Santa, as all good children know, doesn’t reward naughtiness. So if you’re a great (or not-so-great) dictator, it would seem that your chances of Christmas delivering the wheels of your dreams might be pretty slim.
However, a key benefit of autocracy is not having to rely upon bearded blokes from the Arctic to deliver on your optimum automotive desires. What sort of cars top the wish lists of evil dictators? The answer’s simple: you just need to sneak a peek inside their private garages…
Given his time spent terminating two million fellow Cambodians, you’d think Pol Pot would have had little opportunity for motoring. However, the boss of the Khmer Rouge was a staunch fan of Mercedes-Benz, a badge which crops up with depressing frequency in dictators’ parking slots. Mr Pot actually owned a fleet, all in appropriate black. One made in onto Ebay in 2007, selling for £35,000.
He killed up to 300,000 Ugandans, so no surprise Idi Amin was edgy that someone might seek revenge. His answer was a heavily fortified Range Rover. One observer said the car had “a forest of antennas protruding from it, all kinds of wires, cables, spotlights. Inside were grenades, pistols, knives”. After he fled his homeland for sanctuary in Saudi Arabia, Amin settled down to retirement with a white Chevrolet Caprice, a powder-blue Cadillac and… another Range Rover.
Hitler naturally liked his Mercs, too. But why have a 4×4 when you can order six-wheel drive? The G4 staff car (also to be found in the garage of the Emperor Hirohito) was reinforced to withstand an attempted coup and had bulletproof glass and pistol (not cup) holders. It did 7.8mpg. When things got muddier still, the Führer was fond of his Beetle-based Kübelwagen, which was used to pursue such hobbies as invading Poland.
Muammar Gaddafi was quick to realise that if you’re on the run in the sun, you need some serious wheels. Hence this military-spec Mercedes-Benz ML. MLs are pricey, but this Sahara-spec model cost a gob-stopping £3.5m. It packed a protective cage and radiowave scrambler technology, thus defying drones and guided missiles. The mpg? An academic point when your back garden’s an oilfield. What maniac could possibly have let Gaddafi get his hands on such a brash toy? Take a bow, Nicholas Sarkozy.
The inspiration for countless pussy-stroking Dr Evil caricatures was, yawn, a Mercedes fan, with a personal collection valued at $20m. However, a key part of his cavalcade also included several Nissan Patrol 4x4s. Information on the finer details is fuzzy, though some were kitted for catering and others as dining cars. Jong-Il’s son, meanwhile, is tipped to be pursuing a new brand fetish: Lamborghini.
Stalin’s penchant for USA’s Packard led to Russia reverse-engineering (ie copying) it and calling it the ZIS-110. This special edition, the 1951 ZIS-115 was designed and built especially for Stalin. It weighed more than eight tons and had glass so thick the windows were powered by hydraulics. Its 6.0-litre V8 engine generated 140 PS.
Sasha Baron Cohen chose this St Petersburg-built beast for a starring role in his latest movie, The Dictator. With input from General Motors, the Kombat has a spec to insure it can eat Hummers for breakfast: engine choices include a 3.8-litre Duramax V8 diesel with an optional upgrade to 550bhp. Like many tyrants, it’s a bit lardy, weighing in at 4150kg thanks to bodywork that can stop 7.62mm Kalashnikov bullets.