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Old 04-20-2004, 22:41   #1 (permalink)
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AU:Ford beefs up the fear factor with Lincoln Town Car Ballistic Protection Series

Ford beefs up the fear factor
By Tim Colquhoun
The Sydney Morning Herald



Ford's (almost) bulletproof solution for a terrorised world will arrive in US showrooms this month -- the Lincoln Town Car Ballistic Protection Series (BPS).

In a brochure from its luxury division, Ford pitches the Lincoln (pictured) as "an elegant answer to a hostile world" providing "a barrier against bigger, faster bullets".

The maker claims the 3.4-tonne beast -- which is almost indistinguishable from the standard Town Car from the exterior -- has the "highest standard level of ballistic protection commercially available from any automotive manufacturer in North America". However, a small disclaimer at the bottom of its online advertising notes that "no car is bulletproof".

The car combines ballistic steel panels, military grade ceramics, "ballistic transparencies" on windows, interwoven aramid fibres under the car to "catch" bomb blasts (much like a wicketkeeper's glove) and run-flat tyres. It costs the equivalent of $189,000 -- or about $130,000 more than a standard Town Car.

Ford has initial plans to sell about 300 a year in the US only, but will introduce the BPS soon in the Middle East, Mexico, Europe, Asia and Latin America. The maker reckons BPS models should appeal to corporate executives, politicians, government agencies, high-value individuals and leasing agencies.

Ford Australia spokeswoman Louise Teesdale said there were no plans to bring the armoured Town Car to Australia.

Global sales of armoured cars tallied 20,000 last year and have grown by 20 percent annually for the past few years. But marketing analyst Jack Trout is highly critical of Ford and its new armoured passenger car.

"They obviously are trying to prey on people's insecurities, which are rampant these days because of the terrorism, and that's their game," he told Reuters.
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