Michael Jackson is undoubtedly one of the greatest recording artists of all time. From his early Motown days with his brothers in The Jackson Five to his record-breaking albums Thriller and Bad, he has enjoyed chart-topping success around the world.
However, he was also something of a controversial figure and certainly lived an unusual life behind the closed gates of his extensive Neverland ranch in Santa Barbara, California. Regardless of whether or not you believe any of the allegations made in the recent documentary Leaving Neverland, no-one can deny that Michael Jackson was an odd man!
After his tragic and sudden passing in 2009, many of Jackson's prized possessions had to be auctioned off to the highest bidder in order to pay for the huge tax bill on his vast estate. This auction included many of the cars which Jackson had used on his Neverland ranch, and gave us another glimpse into his unorthodox lifestyle.
Jackson also loved to use cars in his music videos, and these videos were often as ground-breaking as his music. Anyone who has seen the cinematic video for Thriller can be left in no doubt as to how much Jackson influenced artists who came after him.
Check out the list below of the weird and wonderful vehicles which Jackson has owned over his long career, some of which even had starring roles in his music videos!
From the sublime to the ridiculous; Jackson may have owned a fleet of opulent and expensive limousines, but another car that featured in the collection that went up for auction in 2009 was a very humble 1993 Ford Econoline minivan.
Even this very ordinary vehicle had been given a special King of Pop makeover when it came to the interior, with plush leather seats and TV screens with games consoles to keep the singer amused when he was being driven around in this rather incognito set of wheels. The perfect way to keep the boy who never grew up amused on long journeys!
When Jackson’s car collection was eventually auctioned off, the executor of his estate decided that every vehicle in the Neverland garages had to be included – even those which didn’t actually have a motor. One of the more unusual items in the auction catalog (and it was up against some pretty stiff competition) was an ornate carriage, which looked like it was designed to be pulled by horses, but which was actually powered by electricity.
The carriage was a replica of a historical design, with plenty of lavish decorations, and features designed to make the trip more comfortable for any passengers.
Not only did Michael Jackson like to create a theme park vibe at his Neverland home, but he also had a strange obsession with staying young – of which the repeated plastic surgeries was only a small part. He was also known as the Peter Pan of Pop because of his youthfulness – albeit that it was achieved artificially!
And that’s where this bad golf cart comes in, complete with its custom artwork featuring Michael Jackson as Peter Pan. This cart even has Peter Pan-themed cushions and was apparently one of a few such carts that Jackson used regularly to get around his vast Neverland ranch.
There's nothing that weird about owning a Mercedes-Benz. Indeed, many motorists would love to get their hands on some of that German precision engineering and exquisite automotive design!
However, the Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL in Michael Jackson’s garage was bought way back in 1985, and yet the King of Pop was still using it to drive around his cast Neverland estate at the time of his death. Jackson could have bought a dozen brand new Mercedes-Benz cars, and not noticed a dent in his bank account, so it says a lot that he stayed loyal to his favorite car for all those years.
The King of Pop’s taste in cars wasn’t just for high-end luxury cars and limos. One rather surprising inclusion in the auction of Jackson’s car collection after his passing was a 1988 GMC Jimmy, a full-size SUV that was very much designed for rough and ready off-road driving – not a pursuit that you can imagine Michael Jackson embracing!
Based on the Chevrolet Blazer, the GMC Jimmy was sold between 1970 and 1991, when it was finally discontinued in favor of the more comfortable SUVs that consumers were demanding. And yet Jackson kept hold of his GMC Jimmy for decades.
The idea of a Harley Davidson motorcycle in the Neverland garage is as incongruous as the idea of Michael Jackson driving around in a GMC Jimmy. And yet the star did buy a 2001 Harley – and not an ordinary bike, but a 2001 Harley Davidson police motorcycle.
Perhaps the singer had been influenced by the starring role just such a motorbike had played in Moonwalker, the rather unusual and somewhat eclectic film he released in 1988 - which was actually a series of short films he had made as music videos for the singles from his album Bad, which released in the same year.
Among all the weird and wonderful vehicles which were auctioned off after Jackson’s death in 2009, perhaps the weirdest was a customized GMC High Sierra pickup truck from 1986. In fact, by the time the singer, or more accurately the team of mechanics he probably hired for the job, had finished with the truck, it was barely recognizable as a GMC High Sierra.
