Built for comfort it is not. Sleekly elegant? Negative. Fuel-efficient? Forget about it.
But when members of the York Regional Police (YRP) swat squad climb into their new armoured truck and rumble noisily to the scene of a gun call or a risky arrest, what they will have is a versatile, rolling fortress.
The Thunder 1, as it was named by its Quebec manufacturer, Cambli International of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, was custom-designed for YRP, which until December did not have such a vehicle at all - the only police service in the Greater Toronto Area without one.
And with a price tag of $340,000, it was not inexpensive. But it was $10,000 cheaper than the more widely deployed BearCat armoured vehicles, made by Massachusetts-based Lenco Industries Inc., popular with U.S. police, and it has a larger capacity, with 10 seats rather than eight. Staff Sergeant Gregory Harper, who commands York's 24-officer Emergency Response Unit, reckons it was a bargain.
The Thunder 1 is technically unique. Police in Vancouver have a similar vehicle, but because much of York Region is rural, calling for an off-road capability, the tires on this truck are slightly bigger, providing more clearance. The Vancouver truck also has dual rear axles, and it is black rather than grey.
If the boxy shape looks familiarly old-fashioned, that's because Cambli's chief line of production involves Brinks trucks, which have a basic design that has hardly altered in decades.
The truck was a parting gift from former York police chief Armand La Barge, who retired the same month the long-sought-after Thunder 1 arrived. Its acquisition gathered pace two years ago, when YRP had to call in the Toronto police tactical squad to handle a distraught man threatening to detonate a car bomb on Highway 400.
Inside the Thunder 1, it's a surprisingly smooth ride.
It's been deployed just a handful of times so far, most recently on Friday when it was dispatched to aid in the arrest in Richmond Hill of a man wanted for armed robbery.
"Its sole purpose is the protection of our officers and being able to move them into a dangerous environment," Staff Sergeant Harper said. "It was a worthwhile investment. Very worthwhile."
WHAT YOU GET
So what do you get for $340,000 when you buy a Thunder 1? Primarily a vehicle that affords state-of-the-art security for the police inside it.
The chassis and power train are built by International Truck and Engine Corp., and resemble the design of the big dump trucks the company makes: A Maxx Force DT, 285 HP Turbo engine; an Allison 3500 EVS transmission; and a 163-inch wheel base. It weighs more than 15 tonnes, and it has a top speed of about 130 km/h.
Its payload is a little over three tonnes, and its fuel tank holds 50 U.S. gallons.
The console is much the same as a commercial truck. But there the similarities cease. As with some small military planes, the 10 seats comprise two at the front, two flip-up seats facing forward, and three on each side in the truck's rear facing each other.
The truck carries no weapons, but it has 12 gun ports for the heavily armed police inside who do - five on each side and two at the rear.
The precise thickness of the reinforced steel and steel glass that protect occupants against any ballistic threat is not something police are anxious to disclose. But thick it is.