Despite all of the controversy and woes surrounding Michael Jackson toward the end of his life, for many people, he will always be remembered, first and foremost, as the King of Pop. His music lives on today and he is still one of the best-selling musicians of all time and is regarded as one of the greatest entertainers of all time. He had an interesting life, to say the least, as the eighth child of the Jackson family.
His groundbreaking music videos of the 1980s, such as “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller” (all from the Thriller album) transformed the medium of music videos into an art form. With 350 million records sold worldwide, he is the third best-selling recording artist of all time, behind only The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Even after he passed away in 2009, he was still huge: in 2016 his estate earned $825 million, the highest yearly amount ever recorded by Forbes!
One of the eclectic things about his life was his home near Santa Ynez, Calfornia, dubbed Neverland Ranch. He purchased the 2,700-acre property in 1988 for $17 million and installed it with several carnivals, rides, Ferris wheels, a zoo, and movie theater. Included at Neverland Ranch was Michael’s car collection, which had grown over the years.
In 2009, to pay off the many debts he owed, many of his most cherished possessions were sold, including some of his strange, odd cars, which had been kept from the public eye until the auction. The automobiles he used on Neverland Ranch included a horse-drawn carriage, a fire truck, a Peter Pan golf cart, and more.
Let's take a look at 14 cars owned by Michael Jackson, and 6 he should have owned (from his music videos and elsewhere).
These limousines were huge in the 1990s. They still are huge, obviously—huge and expensive. The 1990 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur was a perfect ride for a star like Michael Jackson to get around in. It offered the combination of white leather and black fabric, made with the best materials, of course. It had tinted windows and white curtains, in case that wasn’t enough. Plus, it came with a full-service bar included. Under the hood was a 6.75-liter V8 engine paired with 4-speed automatic transmission. Nowadays, you can get one of these at auction for about $30,000 to $50,000, which isn’t much considering the style points you’ll have.
The vintage, classic Cadillac Fleetwood has a pretty popular history behind it: this was the car used for the filming of Driving Miss Daisy in 1989. Its engine was a 331 CID V8 that used an overhead valve design and gave the car 230 horsepower (quite a lot in those days). According to Hagerty.com, these cars are worth about $35,000 in excellent condition, though the original MSRP was just $5,875 back in the 1950s. Michael wanted this special edition car because he loved the movie, Driving Miss Daisy. He was in good company: Elvis Presley also owned a 1950s Fleetwood.
Michael Jackson certainly knew how to get around in style and comfort, which makes sense considering how often he was touring and on the road. He liked to bring all the luxury and comfort he had at his house on the road with him, so he purchased this 1997 Neoplan Touring Bus and equipped it with all his needs. It came with individual seats and booths, a carpet with embroidered king’s crowns. This was the bus he used for the HIStory World Tour. It also had a full-size bathroom—the sink was made of gold plating, and the countertops were granite and porcelain.
This might be one of the least likely cars belonging to Michael Jackson, but he owned one. Between the 1980s and 90s, it seemed everyone had a Jimmy. During that time, GM developed two SUVs, the Blazer and the Jimmy, which were sold under the Chevrolet brand since 1982. Both vehicles were very similar, with a front engine, rear traction, and a long chassis in the front. It might be strange that someone like Michael Jackson would own a rugged car like the Jimmy High Sierra Classic, but he really liked big vehicles, and the Jimmy was a favorite, so it sort of makes sense.
Another 1988 vehicle Michael Jackson owned was a white Lincoln Town Car limousine. Unlike the Rolls-Royce limo, though, this one pretty much came standard with gray leather, a fabric interior, and walnut paneling. It ran on a standard 5.0-liter engine that didn’t get too much power, but allowed him to cruise around town in style. It’s clear Michael loved limos, because the spacious interior and comfort made everything nice and quiet. Today, a regular 1988 Lincoln Town Car is only worth about $11,500 in perfect condition, though this limo might be worth about twice that. Or ten times that, if it actually belonged to Michael himself!
