What Are The Biggest Classic Car Collections?
Many car collections are worth mentioning, but we have listed below the best of the best.
The Sultan of Brunei (Borneo)
The largest private car collection in the world belongs to Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei since 1967. Over the years, he has invested a portion of his vast resources toward purchasing rare, vintage, and high-performance automobiles. His garages are filled with over 7,000 vehicles. Many are exotic cars with a combined worth of over $5 billion.
The Sultan of Brunei’s car collection includes over 600 Rolls Royces and many cars fashioned secretly as one-offs for the ruler or his family. Some of the vehicles are so rare that they are hardly ever glimpsed. (For example, one Rolls Royce Silver Spur II was used for the Sultan’s wedding day, plated from top to bottom in 24 Carat gold).
Other worthy cars in the collection include about 452 Ferrari models, including the ultra-rare Ferarri 250 GTO (like the one that set a 70 million dollar record in 2018). The Sultan owns two of them. He owns 11 F40s (made from 1987 - 92 in honor of the car maker's 40th anniversary). The family has purchased several specially commissioned cars from Ferrari and other automakers, including six Ferrari 456 GT Venice models (a station wagon) and six 1995 FX models.
If you are wondering if you can see the largest private collection in the world, forget it. This vast array of automobiles, trucks, and SUVs is not open to the public, but if you happen to be a tourist in the oil-rich Arab nation, you might just get lucky to snap a picture of one driving by, but we doubt it.
Ralph Lauren (Westchester County, NY)
The fashion icon may have made his mark building a multi-million dollar fashion empire, but he is also known as a premier car collector. Ralph Lauren’s collection is worth about $300 million and includes some of the best vintage vehicles ever made.
Some of the most notable vehicles in the fashion icon’s garage include several examples of rare and exotic vintage vehicles. Under his roof, Lauren has parked a 1955 Jaguar XK120 Alloy Roadster, a 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900, a Ferrari 375 Plus (one of five ever made), and the legendary 1962 Ferarri 250 GT0, which the fashion mogul purchased in 1975 for a paltry $650,000. Today, the car is worth over $70 million.
The most expensive item in Lauren’s garage is the 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe. What is it worth? No one knows what the auction price might be, but most sources indicate that since Laruen’s car is one of only three ever sold to the public, it would fetch more than the $142 million recently paid for a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR in 2022.
Lauren began his collection back in 1971 with the purchase of a Mercedes 280SE convertible. Since then, the fashion mogul’s worth has soared, and so has the number of cars in his collection. The car collection is housed in Westchester County, NY. Some of this collection makes regular public appearances if you want to see any of them. Now and then, Lauren auctions a tour of his garage to raise money for charity.
Jay Leno (Burbank, CA.)
The iconic late-night talk show host has a collection that sparks so much interest there is even a television show about it. His collection has over 300 vehicles worth around $52 - $100 million. While other car collectors prefer exotics, Leno has an affinity for cars from all walks of life, from the average production models to muscle cars, early vintage classics, and everything else.
Jay Leno’s garage houses some rare finds from McLaren, Ferrari, and others, but his most valuable car is a 1934 Duesenberg Walker Coupe, which he bought for $500,000 as an investment. The car is now worth about $20 million. Josiah K. Lilly, heir to the Lilly Pharmaceutical Company, first owned the car. The car changed hands several times before landing in Jay Leno’s garage. (It needed a complete restoration).
One of the other notable examples of Jay Leno’s collection is the Ecojet, a concept car Leno helped design and build with the help of General Motors in 2006. The car was powered by a jet engine, designed to operate on bio-fuels, and was incredibly fast. Its sleek design and impressive speed make it one of his fleet's priceless items.
Jay Leno’s car collection is in a series of hangars in Burbank, CA. If you plan to go check the cars out, you will likely need to be a part of a specially invited group or win a raffle for the tour. Since the collection is held privately, public tours are not given. However, it is not unusual to see Jay Leno riding around Burbank in one of his collectibles now and then.
Ken Lingenfelter (Brighton, MI.)
Ken Lingenfelter, the son of a General Motors executive, made his fortune in the real estate/title insurance business but has always had a passion for automobiles. Over the years, he has amassed an impressive collection of over 250 vehicles with some of the finest examples of muscle cars, Corvettes, and exotics. Lingenfelter also owns a family-run engineering company, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, which he acquired in 2008.
One of Lingenfelter’s prized possessions is the 1953 Supercharged Corvette, one of two so-made Corvettes. Other items include an AMC Gremlin and a 1970 Chevy Chevette with only 9k miles. There are many other vehicles like a ‘63 Split window Corvette, a 1954 Corvette EX-87 Duntov Mule, a 71 Nova, a ‘67 Olds 442 Hardtop, and a ‘73 Opel GT, just to name a few.
While the collection is private, the garage is a favorite spot for charities who need a venue to raise money. Every year, Lingenfelter opens the doors of his collection to offer the public a chance to see the vintage vehicles and raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Gerard Lopez (Luxembourg)
Spanish businessman and entrepreneur Gerard Lopez owns the Lotus F1 racing team and is passionate about motorsports and acquiring cars. His collection is housed outside Luxembourg and includes some of the finest examples of automotive engineering ever developed. Unlike other private collections, Lopez makes his collection available for public showing.
Notable cars in the Lopez impressive car collection are a 1984 Lamborghini Countach QV, a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, and a 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, each worth $350,000 - $500,000.
In all, Lopez is a car collector whose fortune has amassed about 80 plus vehicles with a combined value of $100 million.
Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan (United Arab Emirates)
The late Sheikh was a member of the royal family in Abu Dhabi, and the oil-rich family is worth billions. For most of his life, this 75-year-old ruler has indulged his passion for collecting cars, including asking Mercedes to make seven S-class cars in every rainbow color just to offer them as a wedding present. (The request has earned him the nickname “the Rainbow Shiekh”).
While it is still being determined precisely how many cars he owns, his collection does have over 718 4x4 vehicles (which happens to be a Guinness World Record). There are concept cars, quirky Monster Trucks, and the world’s most hefty SUV (a 35’ long hybrid of a military truck and Jeep Wrangler, with ten wheels and powered by a 600 hp Caterpillar C15 engine that rolls over dunes like a hot knife through butter.
The impressive collection of vintage cars is housed in a specially built metal pyramid in a private compound in the middle of the desert. Now and then, reporters are allowed to photograph and write about some of the Sheikh’s rare cars, but the public is not allowed to view the collection. Estimates allude to the entire collection being worth well over 100 million dollars.
If you want to see some examples of the extensive collection, about 200 are featured in the National Emirates Auto Museum.