A key part of “celebrity life” is having a garage heaving with expensive, exotic cars to maintain that image of wealth and success. Sports stars, musicians, actors, fashion designers and others in the glitterarti have plenty of pesos in the bank to fund a lavish lifestyle, and a few of them have spent their hard-earned building seriously cool collections of cars.
But not all celebrity car collections are made equal and so some are better than others for differing reasons. Do you like rare cars, or the latest and greatest? Do you prefer vintage cars or racing models of yesteryear, or hand-made hot rods? These personal tastes inform the amazing garages below.
So what is a “car collection”? Basically, if you have three or more cars of note, be it high value, rarity or some other important provenance, then you have a car collection.
1. Jay Leno
American comedian and talk show host Jay Leno has over 1600 vehicles in his collection, and they range from tiny micro cars and hot rods, through to a pre-1900 steam car, the latest hypercars from Europe, an American LaFrance fire engine, and even a Ferret Scout army vehicle! Leno loves cars and his passion has led him to collect not only the fastest and most powerful machines, but cool cars and culturally significant models. Said to be worth north of US$52 million, one of the strangest cars in Leno’s brood is the Blastolene Special, otherwise known as “the tank car”. Basically it is a giant hot rod built on a truck chassis with an engine from a tank!
2. Ralph Lauren
Some collections are vast in number, value or provenance. And then there’s fashion designer Ralph Lauren’s connoisseurs’ feast. Said to be worth well over US$350 million, Lauren’s collection includes some of the most desirable classic Ferraris ever made, including a 250 GTO (the most expensive car ever made), a ’58 250 Testa Rossa, a 250 SWB, a 375 Plus and a 250 LM. There are vintage Jaguars, like a Le Mans-winning D-Type racer and its XK SS road-going version, several super-rare pre-World War 2 Alfa Romeos, Bentleys, Bugattis, and Mercedes models. Of all the machines Lauren owns, however, his 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic is in another league as one of just two ever made and the most desirable and advanced supercars of the pre-World War 2 era. Said to be worth over US$50 million it is regarded as the ultimate expression of art deco design.
3. Jerry Seinfeld
The American comic who made millions from his Show About Nothing is a famous Porschephile, having purchased an old airport hangar to house his collection of Stuttgart rockets estimated at being worth between US$50-US$150 million. Seinfeld also has dozens of classic Jaguars, vintage Corvettes and plenty of random cool old tin, but it is his Porsches which he’s almost as famous for. He owns examples of some of the earliest cars to wear the Porsche badge, famous racing versions of all ages, countless 911 and 356 models and more. He actually sold 18 cars from his collection in 2016 for a wild US$22 million just to clear space for new additions!
4. Lindsay Fox
Australian trucking magnate Lindsay Fox might not be a household name, but serious car fiends know about his car collection, which was open to the public in Melbourne. Alongside Coco Chanel’s Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman limousine and a clutch of Mercedes 300SL “gull-wing” supercars, his Ferrari Enzo, F50 and F40s rubbed shoulders with a Jaguar XJR15 racer and XJ220 supercar, a Porsche 550RS Spyder (similar to what James Dean died driving) and later RSK racer, plus a stack of Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, AMG cars, MGs and more. All up the collection is several million dollar’s worth of seriously desirable European collector cars spanning both classic and modern styles, all of which are regularly exercised at Phillip Island race track several hours down the coast from Melbourne.
5. Paul Walker
In his short time on earth Paul Walker brought car enthusiasm to a whole new generation of fans through his starring in of a bunch of Fast & Furious movies. His garage included rare modified Japanese tuner legends like the Nissan R34 GT-R Skyline, five rare BMW E36 M3 Lightweights, a clutch of limited-edition E30 BMW M3s, a modified ’63 Chevy Nova wagon and a ’67 Nova coupe, an R32 GT-R Skyline racer and tuner modified Nissan 370Z, along with several pick-up trucks and motorcycles. Though these cars cost a fraction of one of Floyd Mayweather’s Bugattis, hardcore car aficionados appreciated Walker had a connoisseur’s collection.
6. Bill Gates
For many years the richest man in the world, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is the main reason Americans can enjoy Porsche’s rare 959 supercar as the computer genius fought the US Government for years to “federalise” the car and make it legal to own one in the Land of the Free. While the rest of his collection is fairly tame by the standards on this list, the fact that Gates took on the American Federal Government just so he could enjoy a rare Porsche supercar from the 1980s is wild enough to land him here.
7. Lewis Hamilton
Most racing drivers, even legends like Peter Brock and Craig Lowndes, never built up huge collections of cars, though there are exceptions like drag racing’s Don Garlits, rallying’s Juha Kankkunen, and F1 legend Lewis Hamilton. He owns a genuine Shelby Cobra 427 (one of the most collectable and fastest cars of the 1960s), a Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta, a McLaren P1, a one-off Zonda 760LH hypercar which Pagani made specially for him, and a 1995 McLaren F1 that cost him over US$15,000,000 back in 2017.
8. Rowan Atkinson
Most famous for his comic roles in Mr Bean and Blackadder, Rowan Atkinson is a diehard car fan who spends his downtime racing rare classics like an Aston Martin DB4, 1960s Ford Falcon Sprint and a Jaguar MkVII. He’s also owned a McLaren F1, a host of special Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, and more Aston Martins than James Bond. The most valuable and notable car in Atkinson’s collection, currently, is the 1939 BMW 328 Roadster which won the Mille Miglia open-road race of that year, and is valued above US$1million.
9. Floyd Mayweather
While Kylie Jenner has a very Los Angeles-style collection of custom Rolls Royces, a LaFerrari Aperta and a white Bugatti Chiron, the posterchild for Gen Y balla’s cars pale into insignificance beside boxing legend Floyd Mayweather’s. With 100 cars in his Las Vegas stable you’d walk past the numerous Ferraris (including Enzos and LaFerrari limited-edition models) and almost ignore the multiple Bugatti Veyron special editions (including a Super Sport and a Vitesse) and his Chiron, while the customised Rolls Royce and Bentley ultra-luxe sedans are almost passe compared to the Aston Martin One-77 or the US$5 million Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita – one of just two ever made.
10. James Hetfield
The frontman of Metallica, the most successful heavy metal band of all time, recently donated 10 of his custom cars to Los Angeles’ Petersen Museum (which houses cars formerly owned by Elton John, Steve McQueen and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top). Hetfield’s cars are nearly all custom-made machines, with a hot rodded 1956 F100, his ’37 Lincoln Zephyr “Voodoo Priest”, a ’48 Jaguar “Black Pearl”, ’53 Buick Skylark “Skyscraper”, ’34 Packard “Aquarius”, ’36 Auburn boat-tail “Slow Burn”. Many of these dramatic hot rods have been completely hand-made from customiser Rick Dore’s shop.
11. The Sultan of Brunei
Reputed to be worth around US$20 billion (yes, billion with a “b”), the family of the Sultan of the oil-rich country of Brunei amassed an insane collection of over 7000 exotic and special-order vehicles, which is said to be the largest private collection of cars in the world. We’re talking all sorts of one-off or limited-edition Jaguars, over 300 Ferraris, countless Lamborghinis, 11 McLaren F1s, Bugattis, 20 Koenigseggs and more. The family at one point owned 600 Rolls-Royces, but the sad fact to report is many of these cars are never driven and have fallen into disrepair after air conditioning in their storage garages was turned off many years ago. While collecting cars is cool, there is something incredibly sad about these purpose-built machines sitting and rotting.
Gallery: ABC to Z: A quick guide to the iconic Nissan Z-cars (CarAdvice.com.au)