30 Dictator-Favorite Cars

Dictator car

Hey, when you have to oppress your people and commit unforgivable acts of genocide, torture, and numerous other human rights violations, it’s always better to drive around in style while you are doing it. There’s no reason you should have to drive around in a Ford Taurus just because you are one of the most despicable human beings on the planet.

While it might be better for everyone if you were driving around in a Ford Pinto, when you are rich and powerful, sometimes you can’t help yourself but go all out with a luxury ride. Many dictators seem to favor the likes of the Mercedes-Benz, which screams luxury at every turn and helps cover up the screams of your people.

Nothing says “disposable income” like having the collected coffers of an entire oppressed nation at your fingertips. But did these strongmen have a sense of style to match? Now, we’re taking a look at the sweet rides they cruised around in and the collections they amassed as they ran their respective countries into the ground.

Here are 30 Dictator-Favorite Cars for your enjoyment. You probably won’t see these automakers putting dictator endorsements on their ads anytime soon, but it is interesting to know, so let’s take a look!

Rafael Trujillo – 1957 Chevy Bel-Air

Rafael Trujillo - 1957 Chevy Bel-Air
(Image via Wikipedia)

Rafael Trujillo was twice elected president of the Dominican Republic, but even when he technically didn’t hold the post, he was still the military strongman managing the puppet strings of political figureheads. Over the course of his 31-year reign, he brought some stability and monetary prosperity to the Caribbean country. The cost, however, was that most of that prosperity went to him and his family members. Trujillo spent much of his newfound wealth on a car collection that any auto enthusiast would be jealous of.

Trujillo was mostly a Ferrari man, but he was riding in a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air when his brutal reign of racially-motivated slaughter was brought to an end in 1961. The people who ambushed him on a highway and gunned him down were given government pensions and regarded as national heroes.

Idi Amin – Mercedes-Benz 600

Idi Amin - Mercedes-Benz 600
(Image via Wikipedia)

Idi Amin had a penchant for self-aggrandization that would put any dictator to shame. He declared himself, among other things, “Uncrowned King of Scotland” and “Lord of All Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea.” He also had a love of the Mercedes-Benz 600, which you’re going to be hearing a lot about here.

The 600 was the most expensive car on Earth at its time, and as such, it was sort of the go-to for dictators. Its list of fans includes Mao Tse Tung, Leonid Brezhnev, Nicolae Ceausescu, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Un, Pol Pot, Ferdinand Marcos, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, and Donald Trump (who prefers the Mercedes McLaren but has definitely had an S600 or two).

Joseph Stalin – ZIS-115

Joseph Stalin - ZIS-115
(Image via Wikipedia)

The ZIS-115 is a reverse-engineered, armored take on the Packard Super Eight. Stalin actually had several of these, as well as the non-armored ZIS-110 and an actual Packard or two. The guy was crazy about those sleek, deco curves. Who wouldn’t be? Of course, he was also just regular old crazy, having killed millions of people.

Stalin was a Gregorian revolutionary and political leader who governed the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1953 when he died. Although the initial plan to govern was collective leadership, Stalin ultimately became a dictator. The estimated number of people killed by Stalin during his rule is between 2 million and 3 million.

Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier – Ferrari Testarossa

Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier - Ferrari Testarossa
(Image via Wikipedia)

François”Papa Doc” Duvalier was a brutal nationalist who murdered anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 Haitians. His son, Jean-Claude, had less hardened political views. He was more of a selfish, thoughtless sort of dictator.  He was the President of Haiti from 1971 until he was overthrown in February 1986.

He loved fast cars, particularly Ferraris like the Testarossa and the 365 GT. He had a habit of racing around in those while his more business-minded wife focused on oppressing the country to fund it all. The vehicle was manufactured from 1966 to 1971 and was incredibly fast for its time.

Fidel Castro – GAZ Chaika

Fidel Castro - GAZ Chaika
(Image via Wikipedia)

Castro loved cars, and assembled a veritable museum over his life. He originally preferred American cars, driving Fords, Chevys, and Oldsmobiles for years. After America stopped trade with Cuba, Castro went abroad – and upscale – for a series of Audis, BMWs, and Mercedes-Benzes, especially the Mercedes-Benz 600 (sound familiar?).

