Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ghost Ride The Celebrity Whip: 25 Stupid-Awesome Vehicles [pics]

When you make millions of dollars yet get everything for free, it can be challenging to figure out just how to spend your fortune. But these stars have it all worked out. They just blow their greenbacks on tricked out cars outfitted with more TVs than are commonly found in a five bedroom McMansion. Here are some of the more ridiculous celebrity car habits out there today.

  1. Jay Leno: Jay Leno, host of The Tonight Show, is legendary for his love of unique automobiles. While the exact number of cars in Leno's 17,000 foot garage is unknown, it's said to be well over 100. Leno's car collection represents 100 years of automobile history, and he definitely has a penchant for cars with unique features. Consider his 1956 Chrysler Imperial that has a record player installed beneath the dash, or the Blastolene Special, a 21-foot-long roadster with an aluminum body and the same v12 engines used in an M47 Patton Tank. Leno is said to drive all of the cars he owns, and he takes a different one to work each day.

  2. 50 Cent: 50 Cent, also known as Curtis Jackson, took part of the fortune he made off his successful rap career and sunk it into a 2006 Rolls Royce Phantom, which he then had turned into a convertible long before the car company began offering drop top models. The conversion was said to cost him almost as much as the car itself – about $350,000. 50's Phantom also has TVs inside it and came “fully loaded.” No word on whether he had it bulletproofed as he did his other vehicles.

  3. Simon Cowell: The American Idol host has a love for fast, flashy cars, which he proved by purchasing a $1 million Bugatti Veyron, a sleek bullet-like car made by Volkswagen. The car has over 1,000 horsepower and can go faster than 250 miles per hour, going from 0 to 100 in 2.5 seconds. And it's not the only fancy car in this TV mogul's garage. He's also the proud owner of a Rolls Royce Phantom and a Ferarri.

  4. Lebron James: When Lebron James turned 18 in 2003, his mother gave him a platinum Hummer H2 for his birthday. The ostentatious car was just incredibly splashy enough to spark an investigation by the Ohio High School Athletic Association about whether James accepted the car as a gift inappropriately before he started in the NBA. But five years later the controversy has been long cleared up and James' career is flying high. In 2007, the show SPEED did a makeover of James' Hummer adding in several extra features. James' car now has three TVs, leather seats embroidered with the words “King James”, a new grille, and the latest in all technological features. The base price for Hummers is about $55,000, but the value of James’ car is said to be three to four times that amount.

  5. Donald Trump: Just days after one was delivered to the White House, Donald Trump ran out to buy his very own Cadillac DTS Presidential Limousine. Trump was the first lay person to purchase the car, which seats six and comes with a magazine rack, humidor, 22-inch flat screen TV, DVD player, and wireless laptop computer, among many other things. Perhaps one of the most luxurious limousines on the market, the amount Trump paid to be cruising around in presidential style is certainly high though the price has not been revealed.

  6. P. Diddy: Not only does P. Diddy own a few outrageous cars of his own, but he's also the brainchild behind the Sean John Navigator, the bling-heavy SUV he designed for Lincoln. The cars retail to the public for $85,000 and only 100 of them exist. They come replete with tinted windows, satellite radio, heated and vibrating leather seats, six TVs, three DVDs, and a Playstation, among other things. And Diddy can boast rights as first owner.

  7. Britney Spears: It's really not at all surprising that Britney Spears would have a multitude of outrageous cars, and guess what? She does! Recently, her father was awarded the responsibility of figuring out what to do with her current fleet of seven luxury vehicles. She seems to change rides more than her underwear. Oh, wait … that may not be the best comparison. Anyway, one of Spears' most outrageous cars was her 2002 pink Hummer H2. It had a 6-liter V8 engine, but really who cares? Surely, the most important feature to Spears was the Louis Vuitton upholstery on the inside. The exact value of this vehicle is unknown, but, like James’ car, it could be triple the $55,000 base price, if not more.

  8. Busta Rhymes: Wild and crazy hip hop star Busta Rhymes is known for his brash vocal style and his in-your-face lyrics. Car junkies, though, may regale him for his taste in automobiles. Rhymes is the proud owner of a metallic silver Mercedes G500 with all the amenities available. But perhaps the most notable amenity is the studio-quality sound system he had installed by Unique Autosport in New York. Rhymes swears the sound quality is the same as being in a recording studio and that it serves as a perfect testing ground for his music, since he can hear every click and crackle that was picked up while he was recording his tracks. Prices for the G500 start at $89,000 and go up to $111,000 for all the amenities. Rhymes audio installer Will Castro typically charges $40,000 for an install, and you can bet Ryhmes spent a little extra on his flashy rims. Simple mathematics would put this car's value close to $200,000.

  9. Flea: Flea, the edgy guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, made news when he purchased a brand new Tesla Roadster, a completely electric sports car that was first debuted in 2006. Currently, fully-loaded Teslas run about $109,000. Flea said he had to have the car when he saw it and that he was motivated to purchase it mainly for its environmental benefits. And in a posting on Tesla's blog Flea wrote that it drove like a dream and made hardly any noise at all. More specifically, he said it made his Porsche feel like “a golf cart.” This car, developed in part by Lotus, is definitely no golf cart. On a single charge of its battery it can go as fast as 225 mph and gets from 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds. The 100 prototypes made in 2006 sold out quickly; in 2008, the 650 planned also sold out. In 2009, Tesla plans to make 1,500 cars.

