Power almost always goes hand-in-hand with wealth, regardless of the setting. Whether it's business, politics, or religion, even within the community, the most powerful and influential people seem to attract riches and wealth to themselves. However, this power doesn’t necessarily mean that which is exerted over a populace or over resources, but it's more like a tool to help people make a difference and shape the world. There are those who use their power and influence for the good of others, and the extreme is those who use it to exploit instead, so our list has a mix of both. But good and bad can be relative depending on the eyes of the beholder.
For a long time, Forbes has churned out lists of the top world influencers and the most powerful, and there are those whose names are hardly ever missed. From media personalities to presidents, musicians, actors/actresses, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, techies, and many more, these people continue to influence others not just in how they think and do things but also what they do with their money, like where they live, what they eat, their fashion tastes, and most importantly, their cars. By now you probably can guess about five or so names that cannot be missed on the list of the most powerful people in the world, but you’re also probably not sure what they drive these days. Just so you know, because they’re VVIPs, their cars are customized and fitted with unique security accessories and comfortable amenities that aren’t found in ordinary vehicles. Let’s dive in!
25 Oprah Winfrey - Tesla Model S
“You get a car!” At some point in time, Oprah Winfrey, a media mogul and talk show host, was known for surprising members of her TV audiences with cars. You never really knew when you were going to be in that special show, but those who were left with a brand new car, whether or not they could actually drive. Oprah’s lifestyle matches her bank account, from her many multi-million dollar homes to her favorite things and her expensive cars.
If you're an avid Oprah follower, then you know about her newly acquired white Tesla Model S, which she gushes about on her Instagram page.
But that’s not the only car she’s had. Her daily drive is usually a black SUV, but previously, she’s had other cars, among them, classics like her 1996 Bentley Azure, a 1956 red Ford Thunderbird, and a red Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing.
24 Madonna - Jaguar XJ
This chick doesn’t get old! If you lived through the '80s, then you know Madonna Louise Ciccone, aka the "Queen of Pop" or "Madge," ruled the airwaves in what was a male-dominated music scene. The ‘Like a Virgin’ pop singer became a sensation and churned hit after hit, topping Billboard charts year on year. This shot her up the ranks of the rich and famous people in the world, and today, she’s the most powerful and wealthiest female musician on the planet. With a net worth of about $800 million, Madonna spoils herself with clothes, shoes, New York real estate, fine art, and cars. She had a black Mini Cooper S worth $40,000, but she also has a black Jaguar XJ, a Maybach 57, an Audi A8, and a BMW 7 Series.
23 Bill Gates - Porsche
Is there any material thing on Earth that Bill Gates couldn’t possibly afford? He’s been the #1 richest man in the world four times in a row! His daily routine is nothing out of the ordinary, as it involves working out on the treadmill, a game of tennis or bridge, reading, and a bowl of chocolate cereal Cocoa Puffs or a cheeseburger. But what does the richest man alive drive?
Gates has a Porsche collection including a 911, a 930, and one out of only 337 rare Porsche 959s ever produced.
The 959 is super special to him not just because he paid a hefty $1m for it but also because he even sought for the ‘Show and Display’ law to be passed just for this model. After a ten-year wait, he finally got the car, which goes from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds has a top speed of 195 mph.
22 Michael Jordan - Extensive Car Collection
His Royal Airness has a net worth of $1 billion and counting. While he may not be the richest man on the planet, he's made the Forbes list of the richest people in the world and the top ten richest black billionaires worldwide for two years straight. Jordan—arguably the greatest basketball player of all time—made his wealth from endorsements, an elite line of basketball shoes, several restaurants, a car dealership, and ownership of the Charlotte Hornets team in the NBA, and this made him the first-ever billion-dollar athlete in the world. The 54-year-old gearhead drives a Cadillac XLR but has had Corvettes, Porsches (911, 930, 964, and 993) Ferraris in his collection, some of which he didn’t keep or drive for long. Others include a Bentley Continental GT Coupe and a 1993 Corvette ZR-1, both of which he sold to a Volvo Auto Museum in Illinois, and a limited edition Mercedes SLR 722.
