By on June 18, 2013

 

Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire is one of TTAC’s most loyal readers, and we’d hate to see anything bad happen to him. But sometimes he really brings it upon himself.

When a $2500 Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard turned up on Craigslist, Matt decided to do his own road test of it. And by road test, we mean “sit in it while somebody shoots a bunch of 9mm rounds at the car from close range.

It’s nice to know that even after nearly two decades on the road, the Guard can still save your life in the event of a violent encounter. Having been around a few third-party armored cars, I know that there’s a big difference in quality amongst the various outfitters. Sometimes the armoring components can degrade, while in other cases, they don’t properly think things through. My cousin once rear ended another car in his bulletproof XJ Cherokee; it turned out that the brakes had worn prematurely, because they weren’t upgraded to cope with the extra weight of the armoring. Matt, next time you see one of these on Craigslist, let me know. I think the station wagon lovers of TTAC have it out for me…

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60 Comments on “How Well Does Armoring Work? Matt Farah Finds Out...”


  • avatar
    Hank

    Idiots.

  • avatar
    dima

    What if it was not. “Hey Officer, I was told it was bulletproof, what should we do with his brains? do we put them back into his blown head?”
    Idiots. Potential Darwin award recipients.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Well, congrats, gents.

    You’ve managed to make the generic haji with an AK look intelligent.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      “haji” is a racial slur and has no place on any civilized public forum.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        “Haji” is an honorific. It means you made the Haj.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          Thanks, Detroit, but I plead guilty…. or I would if there were a race called “haji”.

          But carguy was quite perceptive and diligent to ferret-out my contempt for guys who casually beat women and slice-off girl parts. Mea maxima culpa.

          Besides, you gotta admire someone who keeps the PC hairshirt on in the summer.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Is it a v-neck hairshirt?

          • 0 avatar
            carguy

            This is wat Summicron meant:
            http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=haji

            It doesn’t require a PC hair shirt not to use racial slurs – regardless of which racial, ethnic or religious groups you are talking about.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Incidentally, it’s also the term typically used by ignorant low-class US military enlisted men who fight in Muslim countries to refer to the local population, e.g. “I want to keeeell me some _____s.”

            The military servicepersons in my family who have been there do not use the term, and most officers (especially Special Ops-types guys) would never say it either (except maybe when trying to indoctrinate enlisted men).

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            Summicron,

            “PC hairshirt, on in the summer.”

            I like that – it’s very profound.

            Maybe that’s why the eternally-offended are always so upset.

            Being the “enlightened elite” amongst us knuckledraggers must be so frustrating.

            Tolerance is such a long-faced religion…

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Thanks, Alpha

            “Tolerance is such a long-faced religion…”
            My take, too.

            I say what I want here and then get intelligently burned or complimented accordingly. That’s why TTAC rocks.

          • 0 avatar
            VA Terrapin

            OneAlpha and Summicron, I thought most of us are here to read about cars, not have racial insults thrust upon us, especially in articles that have nothing to do with race.

            What does Summicron’s comment about “haji” have to do with this article? Nothing relevant. This racially gratuitious comment is more proof that Summicron is a white supremacist.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @VAT

            Now, now… musn’t profile people.

            Or libel them.

            Must be that damn itchy shirt.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Here we go again. Which writer is going to quit this time?

          • 0 avatar
            VA Terrapin

            The big difference is that, in the previous case, Editor-in-Chief Bertel Schmitt injected a derogatory word himself, acknowledged that it could offend some, and basically told those who would be offended at the word to get over themselves. Here, reader Summicron, not someone with an editor’s official blessing, injected a racially derogatory word.

            To guys who decry “political correctness” like Summicron and OneAlpha, I ask them why they think it’s ok for them to bring up racial divisiveness on their terms when nobody else brought up race in the first place.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    I really don’t understand this. From what I’ve seen of his work, I thought Matt Farah was a reasonably intelligent man, at least intelligent enough to see that the downside if this went wrong so outweigh any possible benefit that it would be quickly deemed unfeasibly idiotic and insane. I don’t think anyone wants to go out as dying of stupidity. And for the guy firing, why wouldn’t it occur to him that he was potentially making a life-altering decision, one that could wind up with his friend dead, his attempting to live with it, most likely while serving time in prison. All for an Internet video.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      I’ll play devil’s advocate. Let’s put it this way – what would the consensus be if this was on Top Gear? (Which it very well could be…) 1) The car was inspected by an expert in armored cars before shooting, and likely heavily reinforced to guarantee safety. 2) The bullets and/or gun in question were chosen as the least powerful possible, while looking correct, and guaranteed to pierce the outer skin of the door. 3) No shots were directed at the window. 4) An additional bullet-proof vest was worn, with another wedged between the door and Farah.

