Bling bling & bang bang for world’s toughest vehicle

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL February 18, 2013
Marauder, armoured carrier, Paramount

Accessorised by a model in a matching ballgown and holding a live falcon, the world’s toughest vehicle – the 16-tonne Marauder – debuts on the world stage covered in thousands of Swarovski crystals, gold, chrome and bronze camouflage. The style makeover was overseen by South African designer Gavin Rajah who has dressed celebrities like Beyoncé and Cameron Diaz

Prepare to see the drug mafia, gun runners, dictators and oligarchs in every part of the globe riding out stylishly in a Swarovski-studded, golden-camouflage Marauder, the ten-ton military vehicle that’s been prettied up for the seriously rich and seriously dangerous.

For those not entirely au fait with the Marauder, it is an armoured personnel carrier and its South African manufacturer calls it the “world’s toughest vehicle”.

The truth of this was tested in June 2011 by the British motoring programme Top Gear for a lay audience unaware of the Marauders’ charms. As warmongers and peacekeepers would know, the vehicle  can drive through and over obstacles such as solid brick walls and parked cars and can withstand explosions that would destroy  lesser vehicles.

As The Daily Mail reported at the time, the Top Gear roadtest pitted the Marauder against its closest – and arguably only – rival, the discontinued Hummer H3. It crunched over two cars and withstood the impact of seven pounds of plastic explosives directed at its underside.The paper said that “unlike the (civilian spec) Hummer, which was completely destroyed by the explosion, the Marauder was still operational and sustained only minor damage for the most part,” with Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond “easily managing to drive it away despite its dislodged/blown tyre.”

Apparently, the tested version, which was 21 feet long and 9 feet tall, had windows so rigid they could withstand a rocket propelled grenade attack. It also offered enormous functionality with its inbuilt weapons storage facilities.

That civilian version was available to those with £300,000 to spare and a paranoia – or a real threat perception – so deep that only a Marauder would do.

So, to the big news that’s bound to get everyone – from Haitian strongmen to Colombian drug cartels – all atwitter. The Marauder has undergone a couture makeover by South African fashion designer Gavin Rajah, who combines his role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador with working for a fashion house in Cape Town and Paris and dressing celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Beyoncé, Cameron Diaz and Tina Turner. Paramount says Rajah’s styling of the Marauder “entailed the application of thousands of Swarovski crystals and gold, bronze and chrome coloured camouflage.”

The vehicle, which was unveiled over the weekend in front of 60,000 people at the International Defence Exhibition in the United Arab Emirates, is “not available to consumers”, the company says.

Who then? Cartels? Controversial corporations? The mind boggles, especially when the manufacturer says the fashion makeover is in response to regular “calls for a customised personal version of the 16 tonne mine and ballistically protected vehicle.”  As Al Capone (Robert de Niro) might’ve said in a 2013 version of ‘The Untouchables’, you can get further with a kind word and customised Marauder than you can with just a kind word.