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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    São Paulo - Brasil

    Sultan of Brunei!!

    Imagine how crazy a car enthusiast could be: owns a McLaren F1? A Dauer 962? A Mercedes CLK-GTR? These become nothing if compare with the Sultan of Brunei. His collection includes 8 McLaren F1s, 6 Dauer 962 LMs, the only right-hand-drive CLK-GTR in the world, a pair of Jaguar XJR-15, a Porsche 959, 3 Cizeta V16Ts, a Lamborghini Diablo Jota .... and 5,000 other premium cars.
    Although living in one of the smallest countries in the world, the Sultan (= King) has been the richest man in the world for many years, even richer than Bill Gate. Himself and his Royal family control Brunei's oil production, which gives him unlimited wealth to fulfill his hobbies, as well as providing free education and health care to his people. Compare to the Indonesia which surround it, the tiny Brunei is lucky to be gifted with the precious natural resource.

    Strictly speaking, his majesty is not a die-hard car enthusiast, but his playboy younger brother Prince Jefri and his eldest son Prince Haakem are. They buy and play the supercars like toys, get bored very soon, then buy new ones and store the old ones in any of the 4 huge garages (more like a warehouse in terms of volume) for, perhaps, forever.

    Why did they buy so many McLaren and Dauer? Perhaps they like to share with their relatives. Perhaps their wives like to drive them for shopping. Perhaps they want to have a few spare cars when the normally used one is under servicing. Most likely, perhaps because money is nothing to his majesty.

    Apart from the aforementioned supercars, the Sultan has many custom-made cars. Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, AMG etc. specially developed cars for his majesty, because money is no object. For example, you can see a trio of Ferrari 456 GT's variants - a long wheelbase 4-door saloon version, a convertible and even an estate version (what a nonsense !) Yet this is just the least spectacular one. Some concept cars, such as Bentley Java and Pininfarina's Ferrari Mythos show car were exclusively developed into real running machines for the Sultan.

    In contrast to the motor show cars, Sultan also has many cars we have never seen and heard, for instance, the Ferrari FX. This is a supercar based on F512M but enclosed with an adventurous-looking body and a button-shift semi-automatic developed by Prodrive, much earlier than the F355 F1. Sultan has 6 such cars. Besides. His collection also includes a 542 hp, twin-turbo Rolls Royce, a Bentley incorporating Range Rover's 4x4 system called Dominator, 6 replicas for the '50s Mercedes 300SL based on today's 500SL but installed with AMG-enhanced 6.0 V8.
    The Sultan's interest is also shown in motor racing. He has a private museum displaying all the Formula One championship-winning race cars since 1980, all are real cars bought from the teams. Because of this, Frank Williams was invited to visit the King.

    In the past 15 years, the Royal family has been the most important client to many prestige car specialists. Aston, for example, supplied 200-300 cars during these years. Rolls-Royce even regularly supplied 40-50 cars every year. They have mechanics staying there to serve exclusively the Royal family. You can count the cost of all these cars.... well, perhaps "countless" is the most likely answer.

    However, the situation has changed since the Asian economy crisis. In 1998, I knew from newspaper that Prince Jefri, who was the Minister of Finance of the country, lost billions of US dollars in his secret investment in stock market. The capital was actually illegally and secretly "borrowed" from the government's reserve, via using his power without the permission of the Sultan. Before this was unveiled, Jefri stole another great sum and escaped from Brunei.

    The Sultan was very angry, not only sacked his brother's position, he also commanded to terminate the supercar import, sent all mechanics away and locked the garages. The loss is too great even to the richest man in this planet.

    However, as Asian has recovered from the crisis, recently I heard the Sultan is shopping supercars again. Meanwhile, Prince Jefri said he is willing to refund the King as an exchange for his return to Brunei.




    His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has been listed as the world's richest man for longer than most people can remember. As absolute sovereign of the little Sultanate that neighbours Malaysia, the Sultan pockets around half the profits from the state's oil and gas reserves for himself and his family. It's a personal bounty some analysts say amounts to three quarters of a billion pounds every year.

    The garages are like huge warehouses

    It's not surprising, therefore, that the Bruneian royals are profligate spenders. But still, no one could be prepared for the sights that await visitors to the multi-billion-pound collection stashed away in the four giant garages and workshop at House Number Five. "The garages are like huge warehouses," says one source, "wall to wall with exotic cars. My jaw hit the ground when I saw them. It can take an hour and a half just to get a certain car out if it's been parked right at the back."

    5000 vehicles, all logged onto a central computer system

    Around 3000 vehicles reside in the complex, out of a royal collection of 5000 vehicles, all logged onto a central computer system based in the workshop administration centre on the site. If not driven by immediate members of the family, then they are used by the ministers of state, government officials and members of the royal household. But the latest word is that much of the collection is now in mothballs as the Sultan assesses the impact of recent changes in the economic climate.

    Rolls-Royce supplied 40 or 50 cars a year to Brunei

    "The usual order for anything other than the most unique cars would be for at least six examples, all supplied in different colours," another source claims. Two UK companies have benefited handsomely from the Sultan's munificence: Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce. Aston is believed to have supplied between 200 and 300 cars over a 15-year period, ranging from virtually standard models to customised versions of current cars, such as the Vantage shooting brake and saloon.

    Aston has also supplied rolling Vantage chassis to Pininfarina, which has designed and built cars like the AM3 and AM4. Sources estimate the final cost of those machines at 600,000 Pounds, and just two or three of each have been built. Aston also supplied and serviced all the Jaguars on the Brunei fleet after the Coventry-based company refused to send technicians over, bizarrely suggesting the Sultan might like to rely on the local dealer network instead... Rolls-Royce supplied 40 or 50 cars a year to Brunei, mainly for use as government "runabouts". The cars cost up to 450,000 Pounds and have all in recent years featured a special "Sultan spec'" engine. Reliable sources speak of a twin turbocharger set-up and a series of internal mods that deliver a peak torque figure of 712lb ft at 2400rpm and 542bhp at 4500rpm.

    Six Ferrari FX models for the Sultan

    The Bruneian royals have also spent millions with Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina which, as well as rebodying Aston Martins, has also produced many unique Ferraris. Convertible, coupe and saloon versions of the standard 456 Ferrari (all codenamed Venice) have been produced in limited numbers, mainly for Brunei but also for wealthy customers elsewhere in the world. Pininfarina has also produced at least six Ferrari FX models for the Sultan. Based on 512M running gear, the cars feature manual transmission shifted by a button on the steering wheel, a system developed by Prodrive for its rally cars. It predates Ferrari's own paddle-shift system on the F355 by a couple of years.

    The family also owns two fully operational Ferrari Mythos road cars - the Mythos was supposed to be a one-off show concept - but Pininfarina's latest proposal, the Bolide, was turned down.

    Under the circumstances, perhaps the Sultan will choose to let the cars rot until Brunei's prospects brighten. And that will be a great time to get into the restoration business...

    Classic Driver

    1 of the Sultan of Brunei 's F40 and its grey! See the Pic!

    I need to have a talk with this guy!
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    Fasten seat belt while seated

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