21 Beyoncé - 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud
This lady is the epitome of girl power and the envy of millions of women and young girls across the world. As one of the richest musicians worldwide, it’s no surprise, then, that she owns some of the most outrageously expensive supercars. If you compare her hubby’s Pagani Zonda F and Bugatti Veyron (which she got him for his 41st birthday) with her cars, hers may not match up.
Beyoncé drives a Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR, one out of only 3,500 ever produced, making it a rare and elite car.
Her vintage 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud was a gift from Jay-Z for her 25th birthday. This luxurious car has a fine blue leather interior with custom embroidery, making it a car that befits the Queen B herself. Together, they have a family van, a Mercedes Benz Sprinter Limo, which has Direct TV, WiFi, a full bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower, and a $150,000 stereo system.
20 Mark Zuckerberg - Honda Fit, Golf GTi, Acura
By the time you hit billionaire status, you’ve probably tried everything in the world, and nothing seems to be exciting anymore. That would be true if you’re more than 80 years old–but not Zuckerberg.
The Facebook creator is just 34 years old and has a net worth of over $70 billion, making him the fifth richest person alive!
But what does he do with his cash? He gets a Honda Fit, a Volkswagen Golf GTi, and an Acura! Grrrrr. This guy can buy any fancy and super fast car he wants, but he chooses the ordinary cars that fill up the traffic on weekdays. But wait—he has an Italian-made, two-seater Pagani Huayra sports car worth $1.3 million, which he paid for, apparently. This is probably the jewel in his car collection, as it comes with a 6-liter V12 engine and 720 horsepower–totally worth the spend.
19 Tiger Woods - Mercedes S65 AMG
The most recent thing we all remember about Tiger Woods and cars is when he was arrested in Jupiter, Florida after being found in his 2015 Mercedes S65 AMG. Woods was suspected of driving under the influence, but the car had taken quite a beating before he got picked up by the cops that night. The huge black luxury sedan has a V12 6-liter twin-turbo engine with 621 horsepower, so you can imagine that when Woods was driving such a powerhouse when under the influence, the vehicle definitely took some damage, though Woods didn’t seem too bothered about it. The front tires were torn, and the alloy wheels were badly bent and flat—really ugly for such a car. Well, he may have all the money to get a replacement, but he really could’ve gotten a designated driver instead.
18 Pope Francis - Mercedes, Jeep Wrangler, Hyundai Santa Fe
The leader of the Catholic faith values humility above everything else. Each time he travels, he’s driven in the famous Popemobile, which has been changed over the years, but the brand that always gets the job is Mercedes (though he’s had a Jeep Wrangler and a Hyundai Santa Fe). What shocked the world is when Lamborghini presented him with a special Huracan created just for him but he chose to auction it with proceeds going to the Pontifical Foundation–so kind of him. He said it hurts when he sees a priest or nun with the latest model car, adding that if members of the Church must choose a vehicle, it should be a humble one–like the black boxy Kia Soul he used to go around South Korea. His daily drive is a little blue 2008 Ford Focus hatchback, which he used when he met President Donald Trump, who was chauffeured in The Beast and was accompanied by a security motorcade.
17 Warren Buffett - Cadillac
Buffett, aka the ‘Oracle of Omaha,’ has a net worth that’s currently at over $93 billion. So rich is he that he made in a day what Hollywood’s highest earner made in all of 2013—$37 million. His first try at investment was at 11 years of age when he bought his first stock, and since then, his company—Berkshire Hathaway–has grown to own over sixty companies, including GM Motors, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, Duracell, Goldman Sachs, and Geico.
For a guy who gives out 99 percent of his wealth to charity, Buffett can drive absolutely any car he so wishes, but he’s settled for a Cadillac XTS, which he upgraded from a 2006 Cadillac DTS.
He doesn’t buy cars very often. In fact, the new Caddy was bought after a GM executive convinced him that it was a better model than his old one–so he sent his daughter Susie to pick one up.
