Does the Ford Super Duty not look enough like a superhero for you?
California boutique automaker US Specialty Vehicles (USSV) is now selling a military-look truck called the Rhino GX. The much-more-than-full-size SUV is built on a Ford F-450 chassis and features an up-armored style that might cause an MRAP to give it the right of way.
It’s not actually bulletproof or bombproof, but has a steel and composite body that company founder Tim Tang says has millions of dollars of engineering work behind it. The seven-and-a-half-foot tall, eight-foot wide truck rides on 38-inch tires and a Liquid Spring CLASS hydraulic rear suspension, with or without computer controlled active adjustments to further enhance its comfort and handling.
Despite its utilitarian style, the Rhino GX was designed with luxury in mind, and its leather-upholstered and wood-trimmed interior can be outfitted pretty much any way a customer desires. Two and three-row seating layouts are available, including one that is essentially a rolling screening room with rear-facing second row recliners and large flat-screen TV.
The vehicle was developed with export to China in mind, and is sold there under the G. Patton name with the full approval of the legendary four-star general’s estate for upwards of $500,000. USSV reports that it’s built over 80 so far, and prices start at $165,000 in the U.S. for a Rhino GX powered by Ford’s 6.8-liter gasoline V10 engine, but Tang says a diesel version is possible if demand warrants.
Although the Rhino GX is on sale now, the company is planning a more formal debut at the SEMA show in Las Vegas this fall, where it will also be introducing its second, and perhaps more intriguing model with its own brand of military roots.
If the Rhino JX looks familiar, it should. The two-door rock crawler was inspired by the Hummer HX, a concept for a Jeep Wrangler-fighter that was unveiled in 2008, but wasn’t brought to fruition before the brand was shut down.
Tang tapped former Ford and Bentley designer David Hilton to reimagine the HX with all-new bodywork that nevertheless maintains the flavor of the original, and hired what he says is a well-known, but confidential European firm to finalize it for production.
Ironically, the Rhino JX uses a mechanically stock Jeep Wrangler Unlimited platform and drivetrain, but customization options will be offered. USSV is aiming for a starting price of under $70,000 and will begin taking orders in September.
Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.