He also had some of those Soviet ZiLs that Stalin was so fond of, and so the GAZ Chaika. The GAZ in particular became a symbol of Castro’s luxury, which made them a smash hit when he tired of them and put them into the state-run taxi fleet.

Vladimir Lenin – 1922 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

Vladimir Lenin - 1922 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
(Image via Wikipedia)

Vladimir Lenin (of the Red Terror and “decossackization”) paid a lot of lip service to equality, while he cruised around in a car that was the height of luxury. We know for a fact that this was purchased by one of Lenin’s emissaries, and not “inherited” from Czar Nicholas. In fact, the Communist leader owned nine Rolls-Royces over the course of his rule.

Vladmir Lenin was the first head of the government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. He was born of a middle-class family so it’s no wonder he went all-out with a fancy new car after becoming one of the most powerful leaders in the world.

Indira Gandhi – Hindustan Ambassador

Indira Gandhi - Hindustan Ambassador
(Image via Wikipedia)

Chevrolet has a long-standing history as a Bollywood status symbol, so it’s not surprising that Indira Gandhi would cruise around in a 1963 Chevrolet Impala. Gandhi’s most famous car, though, was a white Hindustan Ambassador that was famously towed by Nirmal Singh, whose supervisor Kiran Bedi became a somewhat-contentious folk hero after refusing to punish him.

Indira Gandhi was the third Prime Minister of India and the only female Prime Minister in India. She was in office from 1980 to 1984. In 2020, she was named among the world’s 100 powerful women who defined the last century by Time Magazine. Good for her, I guess?

Sadaam Hussein – Porsche 911

Sadaam Hussein - Porsche 911
(Image via Wikipedia)

Sadaam Hussein – as well as his sons, Uday and Qusay, had a thing for car collecting. Along with some bog-standard dictator favorites like the Ferrari Testarossa (in pink) and the Mercedes S600 (hello again, 600!), they found a pink 1955 Chevy Bel Air and a couple of Porsche 911s.

Saddam Hussein served as the fifth President of Iraq from 1979 to 2003. While officially named a President, he was most certainly a dictator who committed numerous civil rights abuses. An estimated 250,000 Iraqis were killed by Saddam’s security forces, committing genocide against his own people – apparently, while he drove around in his fancy car.

Muammar Gaddafi – Saroukh el-Jamahiriya

Muammar Gaddafi - Saroukh el-Jamahiriya
Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Muammar Gaddafi was a Lybian revolutionary committed to the ideas of nationalism and socialism, governing as a de facto ruler over the Lybian people. Gaddafi didn’t spend on cars like a Castro or a Kim Jong-Un. But he did have a BMW 7 series, a Mercedes Limo, and a custom Fiat 500 that somehow cost more than a quarter of a million dollars.

It was supposed to be the worl’s safest car, but it never quite came to fruition. Bizarrely, despite the “Rocket” appellation, it was powered by a puny little V6 – hardly fitting for a world leader of any sort, much less a merciless dictator. Still his crowning car glory has got to be the car that he designed himself – Saroukh el-Jamahiriya, the “Libyan Rocket.”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – 1977 Peugeot 504

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - 1977 Peugeot 504
(Image via Wikipedia)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was known for a lot of things – like moving Iran towards theocracy, eroding freedom of speech and assembly, and stoking rampant homohobia. He openly antagonized numerous global superpowers and more or less completely disregarded human rights within Iran’s borders. But he also pulled several charitable moves, including administering free food, and selling his white Peugot 504 for nearly $2.5 million to raise money for a housing initiative.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad served as the sixth president of Iran from 2005 to 2013. The conservative president was the political leader of the  Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran. Having lost the 2012 parliamentary elections, he was taken out of his seat of power the following year.  He was tried to get reelected in recent years but had been disqualified. Better luck next year.

Adolph Hitler – Mercedes-Benz 770K

Adolph Hitler - Mercedes-Benz 770K

If there is one man that instantly comes to mind when you think of the word “dictator,” it would have to be Adolf Hitler – a man who enjoyed all the finest luxuries while he committed heinous acts all over Europe. Most photos of Hitler in a car show him in the “Grosser Mercedes” – for us English speakers, that’s “the big’un.”

This 6×6 was one of several custom jobs ther German company put together for the dictator – in fact he once said that he would “not tolerate a car manufactured by another company.” (Despite being a key figure in creating both the Volkswagen company and the car itself.) It’s worth noting that the Mercedes 600 didn’t yet exist, but when it came into existence, it was also known as the “Grosser Mercedes.”