      Not saying that all this necessarily happened, but having worked in TV, that’s how seemingly dumb stunts are regularly pulled off with high degrees of safety.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        It kinda was on Top Gear. They shot the bejeezus out of the car, but they didn’t have someone in the car.

        • 0 avatar
          wumpus

          Which makes you wonder why they didn’t keep at it. My ideas:

          Replacing the door with an armored door is possible (and a reasonable cost for making the video). I’m guessing this is the case.
          It was only designed for 9mm. Retesting it [sans Matt] with a .357 is less of a good idea.

          As shown, you would expect another video, preferably with a crash test dummy in the drivers seat. Work your way up: .357, .223, .30-06, .50 (going through the car from block to trunk might be a test for the .50).

          What really makes me wonder is why I took this as played straight. Utube is just too much a fountain of stupidity to believe.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Wow, Matt, just wow. You need to get back on top of MaryJane to get your head back in adjustment. Do you understand the meaning of ‘resistent,’ you dumbass, Demascus deathwishist?

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Until someone develops force field technology or some sort of energized material, there’s no such thing as “armored.”

    What we call ARMOR is really a just HARDENED material that sacrifices itself in order to work.

    ARMOR would be a material strong enough to bounce incoming rounds off its surface while taking little or no damage, or would regenerate quickly enough that it was EFFECTIVELY immune to attack.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      Is this just tank terminology or does it apply to “knights and shining armor” as well (who called the stuff a “harness” in any case)? Its sad to think that Beowulf’s haburk wasn’t “armor”.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    So Derek, what’s the story with your cousin and the armored Jeep XJ (of all things!)?

    I think I would have at least made a test shot into the back seat first…

    • 0 avatar

      They live somewhere that requires this kind of car, and not because some hoodlum might steal your watch and ring at a stoplight. A relative of mine was kidnapped, the ransom was paid and he did not make it home alive.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Horrible. I won’t live in a place where I have to lock the doors to my house, I cannot even begin to fathom living somewhere that an armored personal car is a necessity.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Whew .

    Idiots , yes .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    bk_moto

    That was unfathomably stupid.

    Car armor is meant for one thing only: to buy you some time to get the hell out of there should your vehicle come under fire. The vehicle will not stand up to incoming fire indefinitely.

    The ways this could have gone badly wrong are many. What if there was some previously unknown manufacturing defect in the armored glass? What if one of the rounds penetrated a seam on armor panels inside the door? What if the armor materials inside the door had degraded enough with the age of the vehicle to allow rounds to penetrate? Law enforcement types have to get their vests replaced every few years because certain types of ballistic materials degrade with time.

    These types of armor modifications are meant to be a last resort defense in a time of life or death emergency which will allow the car to take a few hits so hopefully you can drive (quickly!) out of the life or death situation. You would have to be a complete and total moron to bet your life on it all working perfectly.

    These idiots got lucky this time. But if they keep making decisions this poor, eventually their luck will run out.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “What if the armor materials inside the door had degraded enough with the age of the vehicle to allow rounds to penetrate?”

      Answering this question alone sounds like a good article topic.

  • avatar
    myheadhertz

    Can’t wait for Matt’s test of the Nissan Leaf side impact air bags!

  • avatar
    lon888

    A. This was really dumb. B. Real bad guys bring heavier stuff (AK’s, armor piercing rounds, RPG’s) to a bad situation. The only thing you proved was how gulliable you were.

  • avatar

    Guys, please. They only wanted Youtube views, and they got them.

    This reminds me of an old Russian joke. A monkey (a girl martiset, originally) is washing a banana in the river. A crocodile comes by and asks, “what are you doing”? Monkey answers: “Give me 3 roubles, I’ll tell”. Okay, says crocodile, and gives her 3 roubles. “Well”, says monkey, “I’m washing a banana in the river”. “Are you an idiot?!!” asks the incredulous croc. “Idiot or not, but I have about 25 roubles a day”, answers the monkey.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Next up, Matt will test a series of experimental venom serums. They’re from an indeterminate laboratory, but supposed to be good.