Michael Jackson’s 1993 Ford Econoline van was fully customized to his specifications, complete with a TV located in front of the front passenger seats (back when pretty much zero cars had TVs inside them), a game console, leather seats, high-end leather upholstery, and more. The game console inside this van belongs to a museum today. This was another vehicle that was a matter of luxury and comfort, but also it allowed him to move around the city undetected, allowing him to stay anonymous while completing his busy daily schedule. This model had a 4.9-liter V6 engine paired with a four-speed automatic.
Like most vehicles Michael owned, his 2001 Harley-Davidson Touring bike was customized, in this case with police trim. While that sounds very illegal (and probably is, if you were to drive it around in public, you’d probably get charged with impersonating a police officer), Michael was a special case. Michael had a huge love for smaller vehicles, including two-wheeled ones, so this Harley—complete with sirens and police lights—is right in his wheelhouse. This purchase ended up being another impulsive buy, because Michael never even used it. It ran on a V2 engine with a five-speed gearbox that had an output of 67 horsepower.
With Michael’s 1909 Detamble Model B replica, we start to delve into the “weird” category of his car collection. If this weren’t a replica, it would be worth lots of money, but that’s not the case. This car was really something that he would drive around Neverland Ranch, rather than on actual streets (it might not have even been street legal, come to think of it). The exact details of this car are a bit lacking, other than that it ran with some kind of internal combustion engine, and it was full-size and actually ran. It was eventually sold at auction along with some of his other cars, like the 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood and his fire truck.
For most of his daily rides, Michael Jackson chose to ride around in his 1985 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL. Starting in 1985, he’d use this car to travel from his Encino home to his Los Angels studio, 19 miles away. In 1988, he changed his home to the fantasy land estate, Neverland Ranch, in Los Olivos and his Mercedes went with him. It was probably his favorite car—or at least his most frequently used. He drove this car for a whole decade, never getting tired of it! That’s saying something when you consider who we’re talking about here. It was sold for $100,000 at Julien’s Auction’s “Music Icons” in 2009.
The interior of Michael Jackson’s 1999 Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph was exquisite and worthy of a king, even if that king was the King of Pop. It was plated in 24-carat gold and crystal, like the palace of Versailles, and the car was designed exclusively by Michael himself, and the interior was lavishly decorated by some of the best designers in the field. It was powered by a 5.4-liter V12 that produced 321 horsepower, so this car could really get some giddy-up. This car has become one of the most iconic cars in Michael’s collection, due to the amount of luxury and money that went into completing it.
Another one of the strangest cars in Michael Jackon’s collection was this old-timey looking fire truck, that was actually a 1986 GMC High Sierra 3500. As mentioned earlier, Michael was a big fan of big cars so this car fit perfectly in his garage at Neverland Ranch. This customized vehicle was converted into a fire truck at Michael’s behest, and it came complete with all the accoutrements: water tank, fire hose, and flashing red lights. Michael had said in interviews that he felt like Peter Pan, so it’s not surprising that he’d own a literal fire truck in his collection.
This car was certainly something that would have been a bit hit at Michael’s Neverland Ranch. It was a black Dodge Viper mini-car with Simpsons decorations all over it, including a stencil of Bart on the passenger seat leather and hood, Sideshow Bob on the side of the car, Ned Flanders and Apu also on the side, and Maggie on the passenger seatback. Since this wasn’t street legal and was half the size of a real car, its only place was at Neverland Ranch, where it was probably a big hit with the kids. Much more than that is not known about the “car.”
Topping the list of weird vehicles in Michael Jackson’s collection was his Neverland Ranch electrified horse-drawn carriage. It’s well known that Michael often thought of himself as a kid, or at least someone with Peter Pan syndrome (never growing up), and this horse-drawn carriage would have been perfect at Neverland to complete the fairytale atmosphere. In 2009, Michael sadly had to sell about 2,000 of his most cherished possessions in order to pay off his many debts, and the horse-drawn carriage was included in that auction at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills. This Montana Carriage Company carriage was black and red and came with a CD player in speakers. It sold for between $6,000 to $,8000.