16 Timothy Cook - BMW 5 Series
Cook took over the reins of power at the most valuable company in the world, Apple, upon founder Steve Job’s demise. The company, which is now worth over $640 billion, recently upped his salary by 46 percent, so now, he takes home a little over $12 million, because under his direction, Apple has experienced its best years yet. But even with such a hefty salary, Cook has a simple lifestyle, buying groceries from Whole Foods, wearing simple Nike sneakers, and driving himself in either a BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes. His first sports car was a Porsche Boxster. He’s not too much of a show off for a man who churns out the best tech gadgets in the world, but he does have great taste in cars for a business executive of his rank.
15 Mary Barra - Corvette Z06
Barra, the Chair and first female CEO of General Motors Company, can be described as the real Iron Lady. As one of Forbes’s most powerful women five times in a row and Time’s 100 most influential people in the world, Barra not only leads the world’s top automaker but is also a lover of cars in every sense of the word. That shouldn't be a surprise, as her daily nine-to-five revolves around cars, and she's worked at GM from the age of 18 as a co-op student. Her father also worked as a die maker for 39 years at Pontiac, probably where she picked up her love of cars. With all the choices around her, Barra settled for a black 2015 Corvette Z06–a 7-speed manual gearbox and the most potent one ever built. She calls it ‘The Beast.’ Otherwise, her favorite cars are the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird.
14 Benjamin Netanyahu - Audi A8
Netanyahu, the ninth Prime Minister of Israel, leads one of the world’s smallest nations (in size) but wields more power than other leaders. He's been hailed for his job on Israel’s economy and technological and medical advancements, plus his leadership is unlike those of other Israeli leaders' from past regimes.
His security is of top concern wherever he goes because it's important to protect him from Israel’s enemies. This is why the state purchased a long-wheelbase Audi A8L for him at a cost of $1 million.
It comes with a 6-liter W12 engine that produces 444 horsepower and has a fridge, a humidor, and a DVD player inside. The car is modified in secret due to security concerns but is said to include full ballistics protection with bulletproof tires, an independent oxygen supply, and explosives meant to blow the doors if they’re jammed by shockwaves.
13 Phil Knight - Audi R8 FSI Quattro
From a $50 note borrowed from his father, Knight, the co-founder and chairman emeritus of Nike, turned his little idea into a multi-billion dollar business empire. Forbes ranks him as the 28th richest person worldwide with a net worth of about 30 billion dollars. With all this money, Knight doesn’t seem bothered about the latest and most expensive luxury supercars in the automotive market. Instead, he chose to go with his 2011 Audi R8 FSI Quattro, which cost him about $120,000. The car is stunning, has a 10-cylinder, 5.2-liter engine mated to a manual gearbox, and produces 430 Nm torque, so you get both speed and a smooth drive all in one car. Maybe we could all do with the humility of this man; otherwise, if left to ourselves, we’d spoil ourselves broke!
12 Carlos Slim Helu - Bentley Continental
Slim is a Mexican billionaire and the founder of America Movil and Grupo Carso companies. He's the richest man in Mexico with over 200 companies in the country under the Slimlandia conglomerate. He's also known as one of the richest self-made people worldwide, with interests in financial companies, telco, media, consumer goods, construction, mining, and industrial sectors of the economy. Like Buffett, this savvy investor buys stakes in different companies, including the New York Times, which he owns a 17 percent stake.
With a net worth of $71.7 billion, Slim can afford a chauffeur, but he loves to drive himself.
His great car collection includes a black Mercedes and an ultra-luxury Bentley Continental Flying Spur. His latest venture involves making the first Mexican-made electric cars.
11 Theresa May - BMW 7 Series
Most people know Theresa May as UK’s Prime Minister, but she goes by many other names like "The Steel Lady" or "Auntie May" to the Chinese. What doesn’t get told about her often, though, is her love for hiking, cricket, and cooking. She’s also a lover of fine clothing and distinctive shoes. As Forbes’s second most powerful woman in the world, May’s security is of importance to the Brits, which is why she had to give up her BMW 7 Series as she took over the PM role—out with the BMW, in with the Jaguar XJ Sentinel. This 5-liter V8 engine car is built with an aluminum body and top-level security features, such as ballistic and blast protection for explosives, reinforced polycarbonate glass windows, an independent oxygen supply, and dispersants in case of a bio-weapon or chemical attacks.
