Home Cars 12 Dictators Obsessed With Luxury Cars

12 Dictators Obsessed With Luxury Cars

Vukasin Herbez October 6, 2017

A dictator is an autocratic leader who rules the country with an iron fist and disregards human rights, democracy or public opinion. He gets his control from pure force, terror and the oppression of everybody who dares to think or act differently. During the 20th century, the world has thoroughly changed.

New political concepts, such as communism and the fall of colonialism, as well as the founding of new countries and two world wars, have produced many local political and military leaders who forced their way to power and became dictators. On nearly every continent, there were at least a few leaders who declared themselves lifelong presidents and de facto, were absolute leaders of their countries.

As the defining invention of the 20th century, cars have always been a big part of a dictator’s protocol. It was important to show power and authority through the careful choice of automobiles in those motorcades. Besides that, a lot of dictators were true car enthusiasts; some of them were so influential that they helped start car companies. Since they had unlimited funds to spend on their passion, their private garages were the stuff of dreams. Even today, decades after angry mobs overthrew them from power, legends and myths continue to circle the automotive world.

Today, you are going to learn more about the rides of some of the world’s most famous dictators. Not all of them were bloodthirsty megalomaniacs who lived lavish lives on behalf of their tax-paying citizens, although most of them were. But all of them had absolute power and had a serious car addiction, which made them famous in the car world.

1. Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, Haiti

The story about “Baby Doc” is a common one. Jean-Claude was the son of “Papa Doc,” the Haitian dictator who died in 1971. So, his 19-year-old son was promoted to president of this tropical island. The teenage president didn’t have any formal knowledge about ruling the country or previous experience.

However, he stayed in office until 1986 when an angry mob of poor Haitian people overthrew his government, forcing him to flee to Paris. During his time as president of Haiti, “Baby Doc” allegedly stole over 500 million dollars from government funding and led a notoriously lavish lifestyle.

Since he was the youngest president in the world, Jean-Claude was fond of sports cars, especially Ferraris with the 356 GT 2+2 being his model of choice. Interestingly, this was the first car he bought, the day after he became the president in 1971.

2. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, Dominican Republic

The role model of all Caribbean dictators was the notorious Rafael Trujillo. He ruled the Dominican Republic from the early 1930’s until his death in 1961. Trujillo was infamous for being a ruthless and cruel leader. He killed anybody who stood in his way while allowing his family and closest friends to run all government sectors and companies as their own.

It is estimated that during his rule, over 40,000 people died under mysterious circumstances by his paramilitary gang “Le 42.” They roamed the streets in the capital of Santo Domingo in red Packards, the locals called the “Carro de la Muerte” or car of death. Trujillo was one of the first fans of Enzo Ferrari. He even raced a few of his cars in local events. However, the car that made him famous was his custom-built, bespoke Pegaso Z-102 Cupula.

This was one of the most advanced sports cars of the period with an unbelievable design by Touring. Trujillo ordered this one-off and paid an insane price for it just to show his power and taste in automobiles. Called “El Dominicano” the car survived its owner and it is currently in a museum in the Netherlands. However, Trujillo met his end in 1961, when someone ambushed his Chevrolet Bel Air, riddling it with bullets.

3. Saddam Hussein and Sons, Iraq

One of the last dictators with bloody hands and a long history of an autocratic regime was Saddam Hussein. He was executed in 2006. Saddam bought numerous luxury cars scattered all over Iraq, even though his ruling of the oil-rich Iraq was full of bad decisions. He also dealt with an exhausting Iraq-Iran war, the occupation of Kuwait and the American retaliation, and the invasion of Allied forces in 2003. Personally, he was a fan of upscale sedans, and Mercedes and Rolls-Royce were his favorite brands.

Each of his villas had several luxury limos in various garages. He used a few personal doubles to fool the enemies, so they also drove several luxury cars to keep the appearance of the real Saddam. But, as much as this behavior was crazy, his sons topped him in a car-buying frenzy. His two sons were sports car lovers and they often raced through the streets of Baghdad. Since Iraq was under UN sanctions, Saddam used secret diplomatic channels to provide the latest Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches for his boys.

At the time of the Allied invasion of Iraq, his sons had so many expensive sports cars, they are still discovering their vehicles today, hidden around the country.

4. Adolf Hitler, Germany

As one of the world’s most terrifying dictators, Hitler’s legacy is well-known. Responsible for the death of over 60 million people, he changed the world as we know it. Most people believe Hitler was the epitome of evil in human form. This list will concentrate on his love of cars. Hitler was a car guy, even though he didn’t have a driver’s license and was chauffeured everywhere.

