The History of Armored Cars

Armored cars are not a new invention. They have long been used by those who are seeking to protect themselves against threats and aggression.

In the Renaissance, several engineers and artists attempted to design an armored car.

One of designs belonged to the well renowned visionary Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci drew his sketch of the armored car sometime around 1485 in Milan. The sketch survives today in the Bibliotheca Reale in Torino, Italy.

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“I will make covered vehicles, safe and unassailable, which will penetrate the enemy and their artillery, and there is no host of armed men so great that they would not break through it. And behind these the infantry will be able to follow, quite uninjured and unimpeded.” – Leonardo da Vinci


The vehicle was designed to support many lights canons, set up in a 360-degree firing age. For propulsion of the considerable weight, he designed a fancy, geared mechanism with cranks that could be pulled by men or draught animals located inside the carriage. A conical cover made of wood was meant to protect the crew.


Though an entrancing vision, Leonardo’s armored car was technically unrealizable and certainly has never been built. The whole device would have been much too heavy to be moved over an uneven battleground. Any draught animal would have been uncontrollable in the narrow and dark interior once the canons started firing, and there’s even a design flaw in the drawing: the arrangement of the gears would have turned the front and rear wheels in different directions.


Armored cars have gone a long way but even today, engineers still adopt the basics of the antiquated ideas of the renaissance. They still get inspiration for car enhancements from classical concepts such as Leonardo di Vinci’s armored vehicle.

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