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Old 02-23-2008, 03:12 PM   #98
stickfigure OP
Fiendish Fluoridator
 
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Please don't call it 'Frisco
Oddometer: 519
Make Me Bulletproof

"A funny thing happened on the way to the airport..."

My flight was at 5pm but I got up at 8am to leave plenty of time for the unexpected. The rule while traveling in Latin America is that you do only one thing per day, and I was going to try two - "leave motorcycle at shop" and "fly out of country".

The ride to the shop was confusing as hell and took about an hour of wrong turns. Strategizing a route across Mexico City would challenge Garry Kasparov, and my Zumo is no Deep Blue. The autorouting is useless.

The KTM shop in Mexico City (Motoaltavista) is very nice. I was happy to see about a dozen 640 Adventures in various states of repair, including a 660 Rally. They took my motorcycle, listened to my instructions (new rear tire, increase rear shock preload, replace all the bolts that vibrated out), and stored my gear.

A well-dressed Columbian man who spoke perfect English struck up a conversation with me in the shop. Alejandro has a few KTMs including a 640 Adventure, and we spent a good hour talking about motorcycles. He even offered me a ride to the airport, which I accepted. Then he offered me a tour of his workplace - Alejandro designs bulletproof cars. I accepted!!

Here is Ballistic Protection. They're pretty much the top-end maker of bulletproof cars. They will take almost any car and rebuild it as bulletproof.



Here's Alejandro standing in front of a finished Escalade. From the outside you can't tell that the vehicle is bulletproof:



The interior finish is perfect as well. The giveaway is when you roll down the window and see the thickness of the glass. The Escalade has level three protection, which will stop most small arms:



A different car with level three protection:



This window is thicker. The car has level five protection, which will stop armor-piercing sniper weapons:



Another level five window, this one on a BMW X5. Alejandro had to design a completely new mechanism for electrically raising and lowering the heavy glass:



A work in progress. They pretty much completely disassemble the body of the car and weld in thick armor plate. The armor panels overlap and include the firewall, floor, and roof of the vehicle. It's amazing that they can preserve the original finish of the interior.



The cutting and grinding of steel plate. The guys in back are using a plasma torch. Alejandro mentioned they regularly test steel from a variety of sources and Russian steel is by far the strongest.



They put runflats in the tires so you can still drive away. They also beef up the brakes and suspension because this process roughly doubles the weight of the car:



The factory floor. They will convert just about any kind of car, not just SUVs:



I was impressed. It was cheaper than I expected; about $35-40k (in addition to the car) for a level 3 vehicle and $90-100k for level 5. I'm glad nobody (that I know of) is that interested in killing me!
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