Hitler knew that the car was an important product, so he spent time and effort helping two companies. First, Mercedes Benz produced numerous vehicles for his protocol and personal use. Most notably are the big Mercedes 770 or interesting six-wheeler Mercedes G4. Hitler even helped the Mercedes racing team win Grand Prix races just before the war. He personally secured the funds for racing purposes.

Ever since he took office in 1933, Mercedes cars were his vehicle of choice. The other car company was Volkswagen, which started just before the war as a state-owned company for producing cars. The first project was the Type 1, later known as the Beetle. Hitler was fond of this project and personally supervised the building of the factory and testing the prototypes.

The chief engineer, Ferdinand Porsche was Hitler`s personal friend and if it wasn’t for the end of the war and all the events, there wouldn’t be a Porsche car company. They established it in 1948 in Austria. So, Hitler’s automotive legacy is enormous and alive today, which is kind of scary when you think about it.

5. Benito Mussolini, Italy

Hitler’s friend and fellow fascist leader, Benito Mussolini was a car guy, too. During his reign of power, he invested a lot of government funds into secret “loans” to racing teams and his favorite brands. For example, The Duce liked Alfa Romeos and wanted to see them race, so he founded racing enterprises, driver’s salaries and other expenses.

For his personal use, he commissioned the beautiful Lancia Astura, Italy’s most expensive car at that time. Mussolini always bought the latest Alfa Romeo, red in color, for his mistresses. In fact, that Alfa Romeo was the reason the partisans caught and killed him in 1945. When Allied forces invaded Italy and started liberating it from fascist forces, Benito Mussolini tried to cross the Swiss border. He was dressed as a common soldier riding in a truck, but his favorite mistress, Clara Petacci followed him in her red Alfa Romeo 6C.

Soldiers stopped the convoy and recognized the red Alfa. They found Mussolini hiding as an ordinary soldier. The next day, they shot both him and his mistress, but that Alfa Romeo 6C is still around today.

6. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran

The Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, was not a bloodthirsty mass murderer like the other dictators on this list. However, people remember him as a ruthless leader who spent his government’s money on a lavish lifestyle and thousands of expensive cars. Yes, you read that correctly – Reza Pahlavi owned several thousand cars. The National Car Museum in Tehran, Iran displays his cars. There is even enough space on their premises to keep all of his cars.

Even today, almost 40 years after they forced him to flee Iran, people are finding his cars around the country. The Shah of Iran was known for his love of sports cars. So, despite being chauffeured in luxury limousines during the official visits, he was in his element behind the wheel of thoroughbred sports or racing cars. During the 50’s and 60’s, he was a favorite customer of Maserati, Lamborghini and Mercedes.

In addition, he would pay the expenses of research, development and prototype production, just to get a car suited for him. As a talented driver with knowledge in engineering, he discussed the technology with the world`s best constructors and drivers. They even named a Maserati after him, which was the 5000 GT Shah of Persia. There are reports of his secret service closing down some of Teheran’s boulevards, so the Shah could reach top speeds in his new Lamborghini.

His love of cars was famous. The people of Iran seemed to approve of it, since the Shah led the transition of this traditionalist county to modern society. Unfortunately, the Islamic revolution in 1979 forced him to flee, so his vast car collection spread across Iran. They sold some cars overseas or destroyed them, as well.

7. Idi Amin, Uganda

In office from 1971 to 1979, Idi Amin was the prototype of a crazy African dictator. His erratic behavior, eccentric and lavish lifestyle, controversies and ruthless killings of internal political enemies became legendary. The most famous myth about him was that he ate his political opponents after he killed them.

Foreign leaders found it hard to communicate with him during his time in power. Soon, they left Uganda alone on the international scene. Despite the raging poverty, extremely low living standards and shortages of food, Idi Amin lived in luxury. He owned a Mercedes 600, a favorite dictator car in those days.

However, his biggest passion was his Citroen SM, which he drove on a daily basis. This was a strange choice for a cannibal dictator in a country without proper roads, but Idi Amin owned not one SM, but seven models of the same car.

8. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin, Soviet Union

As a leader of the October Revolution and a Marxist revolutionary, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin became the ruler of the vast Soviet Union, which spread from Europe to the Pacific Ocean. He initiated transforming Tsarist Russia into the Soviet Union, the first communist country in the world. As the leader of proletariat forces, workers and peasants, Lenin was not into a luxury lifestyle, but he wasn’t immune to the charm of Rolls-Royce.

Immediately after he came to power, he ordered a brand new, specially-built Rolls Royce Silver Ghost from the factory in England. The car came with one set of regular wheels and a set of half-track caterpillars for winter driving. Lenin, as a true Bolshevik who despised the capitalist way of thinking, owned eight more Rolls Royce cars.

In fact, he loved them so much, he built heated garages in his residence. In the time when people in the Soviet Union died of cold, their leader kept his precious cars warm. At least one of those cars is known to exist today.

