This hodgepodge group of individuals ranges from sporting legends to reality TV stars, spacemen, dictators and stand-up comedians, but they all have one thing in common—a notable enthusiasm for the automobile that saw them buy (and ultimately sell) a fascinating collection of interesting cars.
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9. Richard Pryor
Riotous comedian Richard Pryor lived a wild life both on and off the stage. Married seven times to five different women, and sired seven kids with six of these partners, his relationships with cars proved just as torrid. In 1974, he was jailed for a variety of traffic offenses, and four years later he was arrested once again after shooting his wife’s car as she tried to leave him. “I thought it was fair myself,” Pryor told biographer Chris Sullivan for his book Rebel Rebel. “She was going to leave me so I shot the car. I shot the tyre ‒ Boom! Another tyre said, ‘Ahhh!’ I shot another [and] it went, ‘Ohhh!’ I shot the motor. But the motor fell out.” Given Pryor’s historic treatment of cars, it’s no surprise that buyers were a little reticent when his 1981 Mercedes-Benz 280CE came up for auction at Barrett Jackson’s Las Vegas sale in 2019. The car sold for just $7,088 – or 52 per cent less than one would have expected a similar Mercedes to make.
8. Pope Benedict
With four Popes on our list, there are almost enough cars to fill a Vatican City motor show. Pope Benedict appears to be the least profitable when it comes to selling vehicles, however. A 2013 Harley-Davidson Softail Classic owned (but we can’t imagine ever ridden) by Benedict fetched a decent £34,439 (around $53,000) at Bonham’s in Paris 2015, but a 2008 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Popemobile sold in Ireland in 2015 for just £4,236 ($6,565), representing a dramatic 76 percent drop compared to an equivalent M-Class. Together, these sales combine to give Pope Benedict a negative impact on prices of 16 percent.
7. Kris Jenner
Anyone hoping to keep up with the Kardashians will need to pay 70 percent over the odds if the sale of Kris Jenner’s 1956 Ford Thunderbird is anything to go by. Jenner reportedly bought the car from famed T-Bird restorer Amos Minter because her mother owned one. However, she only owned it for two years before selling it on at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale for a healthy £45,287 ($62,700).
6. Adolf Hitler
Vehicles associated with Hitler achieved an average of 125 per cent more than similar cars. Two sales of the dictator’s drives made our list: a 1938 Lancia Astura and a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 770K Grosser open limousine. The Astura gained no extra value from its association, selling for £119,407 (around $220,000) at RM Auctions in London in 2007, but the Grosser grossed $7 million (£5,059,997) at Worldwide Auctioneers Scottsdale in 2018 for a 132 percent delta.
5. Pope John Paul II
John Paul II happens to be the second Pope on our list and commands a papal premium of 213 percent as calculated by the sales of two extremely different cars. A 2005 Ferrari Enzo gifted to John Paul by Ferrari hit RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction in 2015, where it achieved a price of $6,050,000, a boost of 210 percent over a less-blessed example. Back in 2006, a custom-built British Leyland Popemobile used during his 1982 visit to Scotland was reportedly sold for £37,000 (around $70,000), which our experts calculated was a holy hike of 1,380 percent.
4. Pope Francis
The most petrolhead Pope appears to be Francis, as we counted four sales totaling almost £4 million, leading to an average increase of 240 percent. A 2018 Lamborghini Huracan donated by the Sant ‘Agata supercar marque sold for $857,000 at RM Sotheby’s 2018 Monaco sale, a tidy 127 percent gain. Nice, but it’s an ordinary Fiat 500L that was used to chauffer His Holiness around New York in 2016 that saw the most glorious gains. A regular 500L would have been valued at just over £5,000 ($6,100) but this car sold twice in the space of a few months, first netting £57,808 ($82,000) and then $300,000 for a combined increase of 3,900 percent. Thankfully, the sale profits went to charity.
3. Jay Leno
We all know Jay Leno has a very impressive garage, and it seems that any car passing through his hands sees substantial gains. Four of Leno’s vehicles have been through the auctions, delivering an average increase of 706 percent in the process. Leno sold a diverse bunch of bruisers from a Dodge Challenger to a Tesla Model S, but it’s the smallest Fiat 500 which saw the biggest profits. Leno’s 2012 Prima Edizione—number 002 of 500—achieved a massive $350,000 in 2012, or a hike of 3,177 per cent. Why so high? Proceeds from the auction at Gooding & Company’s sale at Pebble Beach went to charity, and the winning bidder got claimed a ticket good for a tour of Jay’s garage.
2. Muhammad Ali
He floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee, and sells like a…Spider? At Barrett Jackson’s 2018 Las Vegas sale, Muhammad Ali’s 1976 Alfa Romeo Spider went for $23,100 for a 279 percent improvement over a less heavyweight example. At Bonham’s Zoute sale the same year, the boxer’s 1970 Rolls-Royce Shadow Convertible achieved $139,788 for a 355 percent rise, giving the champ a haymaking average hike of 956 percent. Knockout!
1. Apollo astronauts
A Lincoln Continental first used to parade Pope Paul VI and then astronauts from four Apollo missions through the streets of New York tops our list with a stratospheric 1,882 per cent rise over a conventional Continental of the same era. The 1964 model year Lincoln was built at the request of the Vatican to have a 160-inch wheelbase, running boards, a landaulet roof and a special raised pedestal for the Pope to perch upon. It was later commandeered for NASA astronauts from Apollo 8, 11, 13 and 15, which means several of its occupants had been to the moon and back. Understandably, the $216,109 fetched at Bonham’s Quail Lodge sale in 2011 was stellar as well.
The Hagerty Valuation Team says:
This was a favorite category of the 2022 Hagerty Power List, as it included a collection of incredibly diverse cars. Interestingly, two cars that we tracked associated with Hitler failed to sell at auction, with the only purchases we know of taking place behind the scenes, for obvious reasons. The highlight for me, though, was the 1964 Lincoln Continental limousine that not only housed a Pope on his visit to Chicago, but also took four Apollo crews through their ‘welcome home’ ticker-tape parades. Now that is a cool car to have, and a surefire high school prom hire moneymaker.
See the other categories from The Hagerty Power List 2022
• The Hagerty Power List 2022: Movies
• The Hagerty Power List 2022: Movie stars
• The Hagerty Power List 2022: Musicians
• The Hagerty Power List 2022: Royalty
• The Hagerty Power List 2022: Drivers
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