Share on Facebook
Top Marques Monaco recently wrapped up, and while these sorts of celebrations of excess tend to center mostly around sports cars, there were a couple of other boutique manufacturers who brought a very different type of vehicle. These are vehicles made for wealthy people from regions of the world where the rich need to actually drive near those they have screwed over to become rich. In such situations, security is a fairly high priority.
These are not simply military vehicles though, this odd but expanding segment of the automotive industry is awash in super-luxurious interiors and exotic materials. The first of these companies is Dartz, and it doesn't come as a huge shock that they are from Eastern Europe (equally unsurprising is how many of their customers are in the Middle East). This Latvian firm set up shop in an old pre-Soviet military armored-car factory, from which they draw inspiration. Their Kombat T-98 military vehicle can be decked out with a whole host of luxury features, and the ultra-luxury edition gets the name Prombron.
Conquest Vehicles, the Toronto, Ontario-based maker of the Knight XV takes a slightly more sober (although far less entertaining, in our opinion) approach to making vehicles. The Knight XV is based on the Gurkha military vehicle, and just as it is with the Dartz, it bears a strong resemblance to the military version. The resemblance is so strong that many sources have wrongly identified the Gurkha in leaked photos from the upcoming Fast 5 as a Knight XV. Although the Knight XV and the Prombrom might be a bit flashier than their more utilitarian cousins, don't think that they've scrimped on armoring.
Either vehicle can be can be ordered with an armor rating ranging from B2, which will stop 9mm rounds, to B7, which is capable of stopping the 7.62X54mm rounds fired by the Dragunov sniper rifle. Claims have been made that this level of armoring can also withstand 12mm heavy machine gun rounds and even RPG's, but the super-rich generally try not to hang around too long in areas where these weapons are being used. The interiors of these vehicles can be customized in ways that are mostly limited by your imagination, although this is more true of the Prombrom.
The Knight XV can be ordered with an absurdly opulent interior if you want, but Conquest Vehicles seems to be aiming this more at the Business Class crowd. Suggested layouts for the interior turn the Knight XV into a sort of rolling boardroom, made for earnest businessmen who just happen to have driven into the wrong neighborhood, or regional conflict. The truth is, unless you're trading arms for conflict diamonds, most private citizens who need protection from sniper fire have also been flaunting their largesse in some way, and nothing flaunts like the Dartz Prombrom.
With diamond-encrusted gauges and a grille covered in rubies, Dartz knows their customers, and knows that they have no interest in being subtle. The Knight XV starts at just under $300,000 but Dartz takes a good deal of pride in no two of their vehicles being the same, so there is no base price to speak of. One similarly equipped to the Knight XV would probably come at a similar price, but Dartz tells us their motto is "You can choose anything, if you can pay for it". This approach makes sense to me for this sort of vehicle. A luxury armored SUV can't help but show off, no point in doing it half-assed.