Bullet Proof? 1981 GMC Armored Van

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This armored van is one of those vehicles that poses the question, “What would you do with it if you bought it”? The seller tells us this armored truck was built by International Harvester in 1981 and research indicates that IH did build some of these things. But the front clip and badging say GMC, so we’d be curious as to how the vehicle is identified on the title. Did they collaborate in this market segment?

The identification on this dark green beast indicates it was last in the employ of Borderline Firearms. The name and phone number jive with a firearms dealer in Tampa, Florida, but would you need an armored van to transport firearms (not a gun guy here, so perhaps you do)? Maybe this truck was first built to transport money and found a second life moving firearms. Bet this thing weighs a ton (or several tons)!

We’re told the vehicle could appeal to collectors of military vehicles. We’re told it’s been well-maintained and in great shape, though its perch on a flatbed suggests that may be optimistic. It’s powered by an 8.8-liter diesel motor (Detroit Diesel?) paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. The seller says it runs and drives though there is a brake fluid leak that will need attention. The brakes themselves have already been gone through and the tires have usable life left.

This truck has a reported 30,000 miles on the odometer which is low for vehicles of this nature. The money transport theory holds water as there are gun ports in several places in the vehicle. If you’ve been looking for one of these for whatever reason, this one can be found in Mountain View, Arkansas, and is available here on eBay where the current bid is $3,050 (there is no reserve).

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bud Lee

    If ever a vehicle needed a 4WD system put under it, it’s this.

    Like 7
    • Stan

      Urban Defender Bud 🌁 🌉

      Like 8
  2. Tbone

    If I had this, they would NEVER catch me!

    Like 5
  3. Jeff

    This is a future pope vehicle 🚗

    Like 2
  4. Kenneth Carney

    One thing’s for sure, you wouldn’t be
    hurt if you were shot at by a road rager. And you could use the gun ports to shoot back if you wanted to.
    How sinister would this thing be painted an ominous shade of black.
    Next, imagine it following you down
    the freeway. Or maybe police departments could use these things to transport the most violent criminals to prison to serve their
    sentances or to carry key witnesses
    safely to and from a courthouse. Or,
    Air would make one hell of a Mafia staff car!

    Like 6
  5. Driveinstile DriveinstileMember

    Its a little hard to tell in the engine photo, but that may be a Detroit 8.2 liter diesel. Unfortunately, they weren’t the most robust engines out there, they didnt have a great reputation, many didnt last 100000 miles. Also, it may be hard to get parts for them to repair them as well. Maybe someone else can have a better idea of whats under the hood.

    Like 3

      The seller has a photo of a sticker that says it is a Detroit Diesel engine.

      Like 5
    • Lincoln BMember

      You are correct it is an early 8.2 Detroit Diesel, approximately 210 HP, early engines had head gasket failures and some but not all had the block drilled to accept larger head bolts by Detroit and could be then torqued to a higher value and it seemed to solve the problem. Feel free to correct me but this is among DD’s first 4 stroke diesels.

      Like 3
      • geomechs geomechsMember

        Most definitely a DDA 4-stroke, the only 4-stroke that it actually developed while under the umbrella of General Motors. Detroit Diesel went on to create the Series 60 and a 4 cylinder version which I believe was the Series 50. I think that DDA is still trying to get the bad taste out of its mouth with the 8.2 but the Series 60 was a good performer. I understand that the 60 was a Co-op effort with John Deere. Deere called theirs the 600.

        Like 5
      • Lincoln BMember

        Geomechs as usual you are correct. About the series 60 and 50 DDA and these engines gave me respect for DD that I did not have, also they had basically lost the heavy truck market and 60 put them right back in the game. The engine was a big deal for John Deere also because they were recovering from what was a very disappointing failure of their new V8 for their biggest tractors.

        Like 3
      • geomechs geomechsMember

        That 700 Series engine from Deere was somewhat dismal. Strangely enough, Deere tested it in several trucks where it was well received. It also did well in the industrial side. It just couldn’t hold together in a tractor where it was running full load constantly….

        Like 2
  6. nlpnt

    I’m guessing this was first built on an IH chassis, then rebuilt on a GMC one from some time in the mid to late ’80s (the GM flat-face cowl chassis used the ’67-72 look to at least 1973 – for these and for school buses.

    Like 2
  7. sparkster

    LS conversion ? Perhaps a supercharged LS. Duramax diesel may be the best option

    Like 4
  8. DavidH

    A great candidate for a Madmax Ratrod.

    Like 5
  9. JDC

    This is the ONLY type vehicle that should ever be driving around with loaded guns inside.

    Like 6
  10. HoA HoAMember

    Whilst researching the builder of the truck, the 1981 Brinks robbery came up with this exact truck. Robbers stole 1.6 million dollars from a Brinks truck in NY, considered a large sum at the time, in a poorly executed scheme, that did not end well.
    Apparently, the GMC was a popular choice, not sure where the IH part comes in, there were several companies that built armored vehicles. I think at one time, mostly as kids, we’ve all thought of robbing an armored vehicle, but never carried it out. Most probably had pennies anyway. On images, several came up for sale, in much better condition, however, a similar pattern emerges, people in the private sector have no use for an armored car, and DD powered no chance of a clean getaway.
    BTW, one of my favorite Andy Griffith episodes, was when the bogus gold shipment came through Mayberry, an IH I believe.

