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.