Celebrities generally aren’t shrinking violets. As much as they profess to hate it when the paparazzi get on them, attracting attention is the point of becoming famous for many of them. And let’s face it, unless you’re Ed Begley, Jr., you don’t attract attention in a Prius. (Actually, come to think of it, even Ed doesn’t attract much attention in one). Here are five of our favorite celebrity attention-getters:
1. 1971-87 Stutz Blackhawk
The Stutz Blackhawk may well be the most popular celebrity ride of all time. Lucille Ball, Liberace, Elvis, Muhammad Ali, Billy Joel, Elton John, Willy Nelson, Johnny Cash, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Isaac Hayes and many other taste-challenged entertainment types owned them. Designed by a by-then past-his-prime Virgil “Excess” Exner to recall some of the more flamboyant designs of the 1950s, the car, with its side pipes and huge grille, appealed not only to celebrities but to members of the more seedy underbellies of L.A. and New York. It was at least very well built with a custom Italian-made body over a Pontiac Grand Prix chassis, and only the finest materials of the day were used in the cabin.
2. 1977-79 Clenet Series I Roadster
In 1970s L.A., narcissism, jadedness and cynicism had fully outstripped the major auto manufacturers’ ability to keep up. Custom coach building was all but dead and a Mercedes 450SL, a Rolls-Royce Corniche or a Ferrari 308 was about as special a car as you could hope to buy new. Enter French-born former American Motors stylist Alain Clenét. His Clenét Roadster was a throwback to 1930s Hollywood and entertainment icons like Rod Stewart, Wayne Newton, Farrah Fawcett and Sylvester Stallone bought them up in droves until the exit of Clenét’s business partner put the operation on life support in the early 1980s. A bizarre fact about the Clenét was that the $27,000 1977 model (which would cost $103,000 in 2014 money) utilized the passenger compartment, doors and windshield of a $3,900 MG Midget.
3. 1956-58 Dual-Ghia
The Dual-Ghia in addition to being exclusive, was actually a well-executed, very attractive and — unique to this list — understated car. Loosely based on a Chrysler concept car (that was also styled by the above-mentioned Mr. Exner), it was fast too, powered by a 315cid Chrysler Hemi. Dual Motors was started by a Detroit businessman to build the very exclusive car but the project sank after just 112 cars were built. Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Desi Arnaz were Dual-Ghia owners.
4. 1960 Di Dia 150
This one-of-one dream car was built by clothing designer Andy Di Dia for singer Bobby Darin. There was nothing even remotely restrained or tasteful about it. The fins dwarfed even those on the 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville and its clear bubble roof looked like something out of the Jetsons. The car was massive at over 20 feet long and powered by a high-performance Ford 427 V-8. It cost more than $1.2 million in today’s money to build. Within a few years of its construction, however, the car became terminally out of sync with the times, and Darin donated it in 1970 to the St. Louis Museum of Transportation where it has been displayed since.
5. 2005-2011 Bugatti Veryon
The Veyron is to celebrities today what the Stutz was in the 1970s. The number of celebrity Veyron owners is too high to list. Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Tom Cruise are among them. While Veyrons are ridiculously powerful and insanely fast at 230-plus mph, they’re actually quite docile and user-friendly around town, although they attract long lenses and paparazzi like Lindsay Lohan falling off the wagon at 1 Oak.