Being a leader of a country or a member of a royal family can be a highly stressful job. If you are a president or prime minister of one of the superpowers of the world, the job will require a lot of traveling not only outside the country to visit allies but inside the country to check up on everything as well.
Due to this, many leaders opt for special vehicles that are comfortable and offer the capability to communicate with anyone around the world. Some are even armored to withstand not only small arms fire but even grenades and mines. The best example of this is the US president’s Cadillac One – an armored limousine with biohazard protection that can withstand a direct hit from an RPG. Other leaders’ cars are not quite as over-the-top, with the UK prime minister using an armored Jaguar XJ Sentinel and the French president being driven around in a normal Citroën C6.
There are also special versions of car models designed for certain leaders like the glass landaulet roofed Lexus LS used by Monaco’s royal family, or the Toyota Century Convertible used by the Emperor of Japan. Here are ten past and present world leaders and their official transportation.
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10/10 US President – Cadillac One
The US president is one of the most important leaders in the world, and as such, he requires a lot of security wherever he goes. When traveling abroad, he has an entire motorcade transported in a Boeing C-17 Globemaster a few hours before he arrives in the world-famous Air Force One.
The president’s official car is a behemoth called ‘The Beast’ or Cadillac One – a limousine resembling a Cadillac sedan. The car reportedly uses five-inch thick bulletproof glass and a whole host of armaments that are considered state secrets. It is – without a doubt – the coolest of the official vehicles.
9/10 British Prime Minister – Jaguar XJ Sentinel
Like the US president, the UK prime minister also has an armored car, but nowhere near the scale of the Cadillac One. Instead, the Jaguar XJ Sentinel was a specially designed armored model made for the British politician but was based on an already existing armored XJ.
The XJ Sentinel has all the same features as the XJ Ultimate but is unknown if the car is powered by a supercharged V8 or a twin-turbo diesel V6. The Sentinel had ‘bomb-proof’ doors, bulletproof glass, and an armored floor in case of mines.
8/10 French President – Citroën C6
The French President does not use armored vehicles at all, instead opting for a run-of-the-mill Citroën C6. The C6 was the biggest and most luxurious car the French manufacturer made and featured a V6 engine in the front. It may not be the most exciting official car, but it has become a traditional presidential vehicle in France.
The reason why the official car is a Citroën is that when Charles De Gaulle was president, he escaped an assassination attempt in a Citroën DS – whereafter vowing that the presidency would always use Citroën vehicles.
7/10 Chinese Premier – Hongqi L5
Unlike most Eastern leaders who opt for Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series models, the Chinese premier instead wanted something produced within China. The answer was the Hongqi L5 – the fanciest car sold by a Chinese automaker.
The L5 somewhat resembles a Rolls-Royce but has many unique touches. For instance, there are lots of transparent red accents all over the car, nodding to the flag of China. The L5 is available with a choice of two engines, namely a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 or a 6.0-liter V12.
6/10 Japanese Emperor – Toyota Century
The Toyota Century is the fanciest car produced by any Japanese manufacturer, and it is one of the coolest ultra-luxury cars on the market. The previous model was the only Japanese car ever to feature a V12.
The current Century was introduced in 2018 and features a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 mated to a hybrid drivetrain, sending power to the rear wheels only. The Emperor of Japan has a special version made just for him, with a convertible soft-top roof.
5/10 Monégasque Prince – Lexus LS 600HL Landaulet
Another fancy Japanese limousine is the Lexus LS 600h, the closest one can get to the Toyota Century. Prince Albert of Monaco uses a dark blue one as his official transportation and had another, even more special one made for his wedding.
The LS 600hL Landaulet features an extended wheelbase and a Perspex landaulet roof, giving spectators a view of the occupants without subjecting them to the weather. The plastic roof can be removed if the prince wishes it. It is quite a weird design but does the job.
4/10 Spanish Royal Family – Rolls-Royce Phantom IV
Spain does have a motor industry, but it was bought out by VW and is now under the VW Group umbrella as SEAT – which is mostly rebodied Golfs and Polos. As such, the Spanish royal family uses not one, but two gorgeous 1952 Rolls-Royce Phantom IVs as official state cars.
Both are painted black and have had extensive restoration work done to make them some of the best Phantom IVs in existence. The reason for having two is that one is a hardtop and the other has a convertible soft-top, allowing use in whichever weather the royals want.
3/10 British Royal Family – Bentley Arnage R
The British royal family also owns a Phantom IV, often used by the Queen and is now King Charles III’s favorite official vehicle. The one most used by the Queen was the dark red Bentley Arnage R – a car specifically built for her and the royal family.
Also called the ‘Bentley State Limousine’, the Arnage R features the older 6.75-liter twin-turbo Rolls-Royce–Bentley V8. The body and windows are armored, the car can be hermetically sealed, and the tires are military-grade and Kevlar-reinforced.
2/10 Vatican Pope – Mercedes-Benz ML-Class ‘Popemobile’
While most will know that the Pope is the leader of the Catholic Church, many probably don’t know that he is also the king of Vatican City. The Pope uses many vehicles, usually painted white and with a bulletproof viewing platform on the back.
The most famous of these cars is the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, which the previous Pope used a lot. The current Pope likes the open-top G-Class, as he wants to be closer to the people.
1/10 Uruguayan President – VW Beetle
From massively armored state limousines and specially designed vehicles to serve only one purpose to a humble – and slightly run-down – VW Beetle as a state car. Yes, this was real and was the official transportation of Uruguayan president Jose Mujica – also known as ‘the world’s poorest president’.
Despite the name, Mujica wasn’t actually poor, he just used his money to help his fellow citizens and did many great things to help build the country – including using his own VW Beetle as an official car. He even got an offer of $1 million for his humble Beetle. Apparently, he did auction the car off to buy ten 4-wheel-drive trucks for his country to use.