SAN ANTONIO, Texas — A 10-minute drive away from the Alamo, small teams on the factory floor of Texas Armoring Corporation work deliberately, turning everyday civilian vehicles into armored workhorses for the world’s governments and business executives. The company is growing rapidly, and one reason is Mexico’s drug war.
An adjacent building under construction will double available manufacturing space. TAC’s workforce grew 30 percent last year to about 40 employees. That’s enough to produce around 80 cars per year. Reality television networks have been calling, attracted to the company’s tattooed workers, youngish executives and at-risk clientele.
Displayed inside the building’s lobby are spiked road tacks that can be dropped out of rear compartments, armor components dented by rounds fired from AK-47 assault rifles, and a black SUV driver’s side door with 2-inch thick bulletproof glass chewed up by ballistic impacts. Next, is a tire with a section cut out of it, showing hardened run-flat inserts underneath the rubber.
The armoring process is fairly straight-forward. A vehicle is sawed down to its frame with cutting torches. The frame is then wrapped in a combination of Kevlar, steel and polyethylene composite plates (industry term: “Spectra Shield”) before the original fabrics and interior panels are restored. Eventually, at a price of around $80,000 or more — not including cost of the vehicle, and without options like smoke shields and digital video recorder systems — a client should be protected from rounds sized up to 7.62 millimeters.