Newsweek: Armored-Car Makers Say U.S. is one of the Fastest-Growing Markets; Ford, GM, BMW Releasing Cars That Can Stop Bullets, Grenades, Hermetically Seal Shut in Case of Gas Attack
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Newsweek: Armored-Car Makers Say U.S. is one of the Fastest-Growing Markets; Ford, GM, BMW Releasing Cars That Can Stop Bullets, Grenades, Hermetically Seal Shut in Case of Gas Attack

NEW YORK, March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Armored-car makers, whose big customers traditionally have been in developing countries, say the United States is now one of the fastest-growing markets. With homeland insecurity rising, the car business is going ballistic, reports Newsweek Detroit Bureau Chief Keith Naughton. At Scaletta Moloney in Chicago, one of the world's top armoring specialists, U.S. sales have shot up 40 percent since Orange terror alerts entered the lexicon. "People have awoken to the fact that it can happen here," CEO Joe Scaletta tells Newsweek.

(Photo: NewsCom: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030309/NYSU009 )

"This is absolutely a sign of the times," says David Seelinger, president of Secure Car Worldwide, who's struggling to keep up with calls from VIPs eager to pay $2,000 a day to ride in his steel-plated limos. CEOs are armoring themselves against terrorism, movie stars are getting death threats and rappers fear assassination. To keep up with demand, Seelinger has more than tripled his armored fleet to 10 cars, Naughton reports in the March 17 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, March 10).

Naughton reports that Ford is introducing the $140,000 Lincoln Town Car BPS-for Ballistic Protection Series-which can stop an AK-47 and block a grenade. Later this year GM will roll out an armored Cadillac Deville capable of deflecting bullets from a .44 magnum. At last week's Geneva Motor Show, BMW introduced the 760Li High Security, which can be hermetically sealed in a gas attack and supply its occupants with germ-free oxygen. Car-armor customizers are now putting full-metal jackets on Cadillac Escalades and Hummer H2s-at prices ranging from $30,000 to $350,000 above sticker price.

On the street, armored cars are designed to avoid attention. But heave open the armor-plated doors, and you'll see "bullet traps" framing the inside of the doors. The Lincoln and an armored Chevy Suburban driven by Newsweek gripped snowy roads like a tank, thanks to nearly a ton of body armor. But the most startling part about being encased in sound-deadening armor is the eerie silence. "It's like being inside a coffin," says Lincoln's BPS Marketing Chief Mark Bentley.

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