Hassanal Bolkiah is a name most people probably won’t recognize. But Sultan of Brunei, his official title, would probably ring a bell for car enthusiasts. That’s because the Sultan is the proud owner of the largest car collection in the world and the most valuable car collection to boot!
At last count, the royal collection housed more than 7,000 cars, valued at more than $5 billion. To put that into perspective, the world’s most valuable Hot Wheels collection is home to around 7,000 tiny 1:64 scale cars and is worth around $1.5 million! Brunei’s collection, on the other hand, is closer to the GDP of many smaller nations!
From what little we know of the Sultan’s collection, there are over 600 Rolls-Royces, 400 Bentleys, 200 Ferraris and several special editions built especially for the collection. There’s no denying that the Sultan’s car collection is rare, massive, incredibly comprehensive, and worth a lot of money. Brunei’s royal family have held the title of the world’s largest private car collection since the late 1980s. And there doesn’t really seem to be a chance that their collection will be outdated any time soon. Although the royals are broke and haven’t bought many new cars since the 2000s, with many cars literally rot from not being used, or even started! It looks to us like this might be the most valuable barn find situation we’ve ever seen.
This is how the Sultan of Brunei’s car collection became the largest and most valuable car collection in the world, and what needs to be done to save it.
The Sultan of Brunei built his car collection on oil
The money of the Sultan of Brunei comes from black gold, or oil, as we know it – oil. It’s no wonder, then, that the royal family’s favorite color for their cars is yellow. In some cases, the cars in his collection are even gold. The Sultan has a custom Rolls-Royce limo that has been built with real 24 carat gold!
When Brunei, an oil-rich country on the island of Borneo between Malaysia and Indonesia, gained independence in the 1980s, the royal family benefited the most from its vast reserves of oil and natural gas. The personal value of the Sultan of Brunei is estimated at more than 28 billion dollars! The 76-year-old has been the monarch since 1967, and his younger brother Jefri Bolkiah is next. The two of them started buying cars in bulk in the late 80s, in addition to buying extravagant private jets, personal birthday parties with celebrities and building the largest residential palace in the world, with 1,700 bedrooms !
This collection of cars spans warehouses and continents
Given the scale of the collection, it is only natural that not all the cars are located in the same place. Most are housed in multi-storey warehouses near the grand palace. There are said to be 110 garages filled wall-to-wall with priceless cars, and several other parking lots around the world, including in the United States in areas where the family owns property. Many of the cars in the collection are used for official purposes, such as the many Rolls-Royces the Royal Family have purchased over the years. Just to give you an idea of how many Rolls-Royces we’re talking about, it’s said that half of all the cars leaving Crewe went to Brunei in the 90s. during this period.
According to the account of a broker responsible for selling a few cars from the collection, each floor of each garage contained approximately 120 cars. The car collection is divided into separate sections for Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Bentley and more. There are even sections filled with multiple versions of each car in different colors.
The collection even houses rare Bentley, Ferrari, Rolls-Royce concepts, including unique pieces built especially for the Brunei collection. The 1994 Bentley Dominator SUV (all six have already been made), which is something of a precursor to the Bentley Bentayga, over two decades old!
Brunei’s car collection begs to be saved
Based on reports that the car warehouses are uncontrolled by the region’s temperature and tropical climate, it’s no wonder the cars stored here are in various states of decay and disrepair. Many of these cars have not been started, let alone used, for decades. Many were not led at all! There isn’t too much information on the current state of the car collection, but there is occasionally a collection of ultra-rare cars that come up for auction, which may only be from the Brunei collection. According to other accounts, at least half of Brunei’s cars are sunk.
But that’s where the spirit of a barn restoration comes in. Given the rarity of most cars in the collection, we believe the Brunei Collection is the perfect opportunity for wealthy collectors to step in and save the day. These cars certainly deserve better, and we can only hope the Royal Family of Brunei realizes that.