Holmes is a major fan of Nigel Blackwell, an author and engineer who loves all things that move. His intelligent, thoroughly researched blogs cover everything from futuristic cars to the history of supersonic flight. So when Nigel offered to help out Holmes with a few guest blogs while he’s away, Holmes could not have been more honored. See why for yourself….
Dominating Rides for the Budding Despot, the Tyrant, and the Oppressor
By NIGEL BLACKWELL
Here at Bayard & Holmes, they’ve been running though spies, history, dictators, and the odd bit of belly dancing. The thing that really got me thinking was dictators. We all know they’re self obsessed, ruthless, manic murderers, and purveyors of spin, but the big question is – what kind of cars would they drive?
Most dictators sweep to power seriously believing they’re doing the best for their country, and that everyone loves them. Once the secret police are fully in control of the civilians, and the initial bloodshed is over (ie when they’ve got rid of everyone not convinced by the “doing the best for their country and loving them” bit), your freshly minted dictator usually wants to show off in some spiffy new wheels. Perhaps not quite as vulgar as the Popemobile, below, but something similar.
Now, if you’ve just taken over a small place off the Gulf of Mexico, you might well have a wide variety of classic 1950s open top American cars to choose from. These are ideal for your budding dictator. Long, wide, slow slung with an engine that emits just the right lazy growl. And they go with anything. Jungle camo, three-piece suits, or tassels and baubles for the full on fruitcake. Being open topped, you can really go to town on your new headgear.
But what if you’re not near the Gulf of Mexico and don’t have a ready supply of classics? Well, the Dictator Code of Evil mandates something open-topped. Scouring the country should turn up a Rolls or Bentley. These can be appropriated (because your people love you), or left as a gift (in a newly written will by the newly deceased). Old ones will ensure you (and your headgear) make the front pages around the world.
In the unfortunate event that your military and/or secret police didn’t stop these cars leaving the country as you seized control of your people learned to love you, then you’re probably a little strapped for cash. Even in the poorest of nations, you should be able to find some money left in the banks. You might be tempted to leave its collection to your secret police, but I’d advise actually being there as the vault doors are blown off (check with Michael Caine on this one).
So, now you have some cash and a pile of new car brochures. You need something open-top with four seats (no self respecting dictator sits up front). There are a couple of American cars that would fit the bill, but I’d go for the more economical Volkswagen Beetle.
DON’T get the version with flowers painted on the wheels AND THROW AWAY THE STUPID PLASTIC FLOWER (and its holder) immediately.
Why the Beetle? Two reasons:
1. The front windscreen covers the driver and bodyguard, leaving yourself and your floozy as the main attraction.
2. The sloping windscreen helps deflect the wind blast if you’ve gone a little OTT with the fruit-and-plumage on your new headgear.
3. The original Beetle was brought into being by a ruthless despot, so it has a suitable lineage (ignoring the fact that it’s now thought of as a “girl’s car” … you might want to prep the secret police to dispel that “myth” before your first public outing).
You’re probably wondering why, having seized control of valiantly offered to help your country, you have to go to the bother of paying for your new ride. Well, trust me, it’s a Volkswagen. You’ll need a thriving dealership because you’ll be back there often enough.
There is one other reason for keeping the dealership going – you’re going to have to trade up. Trade up?! Yep, you’re going to need something with a lid on it.
Why would you want to move away from the classic dictator combination of Beetle, headgear and floozy? Well, riding around, and impressing the commoners is fun to start with, but let’s face it, they’re commoners, and commoners are, well, common. What’s not common with commoners is soap and deodorant. There is a good reason the unwashed masses are called the unwashed masses, and you didn’t seize control of valiantly offer your services to the country just to end up downwind of the camels (or insert appropriate local animal here). So, after the open top honeymoon, it’s time to get something with a lid on it. This will cramp your style in the fruit-and-plumage department, but with blacked out windows, the floozy possibilities can more than make up for this.
By now you should have screwed plenty of … money out of the people (wash your minds out). Your Volkswagen days are over. Mercs, Bentleys, Rolls, and perhaps even a Maybach beckon. There are plenty of options here and no wrong choices. One tip. Don’t bother with the massaging seats option, I mean, who takes over a country just to have some bunch of electric motors give them a massage? Pass me another floozy.
This should see you through the middle years of your dictatorship. Try to treat this car well. If things turn out badly, you may have to drive it to a neighboring country and sell it in a rush (assuming you weren’t stupid enough to seize control of offer your services to an island country). Clean cars are always easier to move quickly.
Even if you do stay in the country you seized control of love, you’ll have to upgrade. Exactly when depends on how well you pay your secret police, but generally it’s anywhere between next weekend and the birth of your great grandson.
You’re going to have to plan ahead for this one. The best idea is to have one of your sons travel to a different country, order it, and then recruit pirates to ship it back. With careful use of bribes, you can avoid taxes, and this baby’s going to cost enough without having to pay those, as well. Plus, there’s the potential issue of the country you seized control of love being placed on some pesky US government blacklist. Send the “creative” son to sort out any paperwork snafus.
But what’s the vehicle? Well, it’s time to ditch the fruit bowl on the top of your head and take your safety seriously. Warped factions who want to seize control of don’t love the country as much as you do, may be a problem. You need something that’s going to keep you and your closest half dozen floozys safe, all while enjoying a good massage and a hot meal, of course. The prez recently canned a project that might have fitted part of that bill, but it just doesn’t have the necessary style for a dictator recovering from a fruit-and-plumage fetish. There was a bit of a price tag issue as well.
What you need now is the South African Marauder.
This thing kicks peasant butt. Walls are no obstacle, and those smaller vehicles on the road (often referred to as “cars” by the proles) are easily mashed. Mines can put a crimp on any dictators retirement plan, but not in this monster. It can shake off a blast from 35lbs of TNT with “Give Peace a Chance” on the stereo and the a/c running.
You might ask, “Is this really necessary?” Well, back in March, Bashar Assad’s car (video) was attacked by protestors. He was driving a BMW, either a 5 or 7 series (can’t tell from the video). It might be armored, but if it isn’t, I’m sure it went straight to the top of his to-do list given his popularity. Lets hope there’s a backlog at the factory, and he has to go back to his Beetle.
Depending on how things go at the end of your life career, one of the following may well be your last ride. Don’t sweat paying for this one. The new state will provide it …. Well, if there’s enough bits of you left.
On the plus side, the country you seized control of love might bury you with your original fruit-and-plumage masterpiece.