It’s possible that you may have never heard of Dartz, and I can promise you that your life hasn’t been nearly funny enough if you haven’t. The Latvian company specializing in luxury armored SUVs first grabbed international headlines when they offered, as an option for buyers of their Prombron model, interior leather made from whale foreskin. No vehicles were actually built with the material, but its presence on the company’s option list outraged quite a few people. More recently, Dartz built the gold SUVs seen in the early scenes of the movie The Dictator, and the Dartz website boasts that they build vehicles for actual dictators as well. Their vehicles come with diamond-encrusted gauges, ruby-studded grilles, and lots of gold trim. They’ll put a hot tub in the back, should you request it, and the only limit to customization options is your bank account. The bounds of good taste are certainly not an obstacle.
The company is run by a man named Leonard Yankelovich, or Leo, as he likes to be called. Leo writes all of the Dartz press releases himself and in English, despite not having the greatest command of the language. But what he lacks in command of English he makes up for in enthusiasm, and his press releases are full of bold and semi-comprehensible statement about how great Dartz vehicles are. His latest project is the new iTempter, a heavily modified Mercedes-Benz G-Class which is the first in a new line of tuning projects which Dartz will sell under the name Gagarin, named for the Russian cosmonaut. As Leo put it in his email to me about the vehicle “Pay attention to NEW BRAND :-) GAGARIN? Poehali!!!” The last word, Poehali, is Russian for “let’s go”, a quote attributed to Yuri Gagarin, but Leo felt in no way obligated to explain this to me.
The exterior of the vehicle gets a few cosmetic changes, including a new grille and a set of Dartz’s 24-inch bullet wheels in gold (yes, actual gold). The interior has been modified a bit more, and is equipped with several iPads, hence Dartz’s hijacking of the Apple naming scheme. The leather is not made from whale genitals, but there is trim made from Snakewood, a rare and brittle wood from the Amazon rainforest. Clearly, political correctness is not Dartz’s forte.
Dartz will produce 12 of these gold editions, then 24 green editions and 24 orange editions, all with prices likely to be in the “if you have to ask” range. These will be followed by a new model, the Prombron White Snake, or as Leo put it “this is sizzle before we will release DARTZ PROMBRON’ WHiTE.SNAKE”. This will be a much more elaborate vehicle, and we’ll be doing a more in-depth piece when it debuts. Stay tuned, because you won’t want to miss it.