Every one of these cars has two things going for it – 1) it’s a luxury automobile, regardless of its era and 2) there’s a neat fact about it that you probably don’t know. So, without further ado – enjoy these neat facts about luxury automobiles. Check them all out!
25.Fastest Speed Recorded on the Autobahn was 268 MPH by Mercedes W125
When you think precision automotive engineering, your probably at least spare a synapse or two for the glories of the German car industry. And when you think speed, you definitely think the Autobahn—those magical highways without hard speed limits, where a man can push his ride to the limit, every time. What you probably don’t know is the long history of absurdly high speeds on the Autobahn.
Case in point: one of the highest recorded speeds on a public roadway was set by a Mercedes Benz W125, which reached 268mph on the Autobahn. In 1938. In an era when telephones were still a novelty, they were outstripping most modern supercars. Kinda makes you think . . .
24.The Cadillac El Dorado had a Mini Bar Built Into the Glove Box
We live in a world in which safety really has become job one. We all see warning labels on mundane products every day—there’s like one in the manual of the device you’re using to read this article. And thanks to a million PSAs we all know not to drink and drive.
However, the 1950s were a very different time, as shows like Mad Men love to remind us. Back then the three martini lunch was a business staple, which may explain why the 1950 Cadillac El Dorado has a mini bar built right into the glove box.
23. India’s Heavy Traffic Forced Audi to Create Special Heavy Use Horns for Indian Drivers
India is one of humanity’s oldest civilizations, and with a lot to be proud of. Did you know that chess, pool, and eye surgery all originated in India? No, no you didn’t—maybe read a book every now and then, champ.
India is ancient, and storied, and very, very crowded. Any news footage of Dili or Kolkata shows the vast traffic jams that dominate urban life in that nation. Traffic jams so vast that when Audi entered the Indian market, they had to redesign their car horns to withstand heavier use. Bear that in mind next time you’re booking a vacation.
22. Daniel Craig Got a Free Aston Martin Just for Playing the Role of James Bond
Bond, James Bond. We’ve all know him, and we all either love him for his heroism, daring-do, sauve approach to live—or we loath him for his barely restrained misogyny. Or both, it can be both, right?
The Bond franchise is a celebration of all things British, and Bond is often sighted driving in his highly customized Aston Martin sportscar. In fact, the Aston Martin is so intertwined with the Bond franchise that the company donated a free car to Daniel Craig just for playing the character. Now that’s a perk if ever there was one!
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21. The Dubai Airport is Full of Abandoned Luxury Sports Cars
The rich may be very different from you and me—but we’re united by our love of supercars. The difference is that the rich can afford them, which feels a little unfair, but . . . anyway, Dubai is a nation filled with rich people, and thus supercars. So much so that the police drive Lamborghini and Porsches. We’re not making that up. Check out our list of the 25 fastest police cars in the world if you still have doubts.
However, due to a quirk of Dubai law, it’s more or less impossible to declare bankruptcy in that country. So what do the (formerly) rich do when it all goes bust? They flee, of course, to points further afield. And they often leave their cars behind them, which is why the long-term parking section at the airport is filled with abandoned supercars. So . . . anyone want to go to Dubai?
20. The Tesla Model S is Test Driven on an Indoor Track
Test driving cars has got to be one of the best jobs out there—whipping around test track evaluating what a new vehicle can do is every motorhead’s dream. Just you, the open road, the wide American sky as you push a newly designed vehicle to the absolute limit . . .
Except that things have changed a bit. For all sorts of reasons, cars are traditionally tested outdoors. This is partially due to emissions, which can be dangerous if they built up in an enclosed space. But thanks to the unique engine styling of the Tesla Model S, which, being electric, has no emissions, it can be tested indoors on an enclosed track. Go figure.
19.A Mercedes Owner Once Blamed The New Car Smell for Causing Him to Wreck
The jokes about the American legal system practically write themselves—suing McDonald’s for making coffee hot? Please. For an even more ridiculous example, Google “the twinkie defense”. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll weep for the future of the species.
Almost as much as you will in this case in point: in 2010 a money manager claimed that he couldn’t possibly be at fault in a wreck he caused, as the aroma of his new Mercedes Benz trigged his sleep apnea and caused him to lose control on the road. New car smell, indeed.
18. Actor Sir. Alec Guinness Predicted James Dean’s Fatal Porsche Accident
Cars are, in many ways, the heart and soul of the 20th century. So it’s fitting that the 20th century’s myth and legend are replete with stories about automobiles, the people who drive them, and the strange, often frightening events that they can bring about.
Case in point: when Hollywood icon James Dean bought a brand new Porsche with the intention of doing some racing. Another Hollywood icon—no less a personage than Sir. Alec Guinness—reportedly said that “he’ll be found dead in it within a week’s time”. This, tragically, came to pass. How did Guinness know? Well, the man played Obi-Wan Kenobi. You be the judge.
17. FDR Considered Using Al Capone’s Confiscated Bullet-proof Limo
The 20s and 30s were a colorful time in the great story of the United States, largely due to Prohibition and the wild parties, rebellious counterculture, and the swinging Jazz age it inspired. And of the incredible epic of Prohibition, few figures loom larger than Al Capone—bootlegger, mafioso, and all around American badass.
