Forget designer shoes and handbags ─ armoured cars are where it’s at in the celebrity world. At least, that’s if ex-Spice Girl and America’s Got Talent host Mel B’s recent purchase is anything to go by.
Scary Spice decided that what she wanted, what she really, really wanted was a £200,000 heavily modified Cadillac Escalade capable of electrocuting anyone who tries to get into it via a 240v ‘non-lethal’ shock system built into the door handles. Talk about zig-a-zig-aaaargh!
Moreover, heavy armour plating makes her SUV capable of surviving assault rifle bullets and bomb explosions, while a pressurised cabin protects Mel B and her entourage from a potential gas attack. Yes, it has onboard oxygen supplies.
If your assailant then decides to give chase, you can even unleash a cloud of white smoke and small spikes that are designed to burst the tyres of the assailant’s vehicle. James Bond, eat your heart out.
The heavily modified Escalade is the work of Texas Armoring Corporation, which said it has seen a surge in the number of famous clients wanting similar vehicles, including rapper and producer Kanye West, golf heavyweight Tiger Woods and Sacha Baron Cohen AKA Ali G.
“Five years ago we had no Hollywood celebrities as customers, Mr Forston of Texas Armoring told the Daily Mail. “Nowadays, we have anywhere between 10 to 15 orders a year from celebrities and professional athletes.”
Think all of this is a bit drastic? So do we. But according to the Texas Armoring website, 40,000 to 60,000 kidnappings take place each year in the US, with the average ransom ranging from US$500,000 to US$3,000,000.
Just about any vehicle can be given the armour treatment, including the already mental Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG 6×6 behemoth. In this particular case, armoured panels are fitted that can withstand bullets from an AK47 and other high-powered assault rifles, the fuel tank is covered with a ballistic nylon and the suspension is upgraded to cope with the extra weight.
Turning an AMG 6×6 into a bullet-proof monster reportedly costs a staggering US$1.35 million. And who can put a price on safety?
It goes without saying, the extra weight from such armour plating will negatively affect fuel economy and CO2 emissions. These things are not for the eco-minded, then, but for driving through war-torn villages or, more likely, down Hollywood Boulevard to buy some shoes, Texas Armoring is about as safe as it gets.