As the go-to car manufacturer for heads of state, VIPs, and executives, Mercedes-Benz has been giving its distinguished clientele the option to boost its security features since 1928. It began with the custom 1928 Nürburg 460 model, made to withstand gunshots and explosives. Over the years, it has provided safer, more secure cars for kings and presidents, including Japan’s Emperor Hirohito, who took delivery of a custom-armored Grand Mercedes 770 in 1935. In 1965, Mercedes-Benz began offering special protection on models such as the 600 Saloon and the 280 SEL 3.5. These days, the brand’s special protection offerings are sold under the Mercedes-Benz Guard marque, which provides extra security features on its key models across the S-Class, G-Class, and GLE series.
It includes the Mercedes-Maybach S 600 Guard and the flagship stretch Mercedes-Maybach S 600 Pullman Guard. The S 600 Guard is the first civilian vehicle to be certified VR 10, the highest ballistic protection rating for non-military vehicles. This means that the car’s bodywork and windows are able to withstand hits from hardened steel core bullets fired from an assault rifle. More appropriate for heads of state than the self-made millionaire, the stretch Mercedes-Maybach S 600 Pullman Guard enjoys a protection level of VR 9. Both cars are designed to endure explosions in accordance with Directive ERV 2010 for explosive-resistant vehicles. Special protection equipment is barely discernible from the outside of the Pullman Guard.
Armoring these vehicles stars with the body shell, with protective components with special steel integrated between the body structure and the car’s outer skin. Special aramid and polyethylene components protect passengers from splinters. Windows are reinforced with polycarbonates on the inside while maintaining their visual qualities. Underbody armoring covers the length of the occupant compartment, providing additional protection from blasts. All these are designed as an integrated system following the Guard principle of “sophisticated integration of all protective elements.” This protection comes with a price. Though these cars may look the same as their standard counterparts, they are far more complicated, and more expensive, to construct. The Mercedes-Maybach S 600 Guard starts at EUR 470,000 or around PHP 25 million, while the price of the Pullman Guard is EUR 1.4 million.
Photographs courtesy of Daimler Ag
This story first appeared in Vault Magazine Issue No.21 2016