  10. Tony Stewart: Car racing great Tony Stewart drives fast cars for a living and even owns a Lamborghini. But the vehicle that really turns heads is his 1984 Cadillac Hearse, tricked out by the same folks who brought you Lebron James' car. Installed in the funeral-ready car is a motorized TV wall between the front and back seats that takes a standard limousine-like window and cranks it up a dozen notches. Instead of a solid piece of plastic, backseat riders can stare at a 32-inch flat screen TV. The front dash was completely ripped out and in its place a command-center arrangement was installed that includes two 12-inch TV monitors, a DVD player, video iPod hook-up, and a top of the line speaker system surrounded by black leather. The sound system features six amps and the designers even installed a hidden mini bar. Luxury and fist-pumping sound throughout makes Stewart's hearse a hands-down one of a kind.

  11. Scott Storch: Hip-hop producer Scott Storch has a cavalcade of fast and fancy cars at his Miami home, which has eight garages to hold all of his beauties. While he counts a Ferrari and an Aston Martin as part of his impressive fleet, Storch's favorite car is a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 – the fastest street-legal car in existence. And with a $1.7 million price tag, it should be. When Storch bought the car in 2007 there were only 70 in existence, part of the reason that he bought it. “I live the shock value,” he told a reporter. “People don't get to see these cars.”

  12. Funkmaster Flex: This longtime hip hop DJ made a name for himself spinning records on the radio and building a music empire on his name. Now he's lending his moniker to something else – pimping out cars for celebrities. Following a lifelong passion for cars, especially Chevys, Flex launched a Spike TV show called “Ride with Funkmaster Flex” and enlisted a host of celebrity clients from Queen Latifah to Eminem to Ludacris. And of course this entrepreneur has his own collection of tricked out cars, including a purple 1970 Plymouth Duster and a 1966 Red Impala SS 396. In addition, Flex released his own 2008 Ford Expedition that comes in a red and black two-tone paint job and black leather seats with red interior. Other features include 20-inch chrome wheels, a 340-watt Audiophile Sound System, third row seating, computer navigation system, and TV with DVD player in the back. Starting price: $75,000.

  13. Snoop Dog: It would be wrong for Snoop Dog not to have a pimped out car. Thankfully, he does. “Tha Doggfather of Rap” has several cars, but perhaps the one most fitting for his personality is his 1967 Pontiac Parsienne Convertible painted in gold with purple trim – the colors of Snoop's favorite sports team, the L.A. Lakers. The best feature? Hydro pumps that let the car jump and bounce up and down and from side to side. The system is controlled by purple and gold zirconium-encrusted controls implanted onto Snoop's dashboard. Snoop declares his heritage on the back window, which is emblazoned with “Tha Doggfather” and “Crip.” The car was designed by Snoop's personal car builder, Big Slice, and their partnership has also resulted in the Snoop DeVille, a customized Cadillac Deville that sells for $80,000.

  14. Green Day: Green Day had a 1968 Mercury Monterey customized for them to use in two music videos – one for the song “Holiday” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” The car was of course painted green and outfitted with custom leopard upholstery on the interior. You won't find any TVs in this car, but you will find some pretty impressive hydraulics, a silver chain link steering wheel with a skull shifter, and the band's name on a cursive, metal emblem on the front hood.

  15. Ludacris: Ludacris rolled up to the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards in a shiny black 1975 Convertible Pontiac Granville with some ostentatious detailing that brought this muscle car to a whole new realm. While these classic cars are available on the used market for as little as $33,000, you can bet the southern rap star paid a hefty sum to make his look so amazing. First off, the 24-inch wheels were installed so that the car rises four feet off the ground. Second, the interior upholstery was done all in black leather and the black and multi-colored Louis Vuitton print, the same fabric used for the drop top. The rest of the car is somewhat bare bones compared to some of the others on the list, though it does have a decent stereo system. But there's not a whole lot of need for extras when you're cruising in classic simplicity like this car.

  16. Shaquille O'Neal: The NBA superstar is well known for his affinity for fancy cars that come with a personal flare. He's got a 1991 convertible Mercedes-Benz Diesel that has the Superman emblem embroidered into his seats and steering wheel. But perhaps one of his most sought-after vehicles is his Lamborghini Gallardo – Lamborghini's most popular sports car that, as of 2008, is the only one to use a V10 engine. Shaq's final price tag is unknown, but the base models can run up to $263,000. He surely paid more than that to have his 2008 model stretched to fit his 7-foot-1-inch stature. The car had to be outfitted with custom doors, a roof, and special windows to lengthen the car by 12 inches.

