Pablo Escobar Gaviria was a man of the people. A politician, a race car driver, and all-around good guy philanthropist. Across Colombia in the 1970s and 80s, Escobar earned the love of people everywhere for his generosity and patronage of the arts. He also earned their fear. Mostly because he ran the Medellin Cartel that eventually came to control 80 percent of the entire world's cocaine supply. By the time real consequences started happening for Escobar, he may have been the world's richest man, with a net worth of at least many billions of dollars. His end came after years spent on the run. When CIA-financed paramilitaries chased the overweight 40-something drug lord across multiple rooftops and shot him down with submachine guns. Before that, however, the guy got a hell of a car collection put together. Here's what he kept in the garage.
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This is exactly the car you’d expect a South American drug lord to own. Fast and expensive, the 1974 Porsche 911 RSR in Pablo Escobar’s collection was arguably his pride and joy. Escobar reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting this car, much more than the list value of the model. This was partly because it was in mint condition, partly because he was insanely rich and didn’t care, but mainly because this specific car came with pedigree papers like a thoroughbred racehorse. This was the car Emerson Fittipaldi drove in the first International Race of Champions (IROC). Later on, Fittipaldi totaled the car on the barrier, but a lot of money went into completely restoring it, only to have the drug lord snap it up for his own collection. Long after Escobar went to heaven to be with the angels, this car hit the auction again, where it sold for $875,000 in 2012.
Escobar picked up another Porsche racing model after the 935V swept to victory in the 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. This time he decided to save several hundred thousand dollars and skip the auction for the specific car Weinberg used in the race, but he did buy an exact clone that had been customized down to the upholstery and the 3.0 liter turbocharged flat-six, which was good for 560 horsepower in a frame that was light enough for a healthy man to carry on his back. The only difference, apart from the serial numbers, was the big block letters spelling ESCOBAR across the top of the windshield. After he became the Western Hemisphere’s most wanted man, Pablo didn’t really get a chance to drive the ESCOBAR Porsche around town anymore.
The 1946 Chrysler DeSoto was pure class from the ground up. Bulbous curves all over the body, bright whitewall tires and plush leather seating in the Custom model give the car what a salesman from the ‘40s would have called “ride.” Escobar’s model was electric blue and carried an L-head 236.7 V6 powerplant under its all-steel hood that pushed 109 hp down to the wheels. It’s possible Escobar just liked this car for its looks, but knowing him the way we – via the CIA’s psychological profilers – have come to know him, it’s actually likely he bought a DeSoto because it’s named after a Spanish Conquistador and Escobar liked to think of himself as a latter-day Cortes, albeit with a slightly lower body count.
This one is sad. News reports always claimed that Escobar had a Mercedes 300SL, but that’s fake news. The car he actually owned didn’t have the vents up front that made the 300s look so hungry and cool as they did in the promotional materials, so it was probably a 190. The reason we can’t be sure what it was is that Pablo chose to drive this car into Cali, Colombia to his family’s apartment on January 12, 1988. Leaving the car parked outside overnight, it was blown the hell up by a bomb a little after 5:30 the next morning. Nobody was sure who planted the bomb – Pablo did have enemies, after all – but whoever did it must have been really pissed off. The blast gouged a crater 13 feet deep and 25 feet across, scraped the front off of a six-story apartment block and injured six people. In the aftermath, authorities speculated that the bombing might have been the work of a rival cartel, the CIA, an American-backed group that called itself – no kidding – “People Enraged at Pablo Escobar (PEPE),” or even a group nobody had ever heard of called the National Socialist Colombian Workers’ and Students’ Movement. That’s right. It’s possible South American Nazis blew up Pablo Escobar’s sleek Mercedes 190SL... and a bunch of other things within a five-mile radius. For what it’s worth, the Mercedes did take the damage like a champ and come through recognizable. German engineering, amirite, Colombian Nazis?
Pablo Escobar had a hilariously colossal ego, and he identified with his fellow gangsters as if they were members of a lost tribe together. Put those two factors together, add in a flair for the dramatic, a dash of machismo and an unlimited budget, and you have Pablo Escobar driving around Medellín in a clone of Al Capone’s ride from the Prohibition Era. This wasn’t Capone’s personal car, which may actually have gone to a museum after Capone died of syphilis, but a replica with period-authentic parts. Another period-authentic touch was the row of machine gun bullets that had been fired into the driver’s side of the car by Escobar himself since you’re really not a bootlegger unless your ride has been Bonnie-and-Clyded by a Tommy gun. To Cadillac’s credit, the hose job doesn’t seem to have damaged the engine or other vital parts, though finding the right color of ostrich skin to fix the upholstery must have been hard in Colombia.
