Before becoming heads of state, most prime minsters, presidents, or chancellors drove cars that were surprisingly ordinary.
But just the mere fact that these cars once belonged to them has made their value sky-rocket … or at least in some cases.
David Cameron — 1971 Fiat 500 L
British Prime Minster David Cameron bought the 1971 Fiat in 1998 as a surprise birthday present for his wife, Samantha. They owned the small car for 10 years, driving it for only around 1,000 miles, according to Silverstone Auctions.
At that time, Cameron was 32 years old and worked for the media company Carlton Communications as director of corporate affairs.
On Nov. 17 at the Footman James Classic Motor Show in Birmingham, the white Fiat sold for £18,480 ($29,284), after being estimated at £12,000 by the auction house.
The Fiat 500 L was a popular car in Europe in the ’70s and is considered one of the first city cars.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — 1977 Peugeot 504
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put his 1977 Peugeot 504 up for sale in Nov. 2010, likely intended as a publicity stunt.
At an Iranian exhibition of classic cars in March 2003, the Peugeot was sold for $2.5 million, more than 1,000 times its estimated value. More than half a million bidders had registered online for the auction of the 35-year-old car.
Ahmadinejad used the car while Mayor of Tehran from 2003 to 2005.
Pope Benedict XVI — 1999 Golf IV
In January 2005, Benjamin Halbe bought a 1999 Volkswagen Golf from a car dealer in Siegen, Germany. To his surprise, records documented the former owner as Joseph Alois Ratzinger, a famous German cardinal at that time.
Four month later, Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI. That’s when Halbe decided to offer the car on eBay.
He advertised the metallic-gray car as a Papamobil (Italian for Pope’s car) which “drives heavenly.”
The bid became one the highest attended auctions on eBay with 8.5 million clicks. It did not need seem to matter to the bidders that Ratzinger does not have a driver’s license.
Eventually, with the final bid for 188,938.88 euro (about $241,000) the owner of a Canadian online casino, Richard Rowe, known for bizarre publicity stunts, bought the car.
While Rowe tried to the resell the pope Golf two years later, Halbe started a foundation with the money.
Angela Merkel — Volkswagen Golf II
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, bought her first West German car in September 1990, a Volkswagen Golf II. At that time, she served as a spokesperson for the short-lived last East German government.
A first attempt in April 2012 to auction the 22-year-old car on eBay saw bids going up to almost 130,000 euro (about $166,000). The auction however was called off by eBay due to so-called “fun-bidding.” according to the newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt.
Eventually, a week later the car was bought by an entrepreneur from Southwest Germany for only 10,165.02 euro (approximately $13,000).
“Such a car shall not go under,” said Dirk Fricke, who bought it to advertise his company, according to Der Spiegel.
The Golf is the most successful Volkswagen car ever, having sold more than 25 million units in Germany.
Barack Obama — 2005 Chrysler 300C
Less lucky was the new owner of President Barack Obama’s former 2005 Chrysler 300C.
As Illinois state senator and later federal senator, Obama drove the gray car from 2004 till 2007, for 19,000 miles, according to documents posted to eBay by the seller.
During the his first presidential bid, he changed to a more environmental friendly Ford Escape Hybrid.
When Lisa Czibor from Chicago attempted to sell Obama’s Chrysler last January on eBay for $1 million, it did not attract a single bidder.
According to autoguide.com, the value of similar Crysler cars is less than $15,000.
It did not seem to help that Czibor pointed out in bold letters on the site that the “starting price is not a joke,” and argued that a baseball fan was willing to pay more than $100,000 for a supposedly cursed baseball.
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