miercuri, 27 aprilie 2016

The Dictator And His Car - World Of Classic Cars -

A certain amount of ego is required if you want to be the kind of person who single handedly runs a country whilst surrounded by nodding sycophants. This vanity usually manifests itself in everything from elaborate uniforms and incredibly long titles through to the propensity to kill vast swathes of people without finding it too troubling. One of the things that seems to be universally important to the average dictator is the car of choice. From the style of the motor through to the rigorous safety features (and we’re not talking airbags and crumple zones) these guys took their wheels seriously. Here is a rundown of some of the more interesting picks.

Idi Amin

The Citroën SM was the ride of choice for the self-titled Last King of Scotland (last time we checked Amin wasn’t the most Celtic of surnames). He loved the SM so much he owned seven of them. A brilliant car owned by an utterly insane dictator.

Fidel Castro

Nikita Krushchev gifted Russian built ZIL limos to Fidel Castro. Perhaps unsurprisingly Castro preferred to stick to travelling in his beaten up Jeep. But these cars were used for state occasions and to ferry visiting dignitaries around Havana. They are long out of government service and are now used as taxi cabs. So if you’re planning a trip to Cuba you may just find yourself being driven around in the style of a world leader.

Joseph Stalin

The heads of the Communist Party under Joseph Stalin were anything but humble workers driving around in beaten up jalopies. These comrades were carried around in Rolls-Royce motor cars, ZIL limos and Cadillacs. Stalin himself went for a Packard Standard Eight. This inspired the Russian built ZIS limos which went on to become the Red Tsars new choice. His cars were specially pimped up so that they were fairly much bomb proof. The famously paranoid Stalin often changed the cars he used to avoid a routine that might make him an easy target.

Chairman Mao

The Hongqi Red Flag was the original car of choice for the Chinese communist party. It was a hardy workhorse that was eventually scrapped due to it’s incredible thirst for fuel (linked to it’s heavy duty safety features). Surprisingly it’s quite a handsome car, although at some angles it can look like a posh Austin Maxi.

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini was a little jealous of the cavalcades of Nazi era Mercedes that featured whenever he visited Germany. Being a vain, puffed up sort of chap he wanted something equally impressive for Italy. For this he turned to Lancia who knocked up the Astura. It helped il Duce crank up the style factor. The car has been judged favourably by history, not something that can be said about Benito.

Adolf Hitler

The self-professed fan of the VW Beetle opted for a Mercedes Benz W31 when it came to his own motor. This tank of a car was largely ceremonial. It was also hard as nails (anyone would think they were worried about getting assassinated). Used during rally’s (not the racing kind), annexations and as gifts to all round bad eggs such as General Franco. This car is dull but probably incredibly reliable. Perfect for the kind of dictator that likes things dark and heavy.

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein’s taste was notoriously bad. Chintzy mansions with Mills and Boon style art on the walls were de rigueur in 90s Iraq. Mr Hussein’s choice of vintage cars fitted in perfectly with this oddly flamboyant aesthetic. The two cars that stand out most are his bright pink 1955 Chevy Bel Air and his black Cadillac Fleetwood. It makes us think of this dictator as a murderous Fonz. Much like the man himself the cars met a sticky end. The US army were ordered to destroy them all to avoid dealing with hordes of looters. Tanks were used to break them up and they were sold for scrap.

Jose Mujica

The president of Uruguay between 2010 and 2015 is the complete opposite of the dictators on this list. This democratically elected leader was imprisoned for 13 years under the military dictatorship. After years of hardship he finally came to power to help transform the country. His wheels of choice for his time in power? The same powder blue VW Beetle he drove before he came to power. He lived a humble life and donated 90% of his salary to charity. His legacy according to the BBC was to leave the country with ‘a relatively healthy economy and with social stability those bigger neighbours could only dream of’. He still lives on his ramshackle farm with his three legged dog, growing chrysanthemums for sale. 99.9% of politicians working today could learn a thing or two from Mr Mujica.