Sometime last year, Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire bought a bulletproof 1993 Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard on Craigslist for $2,500. In one video, Matt Farah “was sitting in” the car while a buddy shot at the driver’s side front window with a 9mm handgun. Later, when shooting at the car with high-powered rifles, most of the bulletproof material failed after a few shots and it ended up being torched.
Fortunately, armored passenger cars have come a long way since then, with last-generation S-Guard, current 7-Series Security, and A8 High Security are certified to withstand military rifles, hand grenades, bombs, and presumably Matt Farah with an assault rifle. All of these are much more than the twenty-year-old S600 could handle. However, these cars are north of $300,000 and can go even higher with a few options. As a result, just hundreds of armored passenger cars are sold per year.
Demand for bulletproof cars unfortunately didn’t seem like it would subside on January 22, 2003, which is when Lincoln announced the Town Car Ballistic Protection Series. The 9/11 memories were still raw and the US was about to declare war on Iraq. Terrorism was something in the daily consciousness. Such were the circumstances the Lincoln Town Car BPS was announced in.
The Panther platform, developed in the 1970s, was body-on-frame, meaning the chassis could withstand the added weight of armoring. Ford could even get the Town Car to meet federal safety regulations, important for an automaker support. And the benefit to the Town Car was that there were so many of them, especially around Washington DC and New York City, full of diplomats, top government officials, wealthy businessmen, and bachelorette parties attendees, so the BPS version would definitely blend in.
According to the press release, Lincoln believed in could sell about 300 per year, selling to the aforementioned parties across the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Additionally, Lincoln noted the Town Car BPS would come at a lower price (around $150,000) while the competition from Mercedes and BMW would’ve been above $200,000 from the factory.
The press release notes the inclusion of ballistic steel, advanced ceramics, and ballistic transparencies (bulletproof glass) to armor the car. There was Aramid fiber underneath to provide some protection if an explosion occurred underneath the car. There were run-flat inserts for the tires. There isn’t much detail to what exactly was done to the BPS, probably to make sure assassins don’t know where the weak points of the car could be. But according to this piece on the Lincoln by The Truth About Cars, the BPS was able to handle high-powered handguns and readily-available rifles, but probably nothing military-grade.
I also managed to come across a Car and Driver road test of the Town Car. According to them, the base price was $145,790 and could go from 0-60 mph in 12 seconds. 90 mph came in 26.2 seconds. The performance was largely a result of not upgrading the engine, which remained the regular 4.6-liter 16-valve V-8 that made only 239 horsepower, which had to haul more than 6000 pounds, not including the passengers. Additionally, when C&D tested the handling, they found it drove fairly well, considering the engineers benchmarked the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.
Now, back in 2003, the Lincoln’s security was on par with the armored versions of the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-Class. However, with the newest armored versions of the German sedans now able to withstand AK-47 gunfire and hand grenades, the Town Car BPS’s level of security is now outdated. So it's probably not a car to buy used specifically for protecting yourself against bad guys (and girls).
It’s probably better to buy an armored Town Car now (if you can find one for sale, and I couldn't) and do to it what Matt Farah did to his armored Mercedes. At least you’ll still be able to drive the Lincoln home thanks to its robust platform, unlike any modern S-Class.