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 and 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 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.
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.
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.
Juan PerÃ³n, 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.
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.
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`s leaders and A-list celebrities.
One of his passions were 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.
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, Equatorial Guinea
If you think dictatorships and spending money on crazy cars is a thing of 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.