10 Ivanka Trump - Suburban
If she’s not heading for a high-profile meeting or touching up her makeup at the back-left seat on her way to work, Ivanka Trump, America’s first daughter, is probably with her hubby and her kids at home or on vacay. Ivanka, who's also President Donald Trump’s advisor, has been spotted getting into or leaving in a silver or blacked-out Chevy Suburban SUV on many occasions, with Secret Service agents by her side.
The Suburban is a full-size SUV fitted with three rows of seats, a massive cargo area, and a large 6-liter V8 engine.
The car is very intimidating when you come across it and is usually part of a convoy that takes Ivanka to and from work. And sometimes, when she’s too tired to walk two blocks away to get to her destination, she orders for it to pick her up and save her the energy–oh wow.
9 Taylor Swift - Mercedes-Benz Viano
If her songs are anything to go by, then this girl really loves cars. Her Reputation album has a track called Getaway Car, in which she leaves her guy for another guy’s car and says ‘nothing good starts in a getaway car.’ Her songs have more mentions of cars, so it seems she gives much importance to them.
From her first paycheck, she bought a Lexus, and when she first signed with her label, she splurged on a pink Chevy pickup truck.
Her taste for cars isn't like that of your ordinary girl-next-door type, as she's also had a Toyota Sequoia, but her daily drive is a Mercedes-Benz Viano. She’s also been spotted with her bae, Taylor Lautner, cruising in her white Audi R8 sports car on several occasions.
8 Lakshmi Mittal - Rolls-Royce EWB Phantom
At just 67 years old, Mittal, aka the "Carnegie of Calcutta," has engaged in more exploits than many other entrepreneurs across the world with his company, ArcelorMittal, being the biggest steelmaker in the world. His family has also been in the steel business, and after breaking off from the family business, he started Mittal Steel, then merged with Arcelor–a French firm–to form ArcelorMittal in 2006. Since then, he's risen to become one of the world’s most powerful and richest men, with a net worth of about $20.4 billion. The lacto-vegetarian has prime properties at Kensington Palace Gardens, has been named the wealthiest man in Britain, and has strong ties to top personalities, such as Nicolas Sarkozy, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair, among others. With all this wealth to his name, Mittal rides in some of the poshest cars, including a tw0-seater Porsche Boxster, a Bentley Arnage, and a Rolls-Royce EWB Phantom–perfect for a rich and powerful CEO.
7 J.K. Rowling - Rolls-Royce Phantom
Rowling is currently the world’s highest-paid author, according to a Forbes 2017 list, beating top names like Dan Brown, Stephen King, John Grisham, and Danielle Steel, among others. With a huge net worth, Rowling, who claims she lives a mundane life, still loves going on luxury holidays like cruising to the Galapagos, Mauritius, or a beachfront house at the Hamptons. From a simple storybook series, Harry Potter, this female author has grown her wealth to levels she wouldn’t have imagined at the time she started, especially after being rejected by many publishers. Her life now is a stark difference from her initial struggles, when she survived on weekly meager benefits and lived in a mice-infested flat as a single parent with her daughter Jessica. Now married, Rowling lives in million-dollar mansions and rides in a Rolls-Royce Phantom or her Range Rover when traveling by road.
6 Tsai Ing-wen
Her name may not be the easiest to pronounce or remember, but her title has her on the list of the world’s most powerful people. Tsai is the president of Taiwan, which means her security is a top priority for the citizens. Previously, she traveled in an Audi A8 L, comfortable but not secure enough for a president. So, the national security bureau applied to get her a top model Audi A8 L Security for $828,000– a tough armored car—though you wouldn’t notice its safety levels just by looking at it.
It's built with a bulletproof and shrapnel-proof steel body, aramid fabrics, bulletproof windows that are 10 centimeters thick, special aluminum alloys.