Benito Mussolini – 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Sport Berlinetta

Benito Mussolini - 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Sport Berlinetta
(Image via Wikipedia)

Like Hitler, Mussolini believed in supporting local businesses. He adored Alfa Romeo, having corresponded with Nicola Romeo himself to wax enthusiastic about an early model he owned. During his reign, he owned a minimum of two 6C 2300 Spiders, a 1500 sedan, a 1500 convertible, and four 1750s.

Mussolini went so far as to have Ercole Boratto, a race car driver known for driving Alfa Romeos, serve as his personal chauffeur. He and his girlfriend were even fleeing Italy in a 6C Sport Berlinetta that he gave her when they were both captured and killed. If you gotta flee Italy, you gotta do it in style afterall.

Ferdinand Marcos – Mercedes-Benz 600

Ferdinand Marcos - Mercedes-Benz 600
(Image via Wikipedia)

As many dictators have owned the Mercedes-Benz 600, we can usually find another car to talk about instead, but Ferdinand Marcos is a special case. Marcos loved the 600. In fact, he owned no fewer than four of these cars, including a Landaulet, a bulletproof model, and a six-door version.

As President of The Philippines, Marcos enacted sweeping legislation, industrialized agriculture, and massive infrastructure projects – by enacting martial law, killing thousands of people and racking up billions of dollars in debt. Maybe that’s the only way to afford one – either that, or be John Lennon. We’d prefer John Lennon.

Kim Jong-Il – Mercedes Maybach

Kim Jong-Il - Mercedes Maybach
(Image via Wikipedia) 

Kim Jong-Il loved his Mercedes. His favorite was a Maybach, but he wasn’t too picky. He once spent $20 million of an $80 million humanitarian aid package on Mercedes sedans as a giant “thank you” card for a successful missile test, and after that fiasco, reportedly gave away 160 Mercedes sedans to his friends in 2010 alone.

He eventually replaced his beloved Maybach with (you guessed it) – the 600, in this case the S600 Pullman Guard limo. He inherited that love of Mercedes from his father Kim Il-sung, and seems to have passed it on to his son, Kim Jong-Un, whose extravagant spending has outstripped even his father’s, so much so that it was the subject of a special U.N. report.

Pol Pot – 1973 Mercedes-Benz W115

Pol Pot - 1973 Mercedes-Benz W115
(Image via Wikipedia)

The ruthless leader of the Khmer Rouge became infamous for “the Killing Fields,” where shackled workers were forced to dig their own graves before being buried alive, so as not to waste bullets. Such frugality afforded Pol Pot luxuries like the 1973 Mercedes-Benz W115 with a short wheelbase. (And of course, the Mercedes-Benz 600.)

The Cambodian revolutionary and politician governed Cambodia as the Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea between the years of 1976 and 1979. His political ideology aligned with the Marxist-Leninist types and he was also a nationalist. Who is to say if he put that on his dating profile, but alas, he’d probably put that he owned a Mercedes on there.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – Maserati 5000 GT

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – Maserati 5000 GT
(Image via Wikipedia)

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the last Shah of the Imperial State of Iran before being overthrown in the Iranian Revolution. He was known simply as The Shah. Having come into power during WWII, he promoted a surge in oil prices that really messed up western economies. But that was nothing because as time went on, things got worse. As the people of Iran became disillusioned at the idea of a monarchy, they began to protest and in response to this, the Shah had protesters wounded and killed by his military.

After western support was withdrawn, the Shah left Iran and went into exile. Did he do it in his Maserati 5000 GT? Who knows. But it was the exclusive car of the Shah, designed as a variation of the Maserati 3500. The modified vehicle had a 325 hp V8 engine and a four-speed manual transmission.

Ferrari 1952 Inter Ghia Coupe

Juan Peron – Ferrari 1952 Inter Ghia Coupe
(Image via Forza Magazine)

Juan Peron was an Argentine Army general and politician, who served in various government positions, and most notably the Minister of Labour and Vice President. He was elected as the president of Argentina three times until he was overthrown in 1955. After living in exile, he ran for reelection in 1973, won the election and served until his death by heart attack.