Even a murderous, bloodthirsty drug lord has to get groceries sometimes, and the roads in Colombia aren’t the best. To that end, Pablo Escobar had himself a nice, bouncy Toyota FJ Land Cruiser. In fact, he bought a fleet of these tough off-roaders for his employees to drive along established smuggling routes at night. All that extra cargo space in the back came in handy, since a back of the envelope calculation indicates an average Land Cruiser can carry $50 million worth of cocaine in a single trip without removing the spare tire or folding down the seats. Of course, most of Escobar’s FJs carried just one or two kilos per trip – which all by itself was enough to buy another Land Cruiser – and most of the shipments got through. One mistake Pablo should have considered is that the general run of Colombian citizen can’t afford a Land Cruiser. When authorities thought of this, they realized they actually didn’t have to get warrants or do any investigations, but they could just pull over literally any Land Cruiser they saw, since Escobar owned most of the FJs in the country, and it was a fair bet they were all hauling coke.
This crappy little 1,100-cc was a slowpoke hatchback that managed to show Pablo Escobar’s worst traits. Okay, his second- and third-worst traits. His worst traits were that he had people tortured to death. His brief racing career was almost as bad though. Escobar entered this singularly unimpressive little French disposable diaper into several races around Colombia while he was still doing his man of the people routine. Because the car has no guts and corners like a scared cat – and because he was never a race car driver – Escobar never got close to a legitimate win. Being the guy who sells 80 percent of the world’s cocaine does bring a particular skill set, however, so Escobar the sore loser started winning like a drug lord. Wherever he raced, rivals’ cars kept breaking right before the race and developing mysterious little gremlins that kept them out of competition. Some of these gremlins must have been fed after midnight, too, because at least one rival driver who talked smack about Escobar’s skills wound up in a garbage can. Two garbage cans, actually.
This was the limousine model King Idris of Libya ordered and paid for with his stolen oil money in the year Qadhafi had him killed. It was also favored among Gulf royalty and the occasional Eastern European communist dictator. Long and wide, this stretch limo occupied the road it was on as if it was designed for use in a motorcade. Given that he thought of himself as a sort of underground president of Colombia, it goes without saying that Escobar owned one of these, just as it also goes without saying that he had the full options package, from a pudding-soft leather interior to a built-in car phone (very high tech in the ‘70s) and a 6.3-liter V8 that could push 250 hp through the four-speed automatic gearbox. Maybe even more impressive for a car from that era, its air conditioning actually worked, unlike certain Ford Lincoln Town Cars we could name. This jewel of a ride got fried in the big Cali bombing. All its guts were knocked out, the paint was vaporized, the moon roof went to the actual moon, and a fire burned up all the wood inlay and leather appointments inside. Literally, nothing was left of the tires or the glasswork that had been on the luxury car. Pablo Escobar, doing a pretty fair Pablo Escobar impression, had the wreck hauled to his estate at Hacienda Napoles – which he didn’t even live in anymore because he was a fugitive – and mounted it on a display plinth outside as a taunt to his many enemies. His many, many, many, many enemies. Like the ones that eventually killed him. Still a ballsy move.
Pablo Escobar picked up this rear-engine/rear-wheel-drive French fry for racing after he figured out how much his Renault sucked. This one was better, though it had a more confused upbringing than Heather has Two Mommies. Originally conceived in Italy as a Fiat, the design of this tiny sedan bounced to French automaker Simca for development as a passenger car and, improbably, a four-door family saloon. Racing adjustments were courtesy of Abarth, with designs and concepts eventually being pirated by the Soviet Union for development of the laughably hideous Trabant. Escobar seems to have thought the Simca would make a great choice for his cousin to race as part of his Deposit Cundinamarca team. Escobar’s cousin, Gustavo Gaviria, went on to lose the Marlboro Cup in it.
This was supposed to be Escobar’s favorite car, which reveals an oddly out of character good taste and moderation. When it was introduced for the 1964 model year, the 356 was a bit of a minor technical marvel, what with having all-disc brakes and a set of shock absorbers that rode like a waterbed over washboard roads. It’s not overpowered though. Even with a Daimler SP250 V8 in the back, this lightweight little zipper never tops 75 hp. Despite that, the model was nicknamed “the giant killer” for how it spent half of the 1960s winning races against all comers until the Mustangs and Camaros came along to put its lights out with big block engines and three times the power. This was the second casualty of the Cali bombing. It didn’t come through as well as the Mercedes though. You can still see it today in a Colombian museum, where the 50 or so pounds of metal parts they scraped off the road bear the somehow fitting caption: “Only these scraps remain.” Hits you right in the feels, you know?