Al Capone got taken down, hard, by the IRS—not by Elliot Ness and his Untouchables, despite what Hollywood would tell you. And when he did, the Feds confiscated Capone’s iconic bulletproof limousine. That car would go on to be US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s White House limo. Classy, indeed!
16. Lamborghini Aventador Doors Will Explode Off if the Car is Stuck Upside Down
The first few decades of automotive engineering aside, safety has become an important factor in car design. And we all agree that safety belts, crumple zones, and roll cages are a really important set of features for your ride to have—after all, driving isn’t exactly the safest thing in the world.
So while Volvo may lead the automotive world in its reputation for safety, savvy car lovers know that other companies put time and thought into safety as well. Case in point: supercar designer Lamborghini designed a few of their models, including the Aventador, with on-board explosive charges that will automatically blow the doors off if the car flips over.
15. Lamborghini Offered Help to Enzo Ferrari When Lamborghini Produced Tractors
When you think about it, the world of supercar manufacturing can’t be that big of a community. Odds are good that most of the executives and engineers know each other at least casually, and probably have hilarious and complicated backstories and intriguing relationships that would make for a really great reality show, now that we think about it.
Case in point: a long long time ago a mechanical engineer named Lamborghini approached Italian car magnate Enzo Ferrari about some ways in which Ferrari might improve their vehicles. Enzo sent the man away—at the time, Lamborghini was “famous” for manufacturing tractors and other farm equipment. Thus rebuffed, Lamborghini went on to start his own car company. We’re told they did pretty well.
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14. Maharaja of Alwar Jai Singh Bought 10 Rolls Royces for Garbage Collection Out of Spite
As F. Scott Fitzgerald noted, the very rich are different from you and me . . . in part because they have a lot more money. How much more money? Let us tell you a story.
Jai Singh is a wealthy Indian man who happens to be the Maharaja of Alwar—which just sounds cool; no really, say it out loud. On a routine trip to London, he visited the Rolls-Royce showroom and took a shine to some of the cars. However, the good folks at Rolls-Royce wouldn’t let him testdrive any of their cars. Out of spit, Jai Singh bought ten of them and shipped them home . . . to use for garbage collection. Savage.
13. The BMW M5 Engine is so quiet, its speakers play motor sounds to remind driver it’s running
Ever think about how much work goes into designing an automobile engine? The intricate design considerations, the precision machine, the balance of dreams of the designers and the constraints of the budget?
Well, BMW thinks about engineering, a lot, and they’ve worked some modern miracles. For example, the BMW M5 features an engine so quiet that the speakers actually play fake motor sounds to remind the driver that the vehicle is actually in motion. We’re not sure if that’s necessary, but it does make a statement.
12. BMW had to recall its GPS system due to male drivers complaining about the female voice
Gender stereotypes are tricky stuff. We all know that they’re wrong, but let’s face it. They’re often really, really fun. Women can’t drive! Men never ask for directions! Hilarious.
Well, Danica Patrick’s career certainly slashed the notion that women can’t drive, but what about men and directions? Well, there’s some truth to that one. BMW (them again) had to recall a standard GPS system from some of their cars. Not due to any technical flaw, but the voice of the machine had to change. Apparently the female voice was off-putting to male drives, who were reluctant to take directions from a woman. We’ll let you unpack that one on your own.
11. The Bugatti Veyron gets roughly 2 miles to the gallon
Supercars are studies in excess—no one, no matter how rich, actually needs one. What? You need a carbon-fiber moncote body with a NASA grade engine to go to your cubicle every morning? Stop dreaming and get to work.
So, it stands to reason that if you’re rich enough to afford a supercar, you’re likely not worried about the price of gas—which is a really good thing in some cases. We’ve done the math, and at its top speed of 254 miles-per-hour, the Bugatti Veyron can empty its 26 gallon tank in just over 10 minutes. Doing a bit more math, that comes out to just over 2 miles-per-gallon.
10. Batman’s Lamborghini May Have Been Chosen For The Name Itself
Car names are odd stuff. Some of them are chosen at random, some cars are named after people or places, some are random collections of syllables generated by a computer. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to it, now that we think it through, so it’s probably just best to accept it as it is and not worry about the hows and ways of the Volkswagen Touareg.
However, folks who buy cars can often use the names as part of an in-joke – as countless custom license plates can attest. A slightly more high speed version: the Lamborghini driven by Batman in the Christopher Nolan trilogy is a model known as the Murcielago—a word that means “bat” in Spanish. Well played, Nolan.
9. Dubai’s Police Force Has a Fleet of Luxury Supercars
We’ve mentioned Dubai before. The tiny Gulf state has, over the last century, accrued a huge amount of wealth from its oil reserves and subsequently managed to parlay that into even more wealth as a shipping port, business and investment center, and off-shore tax haven for the obscenely rich and famous.