Juan Peron’s ride of choice was the 1952 Ferrari Inter Ghia Coupe. It has a V12 engine that generated 170 hp. Juan Peron was a huge fan of Ferraris but this yellow and black vehicle was by far his favorite. Upon returning to office in 1973, he was finally reunited with it.

Leonid Brezhnev – Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3

Leonid Brezhnev - Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3
(Image via Wikipedia)

Leonis Brezhnev of the Soviet Union was the General Secretary of the communist party and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. He had an 18-year term as general secretary. While he had a somewhat successful rule in terms of stability and foreign policy, there was also corruption and a lack of economic growth.

One thing that was always growing, however, was Brezhnev’s car collection. He was a huge fan of cars and you might even call it an addiction. Allegedly, if you even wanted a chance to talk business with him, you needed to provide a car gift. One such gift was the Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3 gifted by the German Chancellor.

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue – Lamborghini Veneno

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue - Lamborghini Veneno
(Image via Wikipedia)

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue was Vice President of Equatorial Guinea. He served as second vice president from 2012 to 2016 and then first Vice President starting in 2016. He has been accused of numerous criminal charges including embezzlement and corruption.

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue was known for his lavish lifestyle, so it’s no surprise that he owned numerous luxury cars. Having been forced to escape Switzerland, Swiss officials seized 11 supercars from Porsche, Bugatti, Ferrari and Lamborghini, among others – a collection worth over $10 million. Among them was the Lamborghini Veneno.

Mao Zedong – The Hongqi CA770

Mao Zedong - The Hongqi CA770
(Image via Wikipedia)

Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao, was the Chinese communist revolutionary and the founding father of the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. He ruled as chairman from 1949 until 1976 when he died. Having been the son of a prosperous peasant, he did have a taste for the finer things.

Mao Zedong drove around in the Hongqi CA770, which was basically a Chrysler Imperial by another name. The vehicle was in production from 1966 until 1981. The vehicle had a V8 engine that generated around 215 horsepower. It was available in limited quantities but only the finest things for Mr. Zedong!

Nicolae Ceausescu – 1974 Buick Electra

Nicolae Ceausescu - 1974 Buick Electra
(Image via Wikipedia)

Nicolae Ceausescu was a Soviet politician and dictator. He served as General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party, First President of Romania and president of the state council. He was overthrown in December of 1989 and executed during the Romanian Revolution. His totalitarian government was responsible for mass surveillance, repression, and other human rights violations.

Nicolae Ceausescu drove a 1974 Buick Electra that was gifted to him by President Nixon. Most features included in the car, pretty much no Romanian had access to at the time such as air conditioning and leather upholstery. The vehicle didn’t have a great fuel economy, however, using about 40 liters per 100 km.

Josip Broz Tito – 1948 Packard

Josip Broz Tito – 1948 Packard

Josip Broz Tito came out of WWII as a military commander, turning Yugoslavia into a socialist federal state. Although not as cruel as many of the dictators of the time, he had a position of power he was not willing to give up, declaring himself the absolute ruler for life. And he lived lavishly like a celebrity.

Like some of the other dictators on this list, he loved cars immensely. He didn’t have a collection but he would use various luxury vehicles as transportation. Among them was the Mercedes 600. However, he did own one notable luxury car, his 1948 Packard, which was a pretty sweet ride.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Vladimir – The Aurus Senat

Vladimir - The Aurus Senat
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator for the modern age, serves as the current President of Russia. He has been in this position since 2012 and was previously in office from 1999 to 2008. Recently he changed the constitution, which would allow him to serve until the year 2036. Were he to serve that long, he would become the longest-reigning ruler.

The Aurus Senat limo is the official ride of Vladimir Putin. It was made by the Russian luxury car brand NAMI. The car 4.4-liter V8 engine combined with a hybrid powertrain. It generates a whopping 598 hp. It is claimed that the vehicle offers protection, even when fully submerged in water, and that it is bomb proof and bulletproof.

Nicholas II – Delaunay-Belleville

Nicholas II - Delaunay-Belleville
(Image via Wikipedia)

Russian Tsar Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, as well as the King of Congress in Poland and the Grand Duke of Finland. He reigned from 1894 to 1917. He died in 1918 at the age of 50 when he was executed by Bolshevik officer Yakov Yurovsky, having been shot several times.