  17. Paul Wall: Paul Wall, the Houston-based rapper known for his signature grill of silver teeth, is now making grilles of his own for cars. He teamed up with Zenetti to make a custom line of “iced-out” grilles and rims that are covered in cubic zirconium and will come available to fit Cadillac Escapades, coupes, Dodge Magnums, Chrysler 300s, and other SUVs. Wall has his own 2007 Chevy Tahoe tricked out with his flashiest grille and a set of 26-inch, ice-encrusted wheels. The interior features classy two-toned leather upholstery, a state of the art sound system, and diamond-stitched paneling. No word on the total price tag and the Texas resident says the Tahoe isn't even his favorite vehicle. That honor goes to his 1976 Convertible Cadillac El Dorado.

  18. Wyclef Jean: The former Fugee has a collection of flashy cars that includes a Ferrari 360 Spider. But his pride and joy is a 543-horsepower Pagani Zonda C12-S that sells for $350,000. The Italian-made vehicle is often described by automotive reporters as being “ultra-rare,” since few people have heard of the brand and even less own one. No more than 25 models have been made each year since the car was released in 1999. The car goes from 0 to 60 in 3.3 seconds and can reach a speed of 215 mph. But while Jean loves himself a flashy and expensive car, he is embarking on a new project to build replicas of cars like the Zonda that regular people can afford.

  19. Dwayne Wade: This Miami Heat basketball player loves automobiles as much as his teammate Shaquille O'Neal, and in 2006 he was even crowned the “King of Bling” at the GM All Car Show – an invite-only affair where celebrities and car enthusiasts showcase their most over-the-top vehicles in a competition for the most ostentatious. Wade's white 2006 Hummer H2 SUT took the cake that year. The base price for that vehicle is about $53,000, but it's assured that Wade wouldn't have taken home the award he did without putting at least that much extra into tricking out the truck. In addition to the Hummer, Wade owns a pearl blue Cadillac Escalade EXT that sits on matching 26-inch wheels. Wade was also tapped by Lincoln recently to represent the Navigator in TV ads.

  20. Missy Elliott: Missy Elliott, who is said to own 1,000 pairs of Adidas sneakers, seems to be also madly collecting something else, as well – cars! In fact, her car addiction is so bad she told reporters that her mother has begged her to stop purchasing them. In addition to her 2004 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, 2004 Rolls Royce Phantom, and 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo, Elliott also has a 1979 tricked out, bright purple and chrome Ford Mustang. Elliott says it's the car that gets the most attention on the street. Her fleet of automobiles is easily worth more than $1 million, if not more. She confesses to have purchased more than three cars in one year, including a $5,600 upgrade to a scooter that she rode once, crashed, and then trashed. Disposable income just took on a whole new meaning.

  21. Stephon Marbury: This Knicks player took his love for cars so far that he even invented his own automobile, the Viant SLV 365, which is a luxurious SUV combo of a Cadillac Escalade and a Rolls Royce Phantom. The 500-horsepower engine is included for those looking for power, while other features cater to the child in us all – such as the Playstation 2, satellite TV and wireless Internet. It even has a wine cellar and humidor. At a price of more than $300,000, the Viant is not made for laymen, but Marbury does count celebrities like Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z among his clients.

  22. Edward Norton: Edward Norton is no Nelly. He doesn’t have a bunch of big-wheeled, chrome-covered vehicles. But he was selected by BMW to be one of the celebrity drivers of the BMW Hydrogen 7, the very first hydrogen-powered luxury sedan. The car is driven by a combination of hydrogen and fuel and emits nothing but water vapor. There are only 100 models in existence and they’re not for sale. The German car company has tapped notable celebrities, like Norton, to drive the car in a huge PR push. While some auto bloggers contest just how environmentally sound the car is, since it isn’t; a zero emission car and does have its challenges, BMW contends it will be the future of automobiles.

  23. Magic Johnson: The former L.A. Lakers sensation is just the latest in sports stars to design their own cars. Johnson joined forces with Lincoln and DUB Magazine to create the “Magic” Dub Edition Lincoln Mark LT, a luxury pick-up truck rthat has 24-inch rims, suede and leather interior, a 15-inch flip-down TV, as well as TVs inset in the back of each seat’s headrest. It’s got a 5.4 liter, V-8 engine with 300 horsepower. The car was auctioned off to benefit Johnson’s charitable foundation for education, but suggested retail places it in the $65,000 range.

  24. Fergie: Fergie, the only girl-member of the hip hop group The Black Eyed Peas, received a pretty tricked out Hummer not too long ago that came with a custom grille by Grillcraft Sport Grilles and drop-down steps with her name engraved on them in Old English. The car came with the works in the audio and visual departments, and some pretty sweet leather and suede upholstery. But alas the Fergalicious one deemed the Hummer not her style and put it up for auction in 2007. It brought in almost $70,000, which she promptly donated to Global Green USA.

  25. David Beckham: When your salary is a whopping $250 million, a $400,000 car isn’t going to put much of a dent in your savings. Which is exactly why David Beckham of the L.A. Galaxy recently purchased a Porsche 911 Cabriolet for $200,000 and then put another $200,000 of upgrades into it, like custom upholstery and a special all-black exterior. The car comes with a 3.6 liter engine and an overboost function that can make it go even faster. Oh, and there’s a compartment for extra luggage, which his wife Victoria “Posh” Beckham can use.

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