    First up, we’ll let the cobra have a whack at Matt’s calf. Then the death adder gets to chomp on his wrist. Finally, the Russell’s viper is going to sink his fangs into Matt’s butt.

    Over here, we have Matt’s trusty assistant with a syringe filled with this really good stuff that is going to work. We promise. Okay, camera’s rolling? In five, four, three….

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    I’ve been in far more dangerous situations for a pay check.

    You guys are a bunch of wimps. Seriously.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Armored rides a common phenomenon down your way Tresmonos?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Where tresmonos works, the police and the cartels are both terrible, and sometimes the same people. Mexico would be such a great place without the drug violence. People would flock to states like Sonora and Sinaloa.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        FWIW ;

        I have spent much time in Mexico and love it ~

        Scads of old cars & trucks every where you go and mostly warm and friendly people , a relaxed lifestyle .

        I can’t say that right now i suggest it as a vacation paradise but it will be again ere long .

        Haters & losers will always be so , don’t waste too much time correcting them nor trying to get them to see the light .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          I agree with you, without the corruption, violence and pollution, the DF would be one of the best cities in the world.

          I spent a year straight in the DF. That’s enough. It was marvelous for the first four months, but after you’re continually targeted by the police, see more shot up people than you would ever imagine and be a victim of kidnapping, you think the place sucks.

          Yeah, I’m a hater. I also dive in where I live so I’ve seen a lot that most wouldn’t. The DF has turned into a different animal int he past few years. Its far away from ‘turning around.’ In fact, violence is on the uptick.

          Go up to Hermosillo and you will find the most beautiful women you will ever see in your lifetime. Mexico is definitely a diamond in the rough. Its a goddamned tragedy what the USA’s drug demand has done to this country.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            FWIW ;

            I don’t think you’re a ‘ hater ‘ ~ I too have lived in third world sh*tholes so I know the difference between being realistic about the facts and blindly hating because of race , religion or culture .

            I love Mexico and agree , the combination of America’s drug wants and the mindless ‘macho’
            B.S. that drives so much of many countries , makes for a cultural breakdown .

            Hate it , not Mexico nor the wonderful hard working people who make up 99 % of it’s population .

            -Nate

  • avatar
    william442

    Knowing you are aboard a ship with an aluminum superstructure for example!j

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    How do you get an S600 for $2500 that’s running? Even with those hideous tasteless wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      My sentiments exactly.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Move to Los Angeles ~

      We have more cars than Detroit _ever_ did .

      It keeps the prices absurdly low .

      -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      mattfarah

      super easy. And the wheels weren’t tastless, I painted them gold just for the shoot. There are dozens of S600′s on Craigslist LA every day. Finding this one, which I drove 500 incident-free miles for this particular film shoot, took about 5 minutes.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The newer ones seem to do 6-10 or more based on a quick reading of the List of Craig, LA edition. This ’93 W140 however is interesting as it claims 201K on the clock with the M120 V12 of the period.

        http://losangeles.craigslist DOT org/wst/cto/3867662963.html

        • 0 avatar
          mattfarah

          indeed, 6-10 would be the number for a properly well functioning S600. The one I bought had a transmission that was on its way out. If you used more than 1/4 throttle up to about 45 mph it would slip really bad. Fortunately, with that much torque, you never really needed to use more than 1/4 throttle ever. Rebuilding or replacing that transmission would cost, at a minimum, $3,000-4000 depending what was wrong with it, which is why the car was so cheap. Nevertheless, I DD’d it for a month or so before we killed it.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I guess there aren’t enough reformed 1990s drug dealers in the Midwest to supply CL with cheap S600s.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Is this a preview for the next installment of “Jackass”?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Words fail me . . .

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    On a related topic, I highly recommend the short documentary “Bulletproof Salesman” about a German salesman selling armored cars to Iraqis in the direct aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

  • avatar
    360joules

    “6,000,000 Page Views!”

    Not what I want on my tombstone.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Yeehaw. I hope they took some pre-cautions and made it look more dangerous than it was.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    I hope he has a source to get a new driver’s window. I doubt he will find one for the bulletproof model in the local Pick-a-Part.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Hey Matt, why waste this opportunity? Get onto Guinness and apply for a World Record post haste.