Nicholas II owned the Delaunay-Belleville limo, which he was frequently seen in, in-around 1910. For its time, the vehicle was quite unusual because the engine was started from behind the wheel instead of in the front. Other customizations included an adjusted height to suit the Tsar and it drove a lot more smoothly than other vehicles of the time period.

Nikita Khrushchev – ZIL-111

Nikita Khrushchev - ZIL-111
(Image via Wikipedia)

Nikita Khrushchev was the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He was in office from 1953 to 1964. While surprised the communist world by denouncing Stalin’s crimes, although he certainly helped Stalin when he was in power. And in his own rule, Khrushchev established himself as a force to be reckoned with.

Nikita Khrushchev was the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He was in office from 1953 to 1964. While surprised the communist world by denouncing Stalin’s crimes, although he certainly helped Stalin when he was in power. And in his own rule, Khrushchev established himself as a force to be reckoned with.

Mikhail Gorbachev – ZIL-114

Mikhail Gorbachev - ZIL-114
(Image via Wikipedia) 

Mikhail Gorbachev was not a strong Soviet leader, serving as president for less than two years. Ideologically, he started off as a Marxist–Leninist but moved to social democracy in the early 1990s. Under him, the Soviet Union collapsed and ceased to exist after his Presidency, and Russia was free, eh…sort of.

Mikhail Gorbachev rode in another Soviet limo much like the ZIL-111. It was labeled the 41052. Recently, one of these limos was sold for $1.7 million. The ZIL-114 was introduced in 1970. It featured a V8 engine with a 424.7 cubic inch capacity. It could achieve 300 hp and came with a two-speed automatic transmission.

Emperor Hirohito –Mercedes 770 Grand Pullman

Emperor Hirohito –Mercedes 770 Grand Pullman
(Image via Wikipedia)

Emperor Hirohito was the 124th Emperor of Japan, who ruled from 1926 to 1989. At the time of his death, he was the only ruler with the title of Emperor in the world. Not only was he the longest-surviving and longest-reigning emperor of Japan, but he was also one of the longest-reigning monarchs in the world.

Emperor Hirohito’s ride of choice was the Mercedes 770 Grand Pullman Limousine. The Emperor had received in in 1935. It featured special protection equipment such as a steel armored roof and doors. The vehicle had a V8 engine with 150 hp and a top speed of 93 mph. Only 117 units were produced.

Gamal Abdel Nasser – 1961 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75

Gamal Abdel Nasser - 1961 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75
Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images

Gamal Abdel Nasser was an Egyptian politician who served as the second President of Egypt from 1954 to 1970. In 1952, he overthrew the monarchy. While he had anti-imperialist attitudes and advocated for social justice, many criticized him for his authoritarian ruling style and human rights violations, and for his eventual focus on military institutions.

Nasser’s ride was the 1961 Cadillac Fleetwood series 75, his official limousine. The vehicle had a 6.4-liter V8 engine. The vehicle had power steering, power windows, electric seats, climate control and many of the modern features included in most cars today. The car was sold by the Egyptian government and then resold several times at auction and restored in 2003.

President Emomali Rakhmon – 2011 Audi A6

President Emomali Rakhmon – 2011 Audi A6

President Emomali Rahmon is the third President of Tajikistan and arguably one of the longest-ruling dictators in the world that you may not have even heard of. He has ruled for 28 years now and what kind of president rules that long? While there were four presidential candidates in 2011, the country has no free media and no independent opposition which made him the sure-fire winner.

President Emomali Rakhmon has been seen in numerous luxury cars like the 2011 Audi A6. This vehicle offers a V8 engine that generates 350 horsepower. Its not that fuel-efficient however, getting 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. It may not be the showiest car on this list, though, so perhaps he’s not that big of a car guy.

Robert Mugabe – Vintage Rolls Royce

Robert Mugabe - vintage Rolls Royce
(Image via Wikipedia)

Robert Mugabe was a revolutionary from Zimbabwe who served as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987, and then became President from 1987 to 2017. Currently, his ideology aligns with most African nationalists, but during the ‘70s and ‘80s he had communist beliefs, and in the ‘90s, more along the lines of socialism.

While he helped free his country of British rule, he’s been accused of corruption and human rights violations including anti-white racism and crimes against humanity. But although that may sound bad, you have to realize that he was driving around in a vintage Rolls Royce, so clearly, he’s a classy gent. That makes up for it, right? No? Yeah, we didn’t think so.