Rancho Cucamonga, California - I suppose you’d have to call it a tactical SUV. This is the Rhino GX Executive Model by US Specialty Vehicles, their specialty being all-wheel drive mobile blockhouses that look look like military vehicles on the outside but are fitted out with plutocratic luxury on the inside. Sort of like an iron fist with a velvet lining…
It’s based on an upgraded Ford F450 Super Duty ladder frame chassis with beefed-up ‘smart’ suspension (you’ll see why in a moment), with either a 6.7-litre turbodiesel or a 6.8-litre V10 petrol, in either case driving all four wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission. It rolls on special forged-alloy 20 inch rims and 395/55 R20 Toyo Open Country M/T all-terrain tyres.
The five-seat body is built by USSV using double-skinned cold-rolled steel sheet over an integral steel-tube roll cage; only the bolt-on wheel arch flares and bumpers are made of composite material. With a full (140 litre) fuel tank, the finished vehicle weighs close to five tons - hence the uprated suspension - and it’s 8.85 metres long without the spare wheel on the rear door, 2.44 metres wide and 2.235 metres high, on the standard F450 wheelbase of 3.575 metres.
It's available in your choice of three colours: matte black, olive green and desert sand.
Now it gets fancy.
The interior is trimmed throughout in leather with dark wood and chrome accents, suede headliner (real suede, not alcantara), a luxury rear centre console and armrest, USSV emblems on the heated and cooled, six way front and eight way rear power-adjustable seats (with footrests at the rear), dual-zone air conditioning (front and rear), premium sound system, 102cm TV with satellite receiver on the back of the partition between the front and rear seats, intercom, electric sunroof - and a second alternator to cope with the electrical load.
If you have to ask…
USSV doesn’t quote prices on its website, but a figure of $249 000 (R3 million) has been bandied about the cybergarage for the ‘standard’ Rhino GX, ex works, without the partition, TV and business-class rear seats. We reckon you’ll have to add at least 10 percent to that for the Executive Model.