In case of a bio attack, the car has a built-in life support system, an oxygen generator, a fire extinguisher, plus an intercom to communicate with people on the outside.
5 Larry Page - Tesla Roadster
Larry was born into computers and for computers. His dad was a computer science geek described as a pioneer in computer science and AI, while his mom was a computer programming instructor, so even if he had a choice, there was just no escaping it. By six years old, Larry could play with first-generation personal computers the folks left around him. This atmosphere fostered Page’s creativity and innovation, and today, his inner genius has led him to invest in Kitty Hawk Flyer–an electric flying car meant for personal flight. But what does he personally drive when on the roads? Larry’s car collection includes a Toyota Prius and a Tesla Roadster, which has an electric motor on the chassis of a Lotus Elise and can go from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds plus travel up to 393 kilometers on a single charge.
4 Aliko Dangote - Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG
For the seventh time in a row, Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has been named Africa’s richest man with a net worth of about $12.2 billion. Dangote’s wealth comes from his multiple business ventures under the Dangote Group of companies, and he also invests in the simple stuff like cement manufacturing, food processing, and freight. He also owns a sugar refinery and salt and flour mills. Plus he has a company that's a major importer of fertilizer, pasta, cement, rice, and fish. In return, the company exports cashew nuts, cocoa, ginger, cotton, and sesame seed to different countries in the world. If that’s not enough, Dangote has invested in banking, real estate, textiles, oil, and gas and is now into Telcos. His investment plate is as full as his garage where he keeps his car collection that includes a Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG, a Bugatti Veyron, a Bentley Mulsanne, and a Maybach 57S Knight Luxury.
3 Donald Trump - Rolls-Royce Phantom
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is the leader of the free world and the superpower America. Before he took over from former POTUS Barack Obama, Trump was known more for his businesses and the famous Trump Tower, but from a recent interview with Reuters, he gushes more about his cars and how he really misses driving. Since he got into the Oval, Trump has been chauffeured in a Cadillac limo aka "The Beast." This machine has been hailed for its state-of-the-art security features, most of which remain classified, but it has everything he needs to stay safe from any potential attacks.
Trump previously owned a Ferrari F430 F1 Coupe, a 1998 Cadillac Trump Golden Series Limo, and a 1998 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster, which were sold.
When he drove himself around, he’d get into his 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, his Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, or his 2015 Rolls-Royce Phantom, which he drove regularly just before assuming office.
2 Vladimir Putin
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin may not be everyone’s BFF right now because his decisions have gained him more enemies than friends, so he definitely needs a car that will assure him of protection. His car is heavily guarded, highly sophisticated, and super fast. In fact, it’s been described as an out-of-this-world machine, better than The Beast that carries America’s Trump today.
Its features include oxygen supply, doors that are 10 times thicker than ordinary ones, and a bullet- and rocket-proof build.
Once he’s inside it, not even a bomb or poisonous gas can reach him–the stuff of movies, really. The vehicle is said to be 99 percent safe, so any attacker would have to wait till he gets out to pounce on him. Even better, the car can turn itself in the opposite direction in case the driver is attacked–too cool! It comes with a 7.7-liter engine and a top speed of 125 mph.
1 Queen Elizabeth II - Bentley Bentayga
Her royal highness, the Queen of England, can shame many ladies who don’t want to learn how to drive and instead prefer to get a driver for themselves. Queen Elizabeth has been spotted on some occasions getting behind the wheel, the most recent being in her green Bentley Mulsanne after a Church service, and cruising through Windsor Park. Even though she doesn’t need to drive, she still drives whenever she feels like. Her love for cars began during the Cold War when she was with the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service as a driver and mechanic. Her car collection includes her new Bentley Bentayga, three Rolls-Royces, and three Daimlers parked in Royal Mews at the Buckingham Palace. Others include a 2001 Jaguar Daimler V8 Super LWB, a 2015 Range Rover LWB Landaulet, and a 2002 Land Rover Defender.
Sources: dailymail.co.uk, theindependent.co.uk, cnbc.com