The Sultan of Brunei’s Unbelievable Car Collection

The world’s biggest car collection – an estimated 7,000 cars worth more than $5bn – is owned by the secretive Sultan of Brunei.

It’s private, so unless you’re a friend of the absolute ruler of this tiny oil-rich state on the north coast of the island of Borneo, you’ll never see his cars. It’s a shame because there are some amazing machines, including many one-offs, specially commissioned by the Sultan or his equally car-mad younger brother, Prince Jefri.

The Sultan of Brunei has 7,000 cars
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, owns 7,000 cars


He’s such an important car collector and car buyer that it’s thought he kept Rolls-Royce and Bentley afloat during their darkest days. About half of all Rolls-Royces and Bentleys sold in the early and mid-1990s went to the Sultan and his family. Many were bespoke.

The Sultan of Brunei’s Unbelievable Car Collection

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The world’s biggest car collection – an estimated 7,000 cars worth more than $5bn – is owned by the secretive Sultan of Brunei.

It’s private, so unless you’re a friend of the absolute ruler of this tiny oil-rich state on the north coast of the island of Borneo, you’ll never see his cars. It’s a shame because there are some amazing machines, including many one-offs, specially commissioned by the Sultan or his equally car-mad younger brother, Prince Jefri.

The Sultan of Brunei has 7,000 cars
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, owns 7,000 cars


He’s such an important car collector and car buyer that it’s thought he kept Rolls-Royce and Bentley afloat during their darkest days. About half of all Rolls-Royces and Bentleys sold in the early and mid-1990s went to the Sultan and his family. Many were bespoke.

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Cars commissioned specially by the Sultan included six Bentley Dominators, the company’s first SUV (20 years before the Bentayga). As with so many Brunei cars, it was a secret project, only coming to public notice when a photographer snapped a shot of the car being loaded onto a cargo plane destined for Brunei.

There was also the 1996 Bentley Buccaneer (a sporty coupé) plus Bentley Camelot, Phoenix, Imperial, Rapier, Pegasus, Silverstone and Spectre. If you’re unfamiliar with these nameplates, don't worry: Bentley never officially made them. They were bespoke and confidential coach-built commissions. The odd photo and nugget have leaked, but they remain mysterious. The Sultan and his family own an estimated 380 Bentleys.

Sultan of Brunei's car collection
The Sultan of Brunei's Ferraris and other cars are guarded by Gurkhas

His biggest collection is of Rolls-Royces. His 600-car Rolls-Royce fleet includes bespoke and secret vehicles such as the Rolls-Royce Royale, Majestic and Cloudesque all big and extravagant limousines. We only really know details thanks to some Southeast Asia paparazzi and to the odd tourist who encounters the royal family out motoring. One Rolls-Royce that was more widely seen was the Silver Spur II used on the Sultan’s wedding day. It wasn’t any normal Silver Spur, though. This one was 24-carat gold plated.

Other noteworthy cars include specially commissioned Ferraris – among them the 456 GT Venice (a station wagon, six were commissioned by Prince Jefri), a F90 supercar commissioned in 1988 and the 1995 FX (the Sultan ordered six). Rare but not bespoke Ferraris include the 250 GTO, most valuable of all Ferraris (he owns two) and the F40, arguably the most exciting of all Ferraris. He owns 11.

A Bugatti EB110 is part of the Sultan's fleet

If you’re lucky enough to get an invitation, you’ll also see auto gems such as the McLaren F1 (the Brunei royal family originally bought 10 - some have been sold but apparently seven remain in the collection), Jaguar XJ220, a unique Brunei-commissioned Aston Martin Vantage ‘Special Series’, a one-off BMW Nazca M12 concept and a Bugatti EB110. Plus thousands of other wonderful cars, all garaged in a vast automotive palace with separate wings for the most important marques.

The Sultan ordered a bespoke Bentley Buccaneer


The Sultan himself – real name Hassanal Bolkiah – lives in what is thought to be the world’s largest palace (1,788 rooms including 57 bathrooms) and is the second longest-reigning monarch after Queen Elizabeth II. He was formerly the richest man in the world, before losing this crown to Bill Gates.

He became Sultan in 1967 and started accumulating his car collection soon after ascending to the throne.

Cars aren’t his only extravagance. He has his own private zoo complete with 30 Bengal tigers, paid $70m for a Renoir painting and supposedly flies a barber out from The Dorchester hotel in London (which he owns) to cut his hair. He also got Jack Nicklaus to design his personal and private golf course.

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