Armouring your car is a substantial financial investment in your safety. For SVI, the ballistic protection of your chosen product is the absolute number one priority. To achieve this ultimate level of protection, some compromises in vehicle operation and appearance are unavoidable. SVI has experience in limiting these compromises but best is to be aware when embarking on an armouring exercise.
It is important to note that material needs to be added to a standard vehicle to provide ballistic protection. These materials add mass that will influence several aspects of the vehicle, including acceleration, dynamics and fuel consumption. The magnitude of the impact is determined by the armouring level chosen (please read The right level of armour for more information). B4 (handgun level) will have minimal impact, while B6 (assault rifle protection) does result in a significant influence.
The added mass in the doors does impact the feeling when opening and closing the doors. More force is needed, especially when opening against gravity should the vehicle be parked on a slope. Care needs to be taken when closing a door aided by gravity as the extra mass may lead to a door slam that can both damage the door and result in personal injury if a finger is caught. SVI proposes that an adult always operates an armoured door for children. Lastly, with higher levels of armouring, ballistic overlaps reduce the door aperture, which may impact the ease of entry into the vehicle.
Having paid a substantial amount to armour your vehicle, the worst that you can do is drive with an open window, as most for what you paid for is then essentially gone. SVI proposes that armoured window operation is kept to the absolute minimum.
Note that only the driver and sometimes passenger windows have opening capability (armouring level dependent) and the opening distance may vary from only 100 mm to all the way down, depending on the model of vehicle that is armoured. In general, the thicker doors of luxury vehicles allow full operation at B4 level without the glass causing interference. Most other vehicles (including bakkies) have limited window operation. This might mean the door would need to be opened to get a ticket at a parking machine, for instance.
As the glass is much heavier than the standard item, the lifting mechanisms are upgraded in most cases. Even so, operation may be slower than with the standard glass.
Fit and finish
Modern vehicles are built to a very high tolerance level when it comes to the fit and finish of the interior parts. Obviously, they weren’t designed for extra armouring material to be hidden behind these panels. SVI is experienced in trimming and refitting the interior panels as close as possible to OEM spec. Even so, it is sometimes impossible to achieve the exact same fit and finish as from the factory. SVI would rather sacrifice slightly on appearance but provide adequate ballistic protection than risk not armouring a tricky area. Best is to evaluate one of our completed vehicles to see first-hand what level of finish is possible.
The last thing any owner wants to hear is that their vehicle was damaged during the armouring process. SVI takes extreme measures to avid damage by wrapping the entire vehicle in protective plastic, covering the alloy wheels and even wrapping components as they are removed form the interior, such as leather seats. Just keep in mind the entire interior is stripped, with more than 300 parts exiting and entering. Even with a 0.3% damage rate, one part may sustain a mark. SVI will always do its utmost not to damage a vehicle in the first place and repair any damage caused best we can.
Effect of a thicker windscreen
The thicker, armoured windscreen is great when it comes to ballistic protection and AGP, our glass supplier in South America, is a world leader in providing clear and distortion-free glass. The fact it is thicker may influence the operation of some safety systems and the reflection of a head-up display may appear duplicated. At night, the thicker windscreen may also result in a double reflection of oncoming lights, although very feint. These are small compromises for protection against bricks or bullets. Remember that your armoured car is modified with one purpose only: to protect your life.