    It’ll put you right up there with your fellow countryman Jack Bibby who holds the record for number of live rattlesnakes held in the mouth – ten.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’m not going to deride Matt for this stunt any more that I would have Evil Kneivel for jumping the fountain at Cesar’s Palace.

    Bravo for delivering a spectacle.

  • avatar
    carrya1911

    Speaking as a guy who for at least part of my paycheck training people in the use of firearms:

    ***There’s no way in hell I would allow something like this to go down on my watch.***

    Matt’s a great guy and I enjoy his stuff…but the risk here was too great. If you don’t know what level of armor rating the vehicle has, what warranty/service life the manufacturer puts on the various bits of the vehicle, or how the vehicle was maintained then hopping in it and hoping you don’t get shot is a pretty bad risk. Even if there are trained 18-Deltas standing nearby with a full trauma kit, it’s a bad idea.

    Armored vehicles aren’t really “bullet proof”. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can significantly alter the performance of the “glass” (often made of layers of glass and polycarbonate) which is one reason why the Secret Service buys new limos for the President every ten or so years.

    The protection offered by the door itself depends on the method of manufacture. If the door was armored with steel rated to handle .30 caliber rifle fire (7.62 NATO, 7.62×39, .30-06) then a few 9mm rounds to the door are going to be no big deal. If, however, the manufacturer used some of the “wonder” polymers that were new on the market around the time that Merc was manufactured, (lighter than steel, stronger) then it’s asking for a gunshot wound. Police on the street found out *the hard way* that Zylon and similar products (it went by many names) degraded significantly with exposure to the heat and moisture of the human body. Obviously being crammed inside a car door exposes the armor to more moisture and heat than just being next to skin does.

    Without knowing these important details and lots of others, (like where, exactly the armor plating actually is, because rarely is the armor plating all-encompasing on a typical armored car, especially an older one) it’s very difficult to know what level of protection the thing you’re about to shoot actually offers…which makes it an exceptionally bad idea to be in the passenger compartment when someone is shooting at it. I have some experience shooting at targets inside vehicles and given all the stuff in the car and all the angles involved its difficult to know where a bullet is going to end up.

    This was a bad idea full stop. It’s highly likely that the people involved did not really appreciate the danger involved in what they were doing, or just how bad it sucks to try and treat a gunshot wound. I can tell you from personal experience that having a gunshot wound isn’t much fun…so I would strongly encourage people to avoid it.

    Guns are simple machines, but not everything that involves firearms is simple. Even those who the general public thinks of as “experts” with firearms (like police officers) often don’t really understand all the risks involved in using them. Just look at the Weeks trial in Detroit for a graphic example of how badly a SWAT-trained guy can screw it up.

    So the short version is: Kids, don’t try this. *Ever.* Unless you have a lot of very detailed information and a trained marksman who understands exactly where he can and can’t put a bullet in whatever armored whatsit you’re “testing”, you run an unacceptable risk of ending up with a bullet hole in you. A bullet in your femoral is really going foul up your day.

    If you want to “test” and armored car, do what I do and use a training dummy or a target in the car and have everybody else stand well away from the vehicle to avoid concerns from ricochet. (Another risk that didn’t seem to be accounted for) Then when the range is called cold and the weapons have been cleared bring the camera in for a glamour shot of the bullet holes and shattered ballistic glass.

    To the guy in the video who pulled the trigger: I hope you realize that all responsibility for Matt’s life would have rested entirely upon you from a legal standpoint. Had he been injured or killed you would have been 100% criminally and civilly liable for what took place. When you pull the trigger, you own what happens with every round you let loose. In exigent circumstances (like a gunfight) you are afforded some small leeway for mistakes caused by the extreme circumstances.

    In this? You’d own every bullet and the consequences that went along with it.

    When there’s a gun in your hand you need to think long and hard about what it is you’re doing. I don’t care if you’re new to guns or if you came out of an SF unit…I can point to people from any conceivable description that launched a round unintentionally and hurt somebody. In this case you were launching rounds *intentionally*, seemingly without really understanding the risks of what you were doing.

    You got lucky.

    I strongly suggest you resist the urge to try it again.


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