Believe it or not, the official government cars are a big deal. Come to think of it, they’re one of the most “in-your-face” symbols, and that’s why a cars for the world’s elite are not just your regular luxury and bulletproof monster – it’s much more than that. “Royal” cars are meant to give a sense of power, unity and professionalism at home and during those constant trips abroad. Honestly, we see the cars just as much as the elite folks themselves, so, they’re some sort of an extension of the overall image. And yeah, like I said, these vehicles need to be able to protect their VIP passengers. I don’t have to explain to you that Presidents and Queens (Kings too) are always trying to be as safe as possible, and that’s why you’ll constantly see a top-dog bulletproof Mercedes accompanying them.
From Elegant To Weird – The Most Memorable VIP Rides
However, for other leaders a “routine” Merc is not the perfect option and they insist on driving a car that’s been 100% created at home, so that it can represent the country’s ability to create top-of-the-line vehicles. As for the manufacturers themselves, I imagine they’re having quite a hard time with all those do’s and don’ts and special requests. On the other hand, it they succeed, we usually get a timeless piece of art that stays in our hearts forever. So, the following list is all about that A-One driving: these cars are lucky enough to carry the most powerful men and women on this Earth. They can be classy, they can be bizarre and even ridiculous, but they’re still one of the most memorable vehicles in history.
Cars For The World’s Elite #1 – The Mercedes-Benz 600
Alright, so, as I just said, the 600 Benz is the most popular car of choice among the cars for the world’s elite, the choice of presidents, kings, queens, leaders and even tyrants. This legendary beast was available as a stretched-out limousine, a standard 4-door sedan and as a convertible Landaulet. Every single one of these cars was hand-built and packed with a mighty 6.3-lit V8 engine. The hydraulic system was something else entirely: they had this complex “interface” that controlled everything from the windows down to the suspension. In addition, the potential buyer had a lot of unique options, including the now-famous armored core, which made the car practically bulletproof. So, you can imagine why the Mercedes-Benz 600 is considered to be one of the most expensive cars of its time. Overall, there were only 2,677 units created, and about 70 were officially delivered to leaders world-wide. Even the Pope Paul IV owned one.
#2 – The Hongqi L5
Ok, let’s fly over the Pacific Ocean and land in China. They’ve got this amazing vintage Hongqi L5 model (sounds kinds funny, right, especially with a Chinese accent) that’s not vintage at all. I mean, the current L5 is a brand-new car, it’s just designed specifically in a way to look almost exactly like the 1958 model. Back then Mao Zedong used to drive this stud down the blocks. And today it’s the official ride for the CCP (the Chinese Communist Party) members and visiting leaders. The Hongqi L5 is 18-feet long and has a pretty strong powertrain under that hood: it’s got a 6.0-lit V12 that’s good for 400 Horsepower. The funny fact is, the L5 is open for sale in China; however, given the 800K+ price-tag, you won’t see folks riding this thing on a daily basis. Oh, and yes – it’s the most expensive car in China.
Cars For The World’s Elite #3 – The Toyota Century
Oki-Doki, let’s fly to “friendly” Japan and see what the Samurais and Geishas like to drive (that was a bad attempt at a joke, I know :)). The Century from Toyota, Asia’s finest, is one of the few vehicles out there that represent the cars for the world’s elite and cars for crime equally. It was launched back in 1967, and has been largely the same over the years; still, in ’97 (exactly 3 decades later) the engineers introduced a huge V12 engine that’s exclusive to the Century. So, who drives in this vintage sedan? Only the country’s biggest government officials, including the Prime-Minister himself, other high-ranking officials, and, of course, the imperial family to all kinds of official events. The public has very limited access to it, as Toyota wants to preserve that untouchable, discreet reputation. And to answer your question – yes, the Century is also the car of choice by the Yakuza – go figure!
#4 – The Soviet ZiL 41047
Next stop is Russia, or, rather, the USSR. The mighty-mighty Soviets really loved to show their economical, social, and, of course, military strength to the world (well, to us, the Americans). And even though it was a pretty closed-up country, the legendary ZIL limos gave us a small peak into the automobile industry of the Communists. These cars have been serving the elite for quite a long time, and, even though they went through several updates and upgrades, the final edition – 41047 – looked a lot like the very first 1950 car. Recently, in 2010 the now-Russian government ordered 3 new ZIL convertibles (yep, you heard me) for all kinds of official ceremonies. Hey, wouldn’t it be awesome to drive a ZIL in the US?
Cars For The World’s Elite #5 – The Lincoln Continental Limousine
Aha, this is the car that they killed JFK in, but it also has a very special place in the American history and is like a symbol of hope and faith. They say that President Kennedy himself asked Mr. Ford to create an up-to-date limousine to drive around like it’s the ’60s, not the ’40s. So, the final model was based on the then-new Lincoln Continental and became the official White House ride in June 1961. You won’t believe this, but it was actually still owned by Ford (the company) and it was rented (or, rather, leased) to the American government for 500 dollars a year (that was huge back then). After the President’s death the car went through a couple of changes and continued to drive US presidents until ’77.
#6 – The Bentley State Limousine
The 2001 Bentley State Limousine is the first car from the brand to join the royal line-up. 15 years ago Bentley teamed up with a bunch of talented British folks and designed this beauty to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. The State Limousine was a modern revision of the retro British royal cars and carried on that edgy, aggressive even look thanks to the upright and fancy grille, the round headlights and the tall, round architecture. Get this: only TWO limousines were built and both are owned by the Royal family. They started service in 2002 and have been the official transport for the Queen ever since. There are not other cars for the world’s elite like these.
Cars For The World’s Elite #7 – The 2009 Cadillac One
Alright, guys and girls, this is it – the modern-day American Presidential ride. Yes, it’s not the same Lincoln back from Kennedy’s age – it’s a top-dog Caddy model. So, the Cadillac One may look and drive like a routine limousine, but it’s more of a combat-ready vehicle than a luxury car. The Secret Service doesn’t just call it “The Beast” for no reason: first of all, it’s built on a heavy-duty pick-up truck platform that’s strong enough to withhold a rocket launcher and is powered by a diesel engine. Second, the doors are practically unbreakable and the car has a self-contained oxygen system, a comm. center and just the right amount of firepower to survive the next World War or the Alien Invasion. So, yeah, that’s what Mr. Barrack Obama is driving today. Tell me you don’t want to take it for a spin!
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