The President's Bullet-Proof Stretch Limo

      February 27, 2013 12:41

      President Park Geun-hye has generated publicity for the armored limousine version of the Hyundai Equus luxury sedan by being driven around in it on the day of her inauguration.

      The armored limousine was made specifically for the inauguration by extending the frame. Other armored versions were given to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former president Lee Myung-bak, but this one is a bit longer.

      Only the vehicle was made in Korea, while most of the armor work was done late last year by Stoof, a German company that specializes in the field.

      A Stoof spokesman told the Chosun Ilbo, "There are two front seats and four in the back, and the car weighs between 4.8 and five tons." Although the car has the same five-liter, eight-cylinder engine as other Equus sedans, "the car's intake and exhaust system was heavily modified so the engine's power has increased substantially from the previous 400 horsepower."

      President Park Geun-hye leaves after her inauguration in the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday. /Newsis

      A Hyundai spokesman said special shock absorbers manufactured by Stoof were installed in order to withstand the five-ton weight of the vehicle, which is two or three times heavier than an ordinary car. The limousine costs around W2 billion (US$1=W1,088), around 20 times the price of an ordinary Equus due to custom modifications in Germany and changes to key components.

      The bullet-proof windows are 650 mm to 750 mm thick and each door weighs more than 100 kg. The floor and interior of the vehicle were bolstered with high-strength steel sheets, as well as kevlar, carbon and ceramic materials. As a result, the armor meets the "B6/B7" levels of German federal standards and can withstand a direct blast from 15 kg of TNT and shots from an AK 47 assault rifle.

      Other gadgets also protect the head of state. The car has an emergency supply of oxygen and a fire extinguishing system in case of poison gas attacks or fire. It is also capable of shutting off its lights quickly to escape quickly at night and driving in pitch darkness with an infrared imaging device.

      The tires are specially made by Dunlop, allowing it to travel at 80 km/h for more than 30 minutes even when all four tires are blown out. Sturdy tires and a powerful engine are essential for an armored vehicle, which needs to be able to escape quickly in case of an attack since no armored car is capable of withstanding high-powered rifle fire for an extended period.

      Among the best armored vehicles in use today is the Cadillac used by U.S. President Barack Obama, known as "the Beast," the Mercedes-Benz Pullman Guard and the BMW High Security. Between 500 to 600 of these vehicles are sold each year, according to industry sources.

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