If there’s one thing a dictator loves more than a rigged election and the secret police, it’s a flashy car — and here are five of the most infamous.
Kim Jong Il — Mercedes-Benz 600
It’s a mystery how North Korea has any cash for nuclear weapons when you consider the stockpile of Mercedes they’ve accumulated. Kim Jong Il, the supreme leader who died in 2011, is reported to have spent a quarter of an $80m foreign aid fund on 20 luxury Mercs, adding to the rumoured 7000 German vehicles that have been snuck into the hermit Communist state. Kim got his first Mercedes-Benz 600 when the first rolled off the production line in 1963, then upgraded to a Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman Guard limo in 2009.
Adolf Hitler — Mercedes Benz 770
Arguably history’s most vile figure also favoured the German manufacturer, naturally. The 770 was the choice of high-ranking Nazi officials — weighing more than five tons with the 2cm thick steel plates in the body panels and the 4cm thick glass — as well as World War II allies Emperor Hirohito of Japan and Francisco Franco of Spain. Even rarer was the 1942 Mercedes-Benz 320 Cabriolet D convertible — only eight were ever made, all for Nazi leaders.
Robert Mugabe — Rolls Royce Phantom
The Phantom is a favourite of the English royal family — so for all of the Zimbabwean tyrant’s anti-British ranting and raving, it turns out an ironic touch of colonial-era British luxury is too hard to refuse, parading around in a vintage black Rolls that must be worth more than his country’s entire GDP. Mugabe also has a Mercedes-Benz 600 in his collection, placing him alongside the North Korean nutters, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and Chairman Mao.
Idi Amin — Citroën SM
The Butcher of Uganda acquired a massive collection of autos stolen from those who fled his brutal regime in the 1970s, as well as gifts from other shady rulers, including a Mercedes Benz 300 Coupe from Colonel Gaddafi according to reports. But he had a real soft spot for the sporty little French Citroën, filling his garage with seven of the cutting-edge grand tourers.
Benito Mussolini — Alfa Romeo 6c Sport Berlinetta
Il Duce tried to escape Italy to Switzerland at the end of WWII in this burgundy 1939 Alfa . . . but was intercepted at the border and summarily executed, allowing an American army officer to nick his wheels. The six-cylinder coupe was forgotten in upstate New York for decades until it was refurbished and auctioned in the States two years ago for US$2.4m (AU$3.2m). Before his demise, Mussolini also paraded around in a custom-made Lancia Astura, one of only six produced for Italy’s fascist rulers.