9. Juan Perón, Argentina

The controversial Argentinian dictator, Juan Peron is a politician whose name still raises debate even 43 years after his death. During his political activity in Argentina, Peron went from being extremely popular to being forced to flee just several years after. He managed to introduce new political opinions in the traditional system and influence other leaders in South America.

However, the accusations of corruption, political killings and embezzlement cost him his presidency. During his time in office, Juan Peron spent huge amounts of money on cars, buying Porsches for driving schools. The success of Juan Manuel Fangio, a famous racing driver of the era, had an influence on him.

Personally, he was a fan of Ferraris and was one of the first celebrity owners of Maranello-made cars. His favorite Ferrari was the 1952 Inter Ghia Coupe with a V12 engine and 170 HP. The car was yellow and black and the rumor was that the color combination was Evita’s idea. Nonetheless, after they forced Juan Peron to escape Argentina in 1955, the car stayed in the country. When he came back in 1973, the first thing he did was to reunite with his favorite car.

10. Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet Union

After Lenin and Stalin, who were hardcore dictators with the blood of millions on their hands, the later Soviet Union leaders seemed benign. But, even if they didn’t start a revolution or lead a world war, they still fought the Cold War, dealt with political enemies, financed coups in third-world countries and lived as Tsars on behalf of government funds. That is exactly what Brezhnev did for almost 20 years in the office.

But, during that time, Leonid Brezhnev accumulated a large car collection and was a keen driver himself. In fact, his car addiction was so big, his personal protocol stated that car gifts were obligatory if you want to talk business with comrade Leonid. All western leaders knew that, so when they went to Moscow or Brezhnev came to them, there had to be a car waiting as a present.

He got a Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3 from Germany’s chancellor, numerous Cadillac and Lincolns from Nixon, a Rolls Royce from Queen Elizabeth, a Citroen SM from Charles de Gaulle and even a Zastava 1100 from Josip Broz Tito. He even received a burgundy Maserati Quattroporte from the Italian Communist Party.

The garages at the Kremlin were full of top-notch western machinery waiting for Brezhnev. In one incident, Brezhnev crashed his Rolls Royce, possibly under the influence of vodka. The car still exists in its crumpled condition in a museum in Riga.

11. Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia

Emerging from the World War II as a military commandant, Josip Broz Tito was an interesting character in post-war Europe. Perfectly balanced between the Soviet Union and Western allies, Tito transformed Yugoslavia into a modern European socialist federal state, earning respect from the international community.

He supported his rule by force, dealing with all kinds of state enemies. Even though he wasn’t cruel dictator like some of his contemporaries, he positioned himself as an absolute leader for life. Tito lived lavishly, traveling the world and meeting with world leaders and A-list celebrities.

One of his passions was cars, so although he never officially owned any vehicles, he had almost a thousand cars at his disposal until his death in 1980. Tito started with Cadillacs, using sedan versions as official transport and convertibles as his personal choice. He then moved to the famous Mercedes 600, owning six in various specifications. He joined the company of other dictators, like Chairman Mao, Paul Pot, Idi Amin, Kim Jong-II who owned the massive and opulent 600.

He also used Lincoln Continentals to personally chauffeur important guests on the Brijuni Islands. Tito was a keen driver and claimed he learned driving and mechanics as a Mercedes employee before the war. He often took his guests on joy rides in various expensive convertibles.

12. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, Equatorial Guinea

If you think dictatorships and spending money on crazy cars is a thing of the past and modern times put an end to this behavior, think again. There are still power-crazed, unbelievably rich leaders who are blowing their people’s money on four-wheeled status symbols. The best example is Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice president of Equatorial Guinea, a small oil-rich country in western Africa.

He is the son of current president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Even though there are no reports of the father-son duo being responsible for killing the innocent, suppressing democracy or dealing with political opponents same as Idi Amin, there is something wrong with the way they treat their government’s funds.

In fact, the vice president and son of the acting president were forced to escape Switzerland last year. This is when Swiss official seized his collection of supercars. The 11-car collection included the latest models from Bugatti, Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Koenigsegg. They estimated the value of his collection at over 10 million dollars.

But this wasn’t the first time the 43-year-old vice president had trouble with the law. In 2011, the French police seized 4 million dollars worth of his cars, including two Veyrons, a Maserati MC12, a Porsche Carrera GT, a Ferrari Enzo, a Maybach, a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a Ferrari 599 GTO. The reasons for the actions of the French and Swiss police are the money laundering charges against him. Due to immunity, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue is still a free man, but they are going to sell his cars.

Dictators tend to enjoy living a lavish lifestyle, but their cars are what matters to them. Instead of feeding the hungry or protecting the poor, they fill their garages with expensive luxury cars. Imagine how much good they could do if they spent the money on meeting their countries’ needs.

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