What Drives World Leaders?

State Cars Around the World

To quote Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US president: “To test a man’s character, give him power.” One can only assume he wasn’t referring to (horse)power in the automotive sense, but we like to think there’s an analogy there.

Being a great statesman or stateswoman of our age is synonymous with being chauffeured about in a black bulletproof limo, but a closer look at world leaders’ cars reveals a whole host of novel differences between nations and their ‘state cars’.

World leaders are busy people. They require fast, comfortable vehicles to ensure they make it to all their official events in the best possible frame of mind. Some of the most powerful men and women have the ultimate custom-built vehicles for their personal needs. Take for example the Emperor of Japan, whose one-of-a-kind Toyota features granite entry steps and a traditional Japanese rice paper headlining for passengers.

Being a leader is also a dangerous task, and after high profile incidents like the tragic JFK shooting and the unsuccessful John Paul II assassination attempt, security has become a prime concern. Many of these presidential carriages have a range of extraordinary safety features from bulletproof glass and Kevlar tyres to self-contained oxygen supplies and custom, all-terrain chassis for those high-speed, cross-country diversions to the nearest drive-through.

No two countries are the same, and neither are these cars. Some nations prefer to prioritise historical significance and symbolism over safety and function. The Danish royals continue to use their 1958 Rolls-Royce because they’ve always done so, Chile adores its 1966 Ford Galaxie, bought especially for a royal visit from Queen Elizabeth II in 1968, and, until recently, the official presidential car of Uruguay was President Mujica’s personal 1987 VW Beetle. No personalised number plates on that modest runabout!

Take a look at the selection of automobiles below and find your favourite. They all have pros and cons, but they’re all impressive in their own ways. It could be argued that they all have a certain stately beauty. Except, perhaps, for that Popemobile.


While you’re here why not check out our vast stock of private number plates and see if we have your perfect number?

  • Autocar
  • Autotrader
  • Car Magazine
  • CLassic And Sports Car Magazine
  • Country Life magazine
  • Daily Mail
  • Daily Telegraph
  • Easyjet
  • Google
  • Sunday Times
  • Top Gear Magazine

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