Armored Opulence: Dartz Prombron

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How do you show off while simultaneously protecting yourself from the haters? The only way to go is the Dartz Prombron.

If you hadn't already figured out we'd be covering the Dartz Prombron in this series, then you don't read CarBuzz enough. Regular readers know that we love Dartz, thanks to the company's willingness to fulfill basically any insane request that physics and the customer's budget allows. In fact, the Prombron shows that Dartz is not only willing to make insane vehicles, but it very strongly encourages it. Dartz is run by a man named Leonard Yankelovich, or Leo, as he likes to be called.

This is important because it is Leo's complete disinterest in following established car-building norms which has made Dartz what it is. The company is based in Latvia, headquartered in the old RussoBaltique factory. This was a company which built armored cars for the Czars. The name is now owned by another Latvian company which makes trailers, but it is Dartz which is very much the spiritual successor to the old company. You may have even seen the Prombron (well, three of them) in the movie "The Dictator", where it served as part of the motorcade for His Excellency Admiral General Aladeen.

And if you missed that, there will be one in "Die Hard 5". Dartz now even sells an Aladeen Edition of the Prombron, all decked out so that you can play dictator yourself. You might not even be playing, as the Dartz website boasts "supplier of tzars, admirals, generals and the dictators since 1869". You'll certainly need that sort of income level for a Prombron, as the Red Diamond Edition of the car sells for about $1.5 million and is marketed as the world's most expensive SUV. Of course, Leo hates the term SUV, describing such vehicles as "farmers' shit", and preferring the term BNOV for Bespoke Noble Opulent Vehicle.

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Buyers have a choice of Saloon (sedan) or Pullman (the extended wagon body) styles, as well as a number of different special editions. But they are encouraged to take advantage of customization options, and at least one Prombron has been built with the entire back area converted into a sort of rolling bedroom. Another, which reportedly went to a customer in China, was apparently optioned up to a price of $7 million. There are also a fair number of options which are expensive for the sake of being expensive, such as diamonds in the gauge cluster, rubies in the grille and gold plated everything. It may be crass, but wouldn't exist if there wasn't a market for it.

Leo is himself part of the marketing for the Prombron, and he comes across as just as wild and unpredictable as the vehicles he's selling. He claims that vodka was one of his chief inspirations for the Prombron, and routinely sends out promotional material featuring pictures of nude models. Generally just doing whatever the hell he wants is part of the lifestyle image that sells the cars, and it works. Dartz is continuing to grow quickly, and recently opened a new dealership in Dubai. But all of this wackiness aside, the Prombron is a serious armored vehicle.

A number of different armoring levels are available, but the highest is B7, which puts this on the same level with all of the most serious armored vehicles in this series. And like the Knight XV, the Prombron was designed from the beginning to be armored, and hasn't simply been converted. Leo has compared converted armored cars to boob jobs in the past, saying that adding armor never quite comes out right. He says that to build an armored car properly, it should be built from the ground up, and this actually makes a lot of sense. Leo takes the armoring process very seriously, pointing out that he has on his staff two former snipers, veterans of Afghanistan and Chechnya.

He has ex-KGB with him too, and Leo himself is a vet, an old infantry Sergeant. We're buddies with Leo here at CarBuzz, and when we told him we were doing this piece, he summed up for us why you should buy his armored car. "Merc or BMW protect you from idiots, not professionals. When people know, they prepare. When prepare - big chance to kill. So Dartz - big armor extender, best extender." He then added the all-important "more help to find bitch." The Prombron is obviously a vehicle for someone with a ton of money and who in all likelihood believes that "sophistication" is just the name of a dance club.

But Dartz is hugely entertaining, and in a world where everybody else is taking themselves far too seriously, it's nice to see someone who isn't at all.

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