically an anti-hijack solution that’s good for protection against handguns up to a .44 Magnum as well as any hand-held projectiles that may be thrown your way. It consists of 18-21mm armoured glass in combination with Kevlar sheets for the body. It is extremely discreet and, at only 280kg on the Ranger Double Cab, also lightweight with minimal impact on vehicle acceleration, fuel consumption and performance. The build time of a B4 armoured Ranger is around eight weeks.
The big daddy is the B6 armoured specification which is the highest spec allowed for civilian protection.
It will stop an R1 assault rifle as well as an AK47 and consists of 38mm armoured glass and special armoured steel plates. It adds 650kg and the Ranger’s suspension upgraded accordingly.
You get to choose between a discreet appearance, or a non-discreet option, called Stopgun V2.0.
The discreet option features upgrades not easily identifiable on the vehicle, against the more obvious protection on the non-discreet Stopgun option. The discreet option takes 12 weeks to build, while the Stopgun security option can be installed in two weeks.
We got to drive both versions and to be honest the B4 discreet felt only like you may have had a couple of cement bags on the back. Apart from the obviously heavier door the ride felt solid and the interior completely stripped to allow for installation, was exactly like it would have come off the showroom floor.
The windscreen and windows are ever-so slightly distorted but nothing that would hinder you or be a cause for concern.
The B6 non-discreet option is an in your face, see what you can do kind of bakkie. The upgraded suspension handles the weight well and the heavy metal plates and thick glass surround you in a cocoon of safety, the kind you’d like to be in on new-year's eve in Hillbrow.
It’s a booming business no doubt and Ford has done well to provide customers and fleet owners peace of mind knowing that armoured modifications won’t have any effect on their warranties.
B6 Stop Gun V2.0 non-discreet
Ranger Single Cab - R234 413
Ranger Super Cab - R271 163
Ranger Double Cab - R335 202
Ranger Single Cab - R338 386
Ranger Super Cab - R454 371
Ranger Double Cab - R454 371
Ranger Single Cab - R527 990
Ranger Super Cab - R688 225
Ranger Double Cab - R688 225