Diplomatic Drives: The Classiest Cars of World Leaders

If you think a world leader’s ride is a few tricks shy of the Batmobile, well, you’re not far off. Plenty of official state vehicles are outfitted to protect and intimidate, but not every politician hits the road behind a plate of bullet-repellant glass. From elegant limos, a vintage roadster, and an (almost) getaway car, here are a few remarkable vehicles used by world leaders past and present.

The Queen’s Bentley State Limousine

Bentley State Limousine
Editorial credit: Roman Belogorodov / Shutterstock.com

Queen Elizabeth II was many things, and classy was one of them. The Bentley State Limousine is handsome, ornate, and worth $13.5 million. One of two Bentleys gifted to the Queen to commemorate 50 years on the throne back in 2002, the State Limousine was based on a design exclusive to the Royal family that emphasized safety and comfort sure, but also privacy.

If paparazzi got too close, her highness could cloak herself behind opaque cabin panels while lambswool upholstery ensured maximum coziness. The interior is completely airtight, and its Kevlar tires are impossible to deflate. Armor plating adds much weight to the vehicle, but a 6.7-liter V8 helps it rocket to 130 miles per hour if needed.

Vladimir Putin’s Aurus Senat limo-tank

Image Editorial credit: ilmarinfoto / Shutterstock.com

When he’s not occupying a decoy vehicle, Russia’s President rides around in the toughest Aurus Senat limousine known to man. Like many presidential vehicles, the Russian-made luxury vehicle is bullet-proof, but it’s also grenade-proof and equipped with what’s assumed to be an intimidating artillery level.

Many of Putin’s Aurus Senat’s details are under wraps, but it’s been the official state car of mother Russia since Putin was inaugurated for a fourth time in 2018

Benito Mussolini’s (girlfriend’s) Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Sport Berlinetta

Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Sport Berlinetta
Image Editorial credit: Anton Martynov / Shutterstock.com

The last time Italian dictator Benito Mussolini saw the 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C Sport Berlinetta he gifted to his girlfriend Clara Petacci was the last time he saw anything. After a failed attempt to flee Italy in the car, Mussolini and Petacci were killed, and the two-door Alfa wound up in the hands of Charles Pettit, a US Army officer stationed in Italy at the time.

Pettit shipped the car to his upstate New York home, where it eventually receded into obscurity. Decades later, the rusty Alfa was purchased by a local high school teacher for $300. After learning about the car’s sordid yet fascinating history, Mussolini’s Alfa Romeo journeyed back to Italy for a $570,000 restoration and was sold by RM Auctions for $2.1 million.

Nelson Mandela’s BMW 7-Series

Nelson Mandela’s BMW 7-Series
Image Editorial credit: Art Konovalov / Shutterstock.com

On a redemptive note is the story of the late South African president Nelson Mandela’s BMW. Mandela was famously escorted from the prison, where he spent 27 years in a Toyota Cressida. Shortly after, the Mercedes-Benz plant in South Africa gifted him a red W126 S-Class. Mandela said its color reminded him of blood spilled in battle.

In preparation for the 1994 presidential election, BMW headquarters permitted their South Africa facility to provide Mandela with an armored V12 7-Series with its own oxygen supply. Mandela considered the gift to be extravagant and politely declined, so BMW insisted he test-drive it instead—but refused to take the car back anytime Mandela attempted to return it.

Trudeau’s Mercedes 300SL Roadster

Mercedes 300SL roadster
Image Editorial credit: FernandoV / Shutterstock.com

Before he was the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau opted for modest transportation, like the public bus or his Volkswagen Jetta. However, for those who don’t know, Justin’s father Pierre Trudeau was also the Prime Minister of Canada—during which time he enjoyed cruising the streets in his très chic 1960 Mercedes 300SL convertible.  

When Papa Trudeau passed away in 2000, Justin inherited the prized automobile and is said to have been so enamored with it that he wanted to say his wedding vows inside (he didn’t).

FDR’s Sunshine Special

FDR’s Sunshine Special
Image Editorial credit: Walter Eric Sy / Shutterstock.com

Today, US presidents are accustomed to traveling by land in the practically indestructible Cadillac One, endearingly known as The Beast. Before The Beast had a place in the garage, there was the Sunshine Special, a 1939 Lincoln K Limousine that served as the first-ever official presidential vehicle.

32nd president Franklin Delano Roosevelt enjoyed using the Lincoln limo for most of his 12-year presidency—nicknamed it Sunshine Special due to his preference for riding with the top down. Unfortunately, the top went up and stayed that way after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. It was also outfitted with armor plating and a bullet-resistant gas tank and tires—early inspiration for The Beast, no doubt—before entering retirement in 1950.

This article originally appeared on MyCarMakesNoise.

More from MyCarMakesNoise

The Most Regrettable Rides of the 1960s

Image Editorial Credit: Gestalt Imagery / Shutterstock.com

Amidst the Ford Mustangs and Chevrolet Camaros, several models left drivers and automotive enthusiasts shaking their heads in disbelief. These machines, now infamous for their design flaws, poor performance, and lackluster reliability, are a testament to the trials and errors inherent in pursuing automotive excellence. Read More.

Hogs of the Past: The 11 Best Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Ever Made

Image Editorial Credit: CravenA / Shutterstock.com

In this article, we delve into the history of this legendary manufacturer, highlighting twelve of their most iconic creations. Each motorcycle we’ve chosen has left a significant mark on the motorcycling world and embodies a chapter of the Harley-Davidson legacy. Read More.

Autonomous Roadblocks: The 10 Key Reasons Self-Driving Cars May Never Succeed

Image Editorial Credit: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

This article delves into the heart of the matter and explores the ten key reasons self-driving cars may never succeed. From complex ethical dilemmas to technological limitations, we uncover the roadblocks that stand in the way of full autonomy. Read More.

Avatar photo

Author: Dave Johnston

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *