Paparazzi-proof armoured car
THIS could be the ultimate rapper’s accessory.
A Latvian armoured car builder has built two luxury limousines it claims are paparazzi proof.
The Dartz Prombon Black Alligator and Black Shark have sensors that look for infra red signals sent by cameras when they focus.
Company owner Leonard Yankelovich says if the sensors detect the camera signals they activate a bank of strobe lights on the car, making it impossible for the camera or photographer to focus. “All stars who order our car love it,” he says.
Dartz, which has built a reputation for building the most opulent — and tasteless — vehicles on the road, traces its roots back to a coach builder and armoured vehicle maker in Riga. The company built railway coaches for Tsar Nicholas and armoured cars for Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotksy. One of its first creations was the Diktator.
It created controversy in 2011 when it boasted that its new Prombon armoured car had seats lined with leather made from whale foreskins. After an outcry it later withdrew the material from sale.
Yankelovich made the news recently when he offered to build an armoured vehicle for US President-elect Donald Trump. He posted a rendering of the “Trumpmobile” on Instagram.
The company’s latest creations, named after Russian military helicopters, are based on the Mercedes-Benz GLS63 SUV, which is powered by a 5.5litre bi-turbo V8.
Yankelovich says nonarmoured vehicles are coated in kevlar and carbon fibre, while the armoured variety have a kevlar-coated titanium body.
One customer ordered what Yankelovich claims is the world’s most expensive steering wheel. It has an alligator/ stingray skin steering wheel with 292 black diamonds and two rubies on a white gold steering wheel badge.
Other politically incorrect seat and steering wheel coverings include ostrich, shark and python.
Dartz has shown some of its creations at motor shows — its whale penis-clad Prombon was shown at the Top Marques show in Monaco in 2011. It was priced at a rumoured $1.6 million, although Dartz never confirmed the cost.
“We don’t declare prices public for many reasons. Just declare Alligator five zeros, Shark six,” he says. “It’s like an expensive restaurant — if you can afford, you don’t ask.”
One man who can afford the car is Russian cosmonaut GianMarco Cabbibe. He is one of the first five buyers of the cars, which will have an initial run of 50 units. Other buyers have asked to remain anonymous but Yankelovich says some US rappers and celebrities are among the buyers. Kanye West is rumoured to own two and Sacha Baron Cohen used one in his film None have been sold to Australians, although one has been made in right-hand drive.
The keys for the cars are shipped to customers in a replica of the black box flight recorder from a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
For those who can’t afford the real thing, Dartz is releasing a mobile phone game that it says will “make you feel like an immortal dictator driving these unstoppable machines”.
In another sideline Yankelovich also makes garlic vodka.