Driving Cadillacs in Our Dreams: What Do the Rich Drive?

Driving Cadillacs in Our Dreams: What Do the Rich Drive?

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“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends,” sang Janis Joplin in the 1960s, lamenting her supposed poverty. Spoiler alert: Joplin actually drove one of the most celebrated Porsches of her decade, a 1964 Porsche 356 SC cabriolet, which she had painted in spectacular psychedelic colors. 

Janis Joplin lamented being being poor while all her friends drove Porsches — however, she too drove a Porsche: a 356 SC Cabriolet with a psychedelic paint job.

As a nation we’ve always had strange ideas about what kind of cars the super-rich drive. Usually the notion goes that they must, of course, drive something incredibly expensive, because why wouldn’t they? They can afford it and those cars must be so much better than anything affordable by mere mortals like the rest of us. 

We’ll let you in on a secret: until comparatively recently, daily driving an exotic car totally sucked. Sure, they were fun for a drive in the country, or maybe showing off in South Beach, but they’re crap in parking lots and they overheat in traffic. 

The same is true with big, sedate, ultra-luxury cars. If you’re going to ride around in a big old Rolls-Royce, you want to be in the back seat with the champagne and Grey Poupon. Only recently did the staid likes of Rolls and Maybach get around to making something that’s even remotely fun to drive. 

The Billionaire Hooptie

So, how do the elites and the royals really roll? We decided to do a little digging. 

For example, billionaire investor Warren Buffett famously drives a 2014 Cadillac XTS sedan, which replaced a 2006 Cadillac DTS at the urging of GM CEO Mary Barra. Before that, he drove a 2001 Lincoln Town Car. In short, Buffett is pretty much just like your grandpa when it comes to cars. 

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge. All one would be missing is some Grey Poupon.

Meta CEO and bazillionaire Mark Zuckerberg used to daily a Volkswagen GTI, according to Forbes, but more recently has been spotted in a Honda Fit. But if you open his garage, Zuck also has quite a stable, including an Aston Martin Vulcan, Rolls-Royce Corniche, Ferrari FXX, Pagani Zonda R, Maybach 62 Limousine, Maserati MC12 Corsa, and a Lamborghini Reventon.

Bill Gates is even more modest, having rolled through Seattle in a Prius and a Ford Focus back in the day. Gates, though, also maintains a collection of pretty nice Porsches, by some accounts. 

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, reportedly drove a 2006 Honda Accord as his whip, while keeping a barn full of lovelies such as a Ferrari Pininfarina Sergio, Bugatti Veyron Mansory, Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita, and a Lamborghini Veneno. At least one Lambo seems to be required to gain entry into the billionaire boys club. 

In the realm of no surprises, Elon Musk drives a Tesla Model S. But back in 2017, Musk tweeted that he owned two gas-powered cars: a Ford Model T and a Jaguar E-Type roadster. 

When you get to true royalty, things tend to tick up a notch. Queen Elizabeth was well-known and often photographed driving her Range Rover, and Prince Harry cruises his new hometown of Los Angeles in a variety of Audis or a Range Rover, but nothing outrageous in either case. 

2023 Ford F-150 front 3-4
If you make more than $400K annually, you likely drive one of these.

Bottom line: it turns out that the lifestyles of the mega-rich and famous aren’t really all that different from yours, at least not when it comes to the grocery-getter. But in addition to the hooptie, they often have some really nice toys. 

What about ordinary rich people? 

It turns out that being flashy tends to be something that works for people who are focused on being famous and standing out from the crowd. However, most rich people prefer to blend in and go about their business. 

A 2016 report by our friend Matt DeLorenzo over at Kelley Blue Book showed a MaritzCX study found that the most popular vehicle of the wealthy in that year was the venerable Ford F-150. Wealthy in this case is just over $200,000 in income per year. Other popular choices among the upper middle class include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Pilot, and Jeep Wrangler. After the SUVs, the top sedan for this group was the humble Honda Civic. 

Kicking up the income bar to $400,000 changed the top choices to the Lexus RX and Tesla Model S, but the over $500,000 crowd reverted back to the F-150, as well as various Land Rovers, the BMW X5 and the Lexus RX.

Fast forward to the current version of the Experian report, and things haven’t changed very much. According to the 2022 study, as reported by Yahoo, households with more than $250,000 income still preferred the F-150, and 61% of such families in America do not choose luxury brands, instead driving vehicles from standard economy brands such as Toyota, Honda, and Ford. 

Maybe that’ll make you feel better about your choice of ride, or maybe not. Everyone deserves at least one flashy luxury car once in their lives. Maybe the time to get yours is now? 

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