The idea of armored cars is not new. However, the definition has certainly changed over the years. In the beginning, an armored vehicle was considered one that contained armed passengers who were there to protect the cargo the vehicle was carrying. For example, transport caravans were often escorted by armed men who would fend off would be hijackers.
Later, the vehicles themselves were fitted with weaponry that was used to defend against an attack. Spanish galleons often had cannons built in to fend off pirates while they sailed on the open seas. It wasn’t until around World War I that the armored vehicles, as they are known today, were created.
As one would expect, the military was the first to employ armored vehicles in the modern sense. The Motor War Car was the first manufactured car that hit the scene in 1902. It was developed by F.R. Simms and featured Vickers armor that was 6 mm thick, two Maxim guns, two turrets, a 16 hp engine, and could charge through a war zone at 9 mph. Seeing the benefits of this new technology, other countries quickly followed with their own developments and usage of armored cars. For example, the British RAF used armored cars made by Rolls-Royce called the Pattern Mk.
It wasn’t long before armored cars made their way to the public sector. They are used by a variety of industries as well as a number of private citizens. In the public sphere, armored vehicles fall into two categories; manufactured and retrofitted. The most common types manufactured are vans or trucks.
These are often used in the commercial sector to transport valuables such as cash or jewelry. Most are driven by armed guards. Retrofitted vehicles are cars or SUVs that have bullet proof plating and glass installed after they leave the factory. These upgrades are generally commissioned by wealthy private citizens or governments.
Although armored vehicles protect the passengers from gunfire, the main disadvantage to their use is the extra weight requires a powerful engine to move the vehicle. This may result in lower gas mileage and higher than normal upkeep requirements.
Additional, not all armored cars will protect the occupants from bomb explosions. Also the quality of workmanship also affects how effective the bullet proofing will be. Low quality vehicles can still put the passengers at risk because of the imperfection introduced into the materials. Always purchase from a reputable manufacturer.