Odd choices, great choices, and some unexpected choices.
Being a millionaire doesn't mean much these days. But what about a billionaire? That means the kind of cash that will buy you whatever houses you want, wherever you want, and whatever cars you want to fill the garages with. What you or I would choose once we made that fortune is one thing, but what billionaires actually choose is another. Out of curiosity, we did some research and this is what we found.
The founder of Microsoft, and now staggeringly rich philanthropist with a net worth of $99.4 billion, Bill Gates is also a Porsche enthusiast. And, due to the 959, he is partly responsible for the Show and Display law being passed. In the 1980s, the hottest car out of Germany was the Porsche 959 and Gates wanted one. However, his model ended up stuck in customs because it hadn't cleared federal crash requirements or EPA standards yet. Porsche didn't follow up on those so, as his car sat impounded for over a decade, Gates worked with others to get the law passed that would allow private import of cars that met a historical or technological significance standard. It's been reported that he even still drives it around occasionally.
Steve Ballmer is the former, over-enthusiastic, CEO of Microsoft and also owns the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. His worth is estimated at a mind-blowing $50 billion and was last seen driving a down to earth Ford Fusion Hybrid. Ford and Microsoft have a working relationship and Ballmer's father was a manager at Ford. The car was presented to him by then Ford CEO Alan Mulally in celebration of their one-millionth vehicle equipped with Sync.
While Vladimir Putin portrays himself as a man of the Russian people, it's an open secret he's a billionaire, and some financial industry experts believe he's actually the richest man in the world. The former KGB spy isn't telling though, and to keep with his image as a Russian patriot he owns a car built by the long-running Russian car manufacturer, Lada. It's unlikely he bought it or has actually driven the Lada again though. Lada cars are, after all, cheap and simply built for the peasants.
When the CEO and co-founder of Apple was still alive, he had an arrangement with a leasing company that ensured he had a brand new car every six months. The reason was to avoid having a license plate on his car. Until recently, state law in California meant you had a grace period on a new car and didn't have to put plates on for six months. We say recently because, as of this year, a law has been passed to close what has become known as the "Steve Jobs Loophole".
Whether it was because Jobs didn't like being tracked or, as an appreciator and arbiter of design, he simply despised having number plates cluttering the lines or attracting attention, we'll never know for sure. What we do know is that he liked having the same model every time and that was last reported as a Mercedes SL55 AMG. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated at $10.2 billion.
Alice Walton is the only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton and the heiress to the Walmart fortune. Her life has been controversial in both her political donations, art appreciation, the amount of money she receives from Walmart versus the company's wage structure, and her drink driving arrests that resulted in minimal fines. Walton's net worth is around $50 billion and she keeps her privacy in check. However, she owns a 3200-acre ranch in Texas and was last reported to drive a down-to-earth F-150 King Ranch. It seems she followed in her father's footsteps as he also drove an F-150.
Oracle founder and Tesla board member Larry Ellison was at one point considered to be the richest man in the world. He is also known as a playboy that collects objects of wealth such as property, yachts, and cars. With his net worth of $65.1 billion, he can afford to. His car collection included some real gems, such as a McLaren F1, but was more recently seen driving a Lexus LFA.
Facebook's founder and CEO has a net worth of $66 billion, although his daily drivers haven't demonstrated that. He's mostly known for driving a Prius and Golf GTI. However, he does have something a little faster and more exotic in his garage: a Pagani Huayra.
Whether you believe Donald Trump is genuinely a billionaire or not, Forbes estimates him to have a net worth of $3.1 billion. Recently, Trump has been vocal about cars and the industry, particularly German brands, as a threat to American automotive jobs. In 2018 he was reported telling French president Emmanuel Macron he would maintain his trade policy "until no Mercedes models rolled on Fifth Avenue in New York."
Of course, Trump has owned some expensive cars before becoming president including, comically, an imported Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR he had delivered to Trump Tower in New York as a present for his, then new, wife Melania.
From what we can gather, he's bought very few American cars other than Cadillac Escalades supplied to his properties. His personal list includes a couple of Rolls-Royce models, a Diablo VT Roadster he sold in 2016, the same year he bought a Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard. Very bad Germans, indeed.
Generally regarded as the most successful investor in history, Warren Buffett may have a financial worth of $88.4 billion, but he's famed for being frugal. However, in 2014 his daughter reportedly told him it was embarrassing to see him driving around in his 2006 Cadillac DTS. He sent her out to choose a new car for him, and she came back having reserved a Cadillac CTS from a local dealer. Buffet and his daughter were so impressed by the experience with the dealership and the car that he sent a letter of praise to the General Motors chief executive.
Unless you've been hiding under a particularly large rock, you'll know Jeff Bezos is the CEO of Amazon and obscenely rich. Currently, he is worth a staggering $150 billion. It looks like Bezos is a believer of holding onto his money though as he was last reported as still owning his 1996 Honda Accord. When asked about it after becoming wealthy, he told an interviewer, "This is a perfectly good car."
Former mayor of New York and now media mogul Michael Bloomberg is worth a whopping $59.4 billion. You may remember him as the man who wanted to regulate the size of sodas sold in New York and declared the Nissan NV200 as the "taxi of tomorrow." However, he has also donated $130 million towards traffic policy and road safety worldwide. Given his efforts to slow people down on the road and reduce traffic, you may be surprised to learn that Bloomberg owns a V10 Audi R8 and a Chevy Suburban.
The Google co-founders and icons of the Silicon Valley tech industry are worth over $100 billion between them. They drove a Toyota Prius each for a long time, but now they both drive Teslas. Because of course they do.
In the first picture, that is Brin in his Tesla after his staff pranked him by having it decorated. They did a detailed job - the badges in the centre of the revolting wheels are actually the Google logo.