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Friday, July 10, 2009

Michael Jackson’s Curious Car Collection

The interior of Michael Jackson's 1999 Rolls Royce Silver Seraph

The interior of Michael Jackson's 1999 Rolls Royce Silver Seraph.

As those of you who’ve seen "The best car songs... ever!" know, we are music fans as well as car fans. And while Michael Jackson got awfully strange and maybe a little criminal toward the end of his life, I love some of his music, and I think it’s a shame he so clearly never learned how to truly grow up despite - or perhaps because of - his absolutely massive success.

Maybe Jackson’s desire to live his whole life as a child explains why his car collection consisted mostly of vehicles that allowed him to bask in over-the-top luxury in the rear while someone else drove. Auto Trader UK assembled a slide show featuring some of Jackson’s cars in an article on a planned-but-canceled auction of Jackson items in February, including a 1999 Rolls Royce Silver Seraph limousine for which Jackson designed the interior himself, using lots of 24-karat gold.

Sadly, that limousine and a 1997 Neoplan Touring Coach (which doesn’t appear until near the end of the slide show) are the only really interesting vehicles in the bunch, and they are interesting mostly because they’re so over-the-top gaudy and gold (including the fixtures on the bidet in the tour-bus’s bathroom). No Ferraris or rare muscle cars, no hot rods, not even a well-preserved classic from the year of his birth - Jackson had the money, at least in the ’80s, to assemble a fleet of cool cars that would rival Jay Leno's. But no, he built a 2,700-acre amusement park instead.

Based on the segment from Jackson’s film “Moonwalker” called “Smooth Criminal,” though, he did at least appreciate the futuristic looks of the Lancia Stratos - he morphs into a 1970 prototype version to escape Mr. Big and his cronies in the video. Of course, Michael probably didn’t handle the driving for that scene, and maybe one of his collaborators selected that car to feature. According to Wikipedia, that car now sits in a private showroom for Bertone, who did the exterior styling, in Italy. But surely Michael could have found - and afforded - one of the other 500 or so versions of the Stratus. Why didn’t he?

I guess the King of Pop and I don’t have too much in common. I wear two gloves at a time, I’ve never had and don’t want a pet monkey, I wouldn’t hang my child out a hotel window, and I don’t moonwalk at all well. But if I had enough money to start assembling a collection of cars, you can bet I’d have some beautiful Italian cars, some American muscle, and I’d drive those babies myself.

Thanks for sharing your enormous talent with the world, Michael, and may you find more peace in the afterlife than you did in this world

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