    Like 14
    • geomechs geomechsMember

      There was a movie back in the 60s, “They Came to Rob Las Vegas.” It was about a cleverly hatched plot to rob one of those sophisticated amored cars that ran between Vegas and LA. Kind of a low-budget but it was still entertaining. I can’t say that I ever saw one of those barges but I sure saw a lot of these over the years…

      Like 1
  11. Ed from Cleveland

    but would you need an armored van to transport firearms (not a gun guy here, so perhaps you do)?

    Dealers who participate in Gun shows, Antique Shows and Coin shows risk being followed home when the show closes, and thieves have been known to follow them and wait for them to either stop to eat or if an overnight stay is required at a hotel of motel, they will then break into the vehicle and empty it or steal the vehicle and empty it at another location.

    Like 1
  12. Steve

    It might make for a fun food truck.

    Like 1
    • chrlsful

      “Gold’s Bagels”?

      Like 0
  13. Frank BarrettMember

    If you’re a gun dealer transporting valuable guns to and from shows, this would be ideal for you–at least if the show was local and you didn’t have to cover 500 miles of interstate.

    Like 3
  14. Ken

    I had an armored ’90 Jeep Wagoneer LTD from 2012-2017. The Wagoneer LTD was a glorified Cherokee with all the bells and whistles available at the time, plus the extras for the armored part. Could not tell that it was armored, looked like every Cherokee on the block. Why did I get it? Just because. People would ask me if I was afraid of getting shot at, to which I replied “Well, not anymore.”

    Like 7
  15. Franco

    This trucks belongs in the scrape yard,nice and heavy,should bring some decent change. I can smell the tires burning and the gear oil boiling and blowing in the win. Wonder why the gun guys got rid of it?

    Like 1
  16. Michael Tischler

    Saw many these while working as a armed guard for the Federal Reserve Bank,one time a truck came straight from the airport carrying new cash,when the doors opened a guard was inside with 40 million.

    Like 4
  17. PairsNPaint

    I’d like to see what Gas Monkey could do with it.

    Like 2
    • Lance

      …or Trunk Monkey. :)

      Like 1
    • Bill bowman

      I would like to see what Ian roussell could do with it.

      Like 3
      • PairsNPaint

        Viktor would want to put a bubble top on it.

        Like 3
  18. Lance

    Many years a friend of mine who was a deputy sheriff came home with one that had been a Brinks truck. They signed it over to law enforcement to use it but if they wanted to get rid of it it had to go back to Brinks for destruction. This monster weighed about 5 tons and the biggest problem was that the steering was shot. The extra weight of the truck wore the standard steering box out. Truck was returned to Brinks.

    Like 3
  19. Ted Mathis

    When the SHTF and the Zombie Apocalypse happens; this is the vehicle you want to bug out in.

    Like 4
  20. UDT FROG

    WOW, this would be perfect on my just bought ranch , I own just about enough arms and ammo to fill this delightful beauty.

    Like 2
  21. Frank Sumatra

    Was probably sitting in front of the gun shop for advertising. Looks as if that would be all it would be useful for.

    Like 5
    • Ablediver

      Frank Sumatra, you’re pretty much spot on. These were really heavy and slow. Really heavy. Most likely not for transport of firearms. Most likely parked in front of a dealer. You definitely don’t want to bring that type of attention to yourself going down the road. Shocker–most firearms are delivered to dealers by UPS and FedEx.

      Like 2
  22. geomechs geomechsMember

    Oh, the venerable 8.2. Actually it wasn’t a bad engine but it had its share of bad times. A lot of camshaft troubles, causing mosquito-killer exhaust smoke. They could blot out a city block. You needed a slug of special tools because you had to set the injector timing in accordance with the cam lobe’s base circle. We looked after a fleet of three ton trucks for a welding distribution company. They were all fairly good performers and well maintained. A local farmer decided to get one and I think he saw the decal on top of the batteries, reading: “Maintenance Free.” 40K miles and he was doing a smoke show every morning. Replaced the camshaft and followers and everything was fine for another 25K miles and it started to smoke again. We started to call it ‘Job Security…’

    Like 3
  23. PwogMember

    My guess is it was just used as parking lot marketing for the gun store. A billboard so to speak- fairly common in Florida to use old commercial vehicles to get your attention. Might get you out of conventional sign permit hassles.

    Like 0
  24. NicMember

    It may be that the car was bullet proof at some point, but if someone lays under it, they can “shoot” the driver with a water gun. Rust is blooming everywhere … with the low mileage !?
    The brakes don’t seem to be a line failure, on a photo of the rear axle you can see the brake fluid running down the tire from the right brake drum, so it’s unlikely that the brakes were overhauled.

    Like 0

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