As unlikely as it seems, presidents and leaders of Mexican drug cartels do have something in common. Wherever they go, the chances are fairly good that someone out there wants them dead.
That is where the “beasts” come in…these cars are designed to make sure that their occupants make their lunch dates and get home with nothing more than heartburn from overindulging to worry about.
Unfortunately, if you are American, proving that your beast of a car is the best and biggest means that it is ugly and likely to attract attention — something that can cause you embarrassment when you least need it.
Imagine being Barack Obama sitting in solitary splendour in your armour-plated marvel and having a secret service agent rapping on the window and asking you to get out and help push because your monstrous vehicle is stuck on an embassy garage ramp.
Stretching the ‘Beast’: The Trump mobile
The presidential beast has been around for years, but in its present form was introduced in 2018 when Donald Trump felt that it was time he trumped the 2009 Obama model with something more suited to his taste.
Enter the stretch Cadillac with a price tag of $1.5 million (about R25.5 million) and all the bells and whistles needed to keep the presidential Donald safe.
The passenger windows don’t open — a good thing if there is a sniper around — and are composed of five bulletproof glass and polycarbonate layers.
The driver’s window only opens a few centimetres — probably so he can pick up flyers from the beggars on street corners (The United States is a democracy after all). The doors are also armour-plated, bulletproof, and sealed to prevent chemical attacks (and keep The Donald’s hot air inside ). They also weigh as much as the doors on a Boeing 757.
The shred and puncture-resistant tyres have steel rims that can be driven on in case of an emergency…seeing the car weighs 9 000kg, that is just as well. The bodywork, built of steel, aluminium, titanium, and ceramic compounds is reinforced with steel plates making the vehicle bomb-proof.
For the secret service people riding inside, the vehicle has a supply of pump-action shotguns, and tear gas grenade launchers are fitted up front with night vision cameras. The car also has a firefighting system in the rear, as well as smoke screen dispensers, panic buttons and oxygen supply.
The King: Private sector’s ‘obscene’ answer to the Beast
If you are a drug lord or have bad taste (it is great to be subjective) you could upgrade your bulletproof but sophisticated Range Rover Sentinel that weighs in at 4 500kg for the Karlmann King, billed as the world’s most expensive SUV — a vehicle that also proves the saying that having lots of money doesn’t mean you have taste.
The private sector’s answer to the Trump Beast, the King, is obscene.
One used example with only 100km on the clock is on offer at $3.8 million (about R64.6 million) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is tough when even the manufacturers find out that it is too embarrassing to drive one in the desert.
The vehicle is built on a Ford F-550 chassis and runs off the standard 6.8-litre V10 engine, the King can reach a top speed of about 220km/h, but it drops to 140km/h if you opt for bullet-proofing because it then weighs in at about 6 000kg.
Bulletproof ‘luxury rolling lounge’
Kitsch, sorry, luxurious, touches include a pop-up TV screen, fridge, coffee machine, champagne flutes and coffee cups, PlayStation 4, and “starry roof, coloured LEDs throughout”.
If you want what is described as a bulletproof “luxury rolling lounge” and don’t want to be interrupted as you sit inside on alligator skin seats sipping coffee while some bandit lets rip with an AK47 outside, then this probably the vehicle for you.
The merciful thing about the vehicle is that it is thought that only seven were made. There is evidently one in Africa, but the owner has disguised it as a battered Gypsey caravan so that he can avoid the laughter of friends and neighbours.