Heads of state exercise immense power across the globe. They know that the importance of their office allows them to enjoy a certain amount of glamour and one of the most visible signs of their status is their official state vehicles. Those vehicles are used to transport not only the leaders, but also their guests.
Keeping in mind the sensitive nature of the security of statesmen, automobile companies manufacture those vehicles in such a way so that they can withstand acts of hostility and protect their passengers. These cars are fitted with unique accessories and amenities, allowing the ultra-important passengers to have the comfort, safety and entertainment.
Here is a list of most expensive vehicles used by the top statesmen:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has a bulletproof train. Kim recently travelled to China on this armoured train. The deep green train with yellow piping is used exclusively by the ruling Kim family. His father, Kim Jong-il, also used this train. In 1984, Kim Jong-il’s father Kim Il-sung used the train extensively, taking it all the way to Eastern Europe. Inside the car is a desk used by the leaders, along with chairs and a sofa. Like his father and grandfather, Kim Jong-un uses the carriage as a mobile office, with the train having advanced communications and flat screen TVs. These have been installed in the train so that the North Korean leader can give orders and receive news and briefings. The South Korean media reported that North Korea has 90 such special train carriages in total and Pyongyang has a special factory to manufacture these trains.
Zimbabwe is going through a transition period. Robert Mugabe – the revolutionary-turned-dictator who served as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017 – is not in power. During his 37-year reign, the most infamous African ruler used to ride a vintage Rolls-Royce. The car – armoured and the best in the Rolls range – was his first choice. Mugabe also owned a custom-built Mercedes-Benz S600l that was manufactured in Germany to his specifications.
Former Soviet President Joseph Stalin was at the peak of power in the 30s and 40s of the last century. ‘ZIS-110’ and ‘ZIS-115’ secured their places in the list of Stalin’s favourite vehicles. These bulletproof cars – which had a central fog lamp, two special alarm lights, larger tires without white sides, a big cut of a rear wing from outer side for big wheels-mounting and “cloud” window glasses – were built in the Soviet’s special factories. Although Stalin had 32 such cars, (surprisingly) he didn’t use a ‘ZIS-115’ more than two days.
Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini loved fancy cars a lot. Although he used Astura for official purposes, one of his favourite cars was Alfa Romeo Monza. The classic Alfa – which Mussolini had given to his mistress, Petacci, as a gift in 1939 – went up for sale on RM Auctions in 2015 and sold for USD 2.4 million.
Mussolini’s ‘friend’ Adolf Hitler was fond of Mercedes-Benz W31 type G4 cars. This seven-seat touring car was used by the Führer and upper echelons of the Nazi regime in parades and inspections. Hitler ordered Mercedes to build 30 such G4s during his reign.
Probably, many of us have no idea that former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had a great garage and a huge collection of luxury cars. Colonel Gaddafi designed a ‘safe’ car, Libyan Rocket, for himself. The car, which could accommodate five people – had a 230-hp V6 and the nose and tail of a rocket. The dictator also had Mercedes S Class, bulletproof BMW7 series and Fiats in his collection.
Even today, cars are chosen by leaders to give a sense of power, strength and professionalism at home and abroad. The selection of official cars also helps them convey a sense of their country’s national identity. However, automakers face difficulties because of the long list of do’s and don’ts while manufacturing these cars. Many of these cars are scrutinised and built for conditions that most civilian cars would never face.
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