We might have spoken too soon when mentioning the weirdest vehicles Michael owned. If it isn’t the horse-drawn carriage that takes the cake, it’s certainly this black golf cart that he used around Neverland Ranch. And the reason it was so strange was that, on the hood, a self-stylized version of himself as Peter Pan was painted. It also came with other child-like illustrations (it’s not clear if he made the illustrations himself). This also sold as part of the huge Julien Auction in 2009, and it fetched between $4,000 and $6,000, which is quite a lot for a golf car! That's probably because it’s so legendary—and it’s quite obvious who it belonged to.
Michael Jackson often said that Japan was one of his favorite places to visit and play shows, with one of his most loyal fan bases. That why, following his acquittal in 2005, he chose Japan to host his first public appearance. He even once had a contract with Suzuki Motorcycles, in 1981, when the music sensation joined up with Suzuki to promote their new line of scooters. The moped, branded the “Suzuki Love” came out at a time when Michael was at the top of his fame, with “Thriller” coming out the very next year. In one of the commercials, we see Michael dancing alongside the scooter.
Almost every kid dreams of owning a Ferrari at one point in their life. It would totally make sense for Michael Jackson to have owned this 1986 Ferrari Testarossa, considering he had the opportunity to drive it. He drove it during one of his Pepsi commercials. However, the experience wasn’t a pleasant one. During a part in the commercial, Michael had to dance on stage accompanied by pyrotechnic explosions. Due to a timing error, Michael’s hair caught fire and he got third-degree burns. In the second part of the ad (which Michael continued after a lawsuit), he drove a Ferrari Testarossa Spider as a getaway car. It was actually the only Testarossa Spider made, and it sold in 2017 for $800,000!
Back in the early 2000s, despite all the problems surrounding Michael’s personal and physical life, he was as popular as ever. In 2001, the singer came out with “You Rock My World,” which was from his 10th and last studio album. The album was a chart topper worldwide, and this song was one of his last hit singles, making it into the Billboard’s Top 10. It was a 13-and-a-half minute video, and included other celebrities too, like Chris Tucker and Marlon Brando. At one point in the video, we see a convertible 1964 Cadillac DeVille in the foreground where Michael is eating at a Chinese restaurant. The car foreshadowed the gangsters Michael encountered in the rest of the video.
When you’re talking about weird cars, it doesn’t get much weirder than this one! It seems like the perfect Michael Jackson-mobile, even though he never actually owned one. In 1988, with the release of “Smooth Criminal,” the pop star uses a wish upon a magic star to transform into a futuristic, flying Lancia Stratos Zero. “Smooth Criminal” was a 40-minute video, though the song was only about 10 minutes long. The space-age car was created by Bertone, an Italian carmaker, in 1970. In the video, the aerodynamic Stratos Zero and the sound effects of a roaring engine help Michael escape from gangsters.
The BMW Isetta is often considered one of the strangest cars ever built, especially for a reputable company like BMW. This Italy-designed “bubble car” dates back to the early 1950s when the Iso Company launched the car. It had a tiny engine that produced just 9.5 horsepower, with a single wheel in the back and two in the front. A second wheel was later added to prevent the vehicle from tipping over. Now, this car was never featured in any of Michael Jackson’s videos, but can’t you imagine him underneath that bubble dome top? Strangely enough, over 161,000 of these things were sold, all of them without any side doors and a single swinging entryway to access the car from the front.
In our search for strange cars that Michael Jackson should have owned, we end on the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone—one of USNews.com’s “50 Weirdest Cars of All Time.” This is another space-age designed car, with a body style that was somewhat novel in the 1950s but hasn’t really been seen since. It looks like a Jetson’s car, but on wheels. It was built by Harley Earl, featuring a rocket ship design with a Plexiglass bubble canopy that allowed the driver to have full 360-degree vision. The top could be flipped under the rear deck of the car when it was not in use. It was fitted with a forward-looking radar that alerted the driver of objects in front of the car—an idea ahead of its time, like today’s forward collision warning system.
Sources: Autoweek, Mercedes Blog, and Motor1.