It had instead been converted into the Neverland fire truck, complete with a water tank and hoses and a flashing red light, along with a bright red paint job. It’s unknown, however, whether the High Sierra fire truck ever attended a real fire at the ranch…
Michael Jackson also liked to feature some of his favorite cars in his iconic music videos. The eye-catching and innovative video, or more accurately the short film, which was released to accompany the 1991 single Black or White featured an AMC Matador, a stylish and sporty vehicle which was only in production between 1970 and 1978.
The vehicle first features in the background of the action, but towards the end, MJ starts dancing on the roof of the AMC Matador, before smashing it up with an iron bar, in a sequence which caused a great deal of controversy at the time!
The Lancia Stratos Zero was another Michael Jackson favorite which had a starring role in one of his videos – though it couldn’t have been any different from the clunky 1970s AMC Matador. Despite being built in 1970, the one-of-a-kind Lancia Stratos Zero looked like it had just driven off the set of a science fiction film, which is probably why he chose this particular car for his unusual Moonwalker film.
The Lancia Stratos Zero was a concept car for the Lancia Stratos HF, and made its debut at the Turin Motor Show in 1970, before spending much of its life in museums around the world.
Now to another of those luxurious and over-the-top limousines in the Jackson car collection; a Rolls Royce Silver Seraph from 1999. From the outside, it looked as though the King of Pop had made very few changes to the vehicle, but open the doors and you got a glimpse of the luxurious lifestyle he was used to living.
The customized interior of the Rolls Royce Silver Seraph featured leather seats, a rich blue interior with walnut fittings which even had 24-carat gold detailing. When it was put up for auction after Jackson’s death in 2009, it was valued at an estimated $140,000.
In the early 1980s, Jackson signed a deal to promote a line of scooters produced by Japanese motorbike manufacturer, Suzuki. The campaign was entitled Suzuki Love and featured the King of Pop himself telling consumers that “love is my message.” As often happens with these commercial tie-ins, Jackson didn’t just pick up a paycheck for the work he carried out for the commercial campaign, but he was also given his own Suzuki scooter as a bonus.
The chances are that he didn’t drive his scooter very often, but the adverts did feature some innovative choreography which even incorporated the scooters themselves.
The tour bus is a standard piece of kit for any major music artist who is hitting the road, but not many stars have their own tour bus parked in the garage.
Most usually hire buses and fit them out as required as when they are getting ready for a tour. Michael Jackson always had to do things differently, however, owning his own Neoplan luxury touring coach, which was fitted with all the latest mod-cons for a comfortable tour, and even had leather seats which were monogrammed with a crown – to identify it as belonging to the King of Pop, of course!
One of the last automotive purchases that Michael Jackson ever made was in 2007 when he decided to follow the increasing celebrity trend of driving a Toyota Prius, the best-selling hybrid in the world. It’s unclear whether Jackson was concerned about the environment, or whether he just saw that lots of other famous faces were driving this rather unassuming little car, but whatever the reason, the top-of-the-range Prius soon joined his vast collection of much more decadent and much, much more expensive vehicles.
Nevertheless, the Toyota Prius still joined those limousines and customized cars in the auction of vehicles which took place after Michael Jackson’s tragic death.
The Rolls Royce Silver Spur II limousine is very much the car you can imagine the King of Pop being driven around in. The 1990 model which was in Jackson’s collection, however, was far from an ordinary Silver Spur II (although some would argue that there is no such thing as an “ordinary” Rolls Royce! The singer had completely redesigned the interior, with white leather seats and a strikingly contrasting black trim, with 24-carat gold decorations.
The car’s rear windows were also tinted to such an extent that it was almost impossible for the paparazzi to get any shots of Jackson.
Jackson’s 1988 Lincoln Town Car was just one of several limousines in his collection. Although he never drove any of these vehicles himself, preferring to rely on the services of trusted drivers, the singer definitely liked to personalize these cars to reflect his own sense of style. The white Lincoln Town Car actually had a much more subdued interior compared to some of his other vehicles, with a custom interior featuring a grey leather and fabric finish, along with all the latest mod-cons for Jackson’s comfort.
Even with this attractive interior, this particular model is boxy compared to the sleek and stylish finishes given to many 21st century limousines.
Sources - 500sec, Auto Evolution, All My Cars World, Motor 1