Crapwagon Outtake: Level 3 Lexus

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
crapwagon outtake level 3 lexus

Normally I would have skipped right over a Lexus ES300 with two-tone paint. This time, I clicked on it, largely because the prospect of one with enough armor to stop a 7.62 round isn’t something you regularly encounter.

It turns out that the Lexus is, in fact located in Bogota, Colombia, which adds an element of shadiness to the whole encounter. In the context of Latin America though, the armored Lexus isn’t such an anomaly. On our shores, someone might opt for an armored S-Class or Escalade if they are a high profile individual in need of a secure vehicle.

In Latin America, such a vehicle would obviously stand out to the point where the owner would be even more of a target, so fitting armor to more discreet vehicles is the norm. Bulletproof VW Jettas are said to be popular with upper-class customers in Mexico. I’ve personally seen vehicles like the Skoda Octavia, Jeep Cherokee and Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with doors as heavy as bank vaults and remote start systems (just in case anyone tries to assassinate you via car bomb).

In this part of the world, those who are really rich and concerned with their safety tend to take helicopters. Maybe that’s what the owner is moving on to after he sells the Lexus. Any deal I made would have to include the original Colombian plates. And a thorough cleaning to make sure nothing comes across the border when I’m trying to import it.

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4 of 26 comments
  • Talkstoanimals Talkstoanimals on Jul 16, 2013

    Humor about drug dealing aside, it's not necessarily indicative of "shadiness" for a Bogota resident to have an armored car. I have family in Bogota, all of whom are solidly middle class professionals with no connection to the drug trade. However, they live in a gated community patrolled by gun toting guards and some have armored cars simply because there was a time when anyone who even APPEARED to have money was a potential target of kidnapping or other violence perpetrated by the ELN or FARC.

  • Jacob_coulter Jacob_coulter on Jul 16, 2013

    That generation ES really is a great car, I had zero reason to sell it when I did, I just wanted something different. That's when Lexus still built what their customers actually wanted: a smooth and comfortable Japanese Buick that ran forever. BTW, interesting that most armored cars are in South America where private gun ownership in most countries is almost always illegal. Isn't it funny that in a country like the US where we have such high gun ownership, armored passenger cars are more of a novelty than anything.

  • Markholli Markholli on Jul 17, 2013

    I used to have an ES that was identical to this, except know...the armoring. I feel like it would be more trouble that its worth to get that thick glass to seat correctly with those frameless doors.

  • Healthy skeptic Healthy skeptic on Jul 17, 2013

    I have a '97 ES300. 160k miles. Bought used at 144k miles about 4 years ago. I've had to put about 3K into it during that time, but runs like the day it was born. Very nice freeway cruiser, and the styling still looks pretty good 16 years later. I still see quite a lot of them on the road in my neck of the woods too.