Custom Cars with a Purpose

Most of us may use our cars for basic transportation, but in some cases, customized vehicles are used for a lot more than just daily commutes. Whether they’re selling a hot meal, transporting our valuables or enforcing the law, here’s a look at some of the features that go into purpose-built vehicles.

Food on the Go

The mobile food business is expanding. The New York Times reports that food trucks “are a nearly inescapable part of the culinary landscape in many cities, as common as trucker hats were among their clientele.” But to deliver a hot meal on city streets, food trucks are loaded with equipment that goes beyond what you’ll find in most commercial vehicles.

California-based Armenco Cater Truck Manufacturing Co. builds food trucks that are tailor-made to meet the needs of a restaurant on wheels. The standard food truck listed on the company’s website includes kitchen equipment like a flat-top griddle, deep fryer and refrigerators, but the trucks also feature water tanks and a beefed-up electrical system to keep the kitchen up and running. A number of optional features can make food trucks even more capable, including a full-size oven, microwaves and an air conditioner to keep the kitchen cool.

Vaults on Wheels

Your local bank relies on a great deal of security to keep your money safe, so when money or valuables need to be transported, the armored cars they use are often highly-customized to offer an extra dose of protection.

Companies like the Texas Armoring Corporation build vans and trucks of all sizes. These range from smaller armored cargo vans which could serve duty stocking ATMs or providing on-site check cashing, all the way up to heavy-duty trucks, which the company says “are perfect for inter-bank transfers or large bullion loads.”

Rival companies like Alpine Armoring detail what goes into building their armored cars. The company offers vans and trucks in a range of shapes and sizes. The smallest model is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, which features a number of upgrades, including a passenger area that’s been reinforced with hardened ballistic steel, multi-layered bulletproof glass and additional armoring around important components like the gas tank, battery and vehicle computer.

The fabrication doesn’t stop there, as the company armors the undercarriage with steel plating and reinforces the hinges of each door to support the added weight. Optional features can include gun ports in the doors and windows and a camera system for improved visibility.

Built to Protect and Serve

If you’ve ever seen a police car in hot pursuit, the flashing lights and siren are the first clue that police cruisers are packing a lot more gear than the sedans they’re based on. Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford all make cars for police duty, which offer a range of enhancements to improve durability.

Cars like the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan may bear some resemblance to the Ford Taurus, but the automaker beefs up the chassis with heavy-duty shocks, springs and engine mounts, as well as police-specific brakes for better stopping power. Features like these are also common on other police cruisers, like the Dodge Charger Pursuit and the Chevrolet Impala PPV.

In addition to a heavy-duty suspension, the Ford Police Interceptor, Charger Pursuit and Impala PPV offer upgraded electrical systems to power the additional lights and siren, as well as computers, radios and other electronic equipment that might be on board. The cooling system also goes beyond just the standard radiator. Models like the Impala PPV feature engine oil, power steering and transmission fluid coolers. These systems add an extra level of protection against mechanical breakdowns, and ensure that police cars are capable of operating in extreme conditions.

Whether they’re selling you lunch, transporting your money or protecting your community, a great deal of work goes into making sure that these purpose-built vehicles are up to the task at hand.

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