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High in the Saddle

Michal Ish Shalom

A video screen, refrigerator, a high-quality sound system, enough armor to fend off an explosive attack, and…a humidity box to keep cigars moist. While these conveniences await Bibi Netanyahu when he steps into his newly ordered Audi A8 Security, he'll be in good company. Today, many world leaders drive around in vehicles that are more like tanks on wheels than cars. A look at the preferences — and the patriotism — of some heads of state and their automobiles of choice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When you get up in the morning and sigh at the thought of having to crowd onto a packed bus or subway to get to your destination, you can relax by doing a guided imagery exercise — imagine yourself traveling in Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's newly ordered Audi A8 Security, to arrive within the next few weeks. The special-order Audi A8 Security, with a price tag of $1 million after taxes, has been custom-designed for maximum safety.

The car's unique security package was crafted in cooperation with the Shin Bet, who even blew up one car during experiments to test the vehicle's endurance in the face of various threats, including grenade attacks and roadside bombs. The car's exact defense capabilities are being kept under wraps, but among other things they include a bullet and grenade-proof armored cabin, bullet-proof windows and tires - which continue to roll even if the air has been blown out, a device that blows off the doors if they have become jammed by shockwaves, an independent oxygen supply system, and an automatic fire-extinguishing system.

And of course, the car has all the regular trappings of a luxury vehicle. Like all other Audi A8s, it has video screens, a refrigerator, comfortable leather seats, and a state of the art sound system, a fridge for cold drinks, plus an internal communications system, and a humidifier to keep cigars moist.

Israel has procured Audi A8 Security cars since 2007 for its security convoy, but this is the first customized version. The prime minister's office is quick to note, however, that Netanyahu had nothing to do with the decision. It was purely a professional security investment.


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