So the rich love their luxury cars, as this list shows aplenty. And they speed down the streets of Dubai, enjoying the raw power of their vehicles—until they get pulled over by the Dubai police and their fleet of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys, and other supercars specifically chosen to catch speeders in ultra-fast cars.
8. US Car Import Laws Caused Bill Gates’ Porsche 959 to Sit in Impound for 10 Years
There’s a huge international trade in automobiles—Japan reinvigorated its post-war economy in part by making and selling affordable, economical cars with great reliability. Germany’s car exports are legendary, and even Turkey—yes, Turkey—has a blooming automotive industry which has propelled its economy into the top 20 worldwide.
However, laws about importing cars aren’t always so helpful, particularly in the United States: land of the free, home of the brave headquarters of the world’s craziest bureaucracy. Even the rich aren’t immune. Bill Gates imported a Porsche 959 supercar long before they were street legal. The poor car sat in impound for a decade until the law changed.
7.The Aston Martin Used in James Bond Had a 3-D Model Made To Protect the Original
We’ve talked about James Bond and his love of Aston Martins, and how that character trait has spilled over into the relationship between the Bond franchise and Aston Martin as a company. And hey, that’s great—who doesn’t want a free Aston Martin? We’re not turning it down, if the folks at A-M are reading this by chance.
Well, just because they were free doesn’t mean that people don’t treasure the gift. For the Bond film Skyfall, the Aston Martin used in the action scenes was 3D printed model so as to not risk damaging the original. Protecting a legendary car while making a legendary film francise? Now that’s classy!
6. A UK Businessman Used His Aston Martin To Execute a Grisly Suicide
Aston Martin’s cars are classy, high performing, and so superbly British that the Uk’s greatest hero drives them almost exclusively. However, like all icons, there’s are dark places to the Aston Martin’s history. Dark, scary places: consider this a content warning.
UK businessman Gerald Mellin’s life wasn’t going so well. We’re short on details, but even the wealthy have their demons. Sadly, Mellin decided to deal with his by tying a rope around a tree and the other end around his neck before driving away at a high speed in his Aston Martin. Rest in Peace, Mr. Mellin, at least you checked out in a true luxury ride.
5. Buyers of the Ferrari FXX Can’t Even Keep the Car
We’re not sure if you’re picking up on this, dear reader, but the world of luxury vehicles and supercars is a bit silly at times. Again, it’s all about excess: superior performance and absolutely over the top consumption by folks who can burn money faster than we could make it—and never miss a dime.
To that end, we bring in the Ferrari FXX: a supercar with a storied racing pedigree and a stunning 2 million Euro pricetag—that’s just shy of $2.1 million US. A huge chunk of change, yes—but here’s the kicker: you don’t get to keep the car. Nope, you really don’t. Ferrari brings it to a racetrack for you to use, you drive it, and they pack it up. They’ll bring it back if you want it again.
4. The Ferrari Engine Noise Replicates Musical Chords
Some vehicles have iconic sounds associated with them. For example, Harley Davidson has tried several times to patent the unique sound their motorcycles make during operation—but how can you patent such a unique piece of Americana? Not to be outdone, the folks at Ferrari took an even higher road and designed their engine intakes to sound like a musical chord—specifically the 3rd and 6th harmonics on the scale. So when a Ferrari blows past you on the road, take a moment and savor the sound—it’s a musical composition, and therefor art, in its own right.
3. A Tragic Crash at the 1955 Le Mans 24 Led to the Death of 84 People
The Le Mans 24 is a legendary automobile race, with a rather unique premise: rather than a race to the finish line, it’s a timed speed test: how many laps can you complete in 24 hours? Teams from all over the world compete, and every major European automaker is represented by their factory squad.
However, even in exciting events like this, tragedy can strike. On June 11th, 1955, a crash between a Mercedes and a Jaguar leapt the track and into the stands, killing 84 people when all was said and done. Mercedes withdrew from the race, but Jaguar refused—their team went on to win the title that year.
2. Alfa Romeo’s Iconic Logo Has an Interesting Story Behind It
Alfa Romeo is an Italian automaker who has been in the game since the very beginning—June 24th, 1910 to be precise. At well as over a century in the business, Alfa Romeo’s cars have won titles, carried passengers ranging from families to government officials, served as police and military cars, and done more than their share to advance the technology on which cars rely.
Born in the historic city of Milan, Alfa Romeo’s logo combines some heraldic devices associated with its birthplace—including a snake wearing a crown swallowing a human figure. We’re told the poor dude in question is a foreign invader. Alfa Romeo’s more hardcore than we thought.
1. Lamborghini Donated a Customized Gallardo LP560-4 to the Italian Police Force
Lamborghini is a maker of luxury and supercars, but they have humble roots. The company’s founder was a working-class guy with a background in making farm equipment when he decided to make the leap into automobiles. While highly successful, as a company Lamborghini has never forgotten its roots or its obligation to the communities in which it is based—or to Italy as a whole.
Thus, in 2008 Lamborghini donated a Gallardo LP560-4 to the Italian state police. Carrying a host of custom features, it was the fastest police car in the world . . . until it crashed about a year later, totaling the vehicle.