It was around 1487 when Leonardo da Vinci came up with a design of a tortoise-shaped car, reinforced with metal plates, with an inert turret and armed with guns, to sow panic and destruction among the enemy troops. The car was to be operated from inside by eight men, who would turn the cranks to move the wheels. The idea thought of replacing the men with horses, although he was soon turned off by the thought that animal might become restive in such a narrow and noisy environment. The firing direction would be decided by the men in the upper part of the car; from where they could see the battlefield through slits or potholes.

Fist fighting vehicle

The armored car, and armored, wheeled vehicle usually fitted with a 20-mm to 90-mm gun and a machine gun was the first fighting vehicle. The self-propelled gun is essentially a 100-mm to 200-mm artillery piece mounted in a turret on a medium or a light tracked or wheeled vehicle that is armored to varying degrees. It is a useful anti-tank weapon, through a highly vulnerable one.

War and peace

Automobiles were converted for military use after the beginning of the 20th century, and in 1912, armored cars were used in action for the first time. The British Army used them for the policing of a distant colonial outposts.

After the war, armored cars for civilian use made their appearance. Armor was applied for truck bodies to enable the safe transport of currency, payrolls and other valuables without fear of easy loss to armed robbers. These vehicles are essentially bulletproof chambers with armored doors and gun ports and with space for valuables and armed guards.

During the Second World War, armored cars were large in numbers. They performed poorly on wet or uneven terrain in drawing a difference between tracked vehicles, but the former moved faster on roads or other flat expanses. They relied on speed for protection, thus mailing them good reconnaissance vehicles.

Developments improvised designs in the passing of time, attaining the best compromise between appearance, weight and ballistic protection. There are certain other parameters which are yet to be trusted again.

Safety concern

In some countries, according to a security specialist, Ramon Peji, “Armored cars are safe, but we cannot totally depend on its workmanship for its safety. Locally produced cars are only made up of ordinary steel and usually we depend on its speed for its safety.”

He adds: “The specifications of some armored cars have no standard width unlike others with ‘state-of-the-art’ automotive technology and impeccable workmanship. But it’s different with the Central Bank. They have sophisticated cars and discreet styling – besides they travel in convoy.”

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