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The Globe and Mail

Made in Canada: Bulletproof automotive overhauls

Consumer vehicles being retrofitted with armour plating and bullet proof glass at Inkas in Toronto on Jan. 28, 2011.


Your basic Toyota Camry is a drab piece of urban camouflage. It looks like a car, nothing more: a conveyance built for fetching groceries rather than evading gunfire.

From the outside, the Camry built by Inkas Armored Vehicle Manufacturing in Toronto hits all the same sleepy notes. The only visible difference is the price tag. At $102,000, it might be the most boring six-figure car in the world. But then there's the invisible: blast protection in the floor, AK-47-proof glass, fire suppression system, run-flat tires. All this and Inkas engineers found room to keep the family sedan's generous cup-holders, so you can outrun an armed insurrection without spilling your latte. "It's popular—we sell a few hundred every year," says Inkas international sales manager Philip Daskal of the armoured Camry. "The whole idea is it blends into traffic. If someone is stuck in traffic in a Mercedes or Lexus, they draw more attention than a Toyota Camry."

Inkas Armored was the brainchild of a former Russian police officer, David Khazanski, who defected to Canada in 1990 and wound up toiling in a bakery. He decided to parlay his lawman experience into launching an armoured courier service. The timing was perfect: The business grew with the rapid proliferation of ATMs. By 1996, using engineering talent that was fleeing the crumbling Eastern bloc, he and his fledgling company began manufacturing armoured vehicles. Today, Inkas Armored thrives wherever civil society is failing, earning contracts in Nigeria, Colombia and other global hot spots. The company's 150 employees crank out 55 vehicles a month, ranging from the lowly Camry on up to a new 16-passenger troop carrier, the Huron.

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