What Would History Drive?
The Vehicle Choices of Thirteen Mega-Famous People
Alexander the Great – Hummer H2
Alexander the Great was born in 356 BCE and he became King of Macedonia in 336. He led his armies on a series of conquering campaigns that took him across the Middle East and down into India. He loved cheese, horses, and the color green. Alexander’s army was undefeated and he only turned back toward Greece when his soldiers mutinied, demanding to go home. He turned from a life of perpetual conquest to a life of perpetual partying and ultimately drank himself to death.
As the most powerful man of his time Alexander could have any horse or chariot he desired. If he could pick from today’s selection of motor vehicles, though, he might appreciate the power and versatility of the Hummer. Drawing deeply on its military roots the hummer appeals to active, adventurous people with ambition and a zest for living life to its fullest.
Some of the famous celebrities today who drive Hummers include David Beckham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, LeBron James, Mike Tyson, and Dennis Rodman.
Caligula – Rolls Royce Phantom V Limo
Caligula was born in 12 CE, became the third emperor of Rome in 37. He reigned until 41. He often dressed in silks and jewels and he rolled around in gold. Caligula lavished affection on his horse Incitatus and he engaged in debauchery with all the women around him, including his own sisters and the wives of his soldiers. In the end it was Caligula’s own bodyguards who murdered him because of the way he humiliated them.
Historians and medical experts alike have suggested many possible explanations for Caligula’s behavior but he was gaudy, irreverent, and completely egotistical, even declaring himself to be a god.
There may not be a standard model car that would fit Caligula’s personality. He might have preferred a convertible Rolls Royce limousine made from gold with pearl door handles and diamond styling.
Cleopatra – Lamborghini Diablo
Born in 69 BCE, this lady of the Nile was highly intelligent, well educated, and able to speak many languages. She was the first member of her family, the descendants of Alexander’s general Ptolemy, to actually learn and speak the Egyptian language. By the time Romans like Julius Caesar and Marc Antony entered her life she was able to speak Latin, too.
Cleopatra was a mistress of palace intrigue and strategy. She chose powerful allies and was attracted to powerful men. She also took great risks, such as having herself delivered secretly to Caesar in order to forge an alliance with him. Cleopatra died in 30 BCE under mysterious circumstances after she and Marc Antony were defeated by Octavian (the future Augustus Caesar).
There is only one car that would suit such a dynamic lady: a purple Lamborghini Diablo. Purple was Cleopatra’s favorite color and the Diablo is one of the most highly coveted ultra sport cars. This kind of luxury vehicle would have graced her garage to be sure.
Elizabeth I – Cadillac Escalade
Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) was one of the most respected European monarchs of her day. She grew up amid palace conspiracies and factional wars. She was only a few generations removed from the terrible “Wars of the Roses” that divided English society for many years. As Queen Elizabeth reserved her judgment for as long as possible, and she always maintained her dignity. Her favorite colors are said to have been white and black.
But in private life she was very active, loving dance and horseback riding. In fact, she was quite daring in some ways and had a reputation among those who knew her for temper as well as her rapid pace and style of speech. Elizabeth spent many of her pre-regnal years in semi-exile or royal captivity. When her half-sister Queen Mary had Elizabeth confined to the Tower of London (a royal palace, not a prison) Elizabeth stubbornly sat down on the steps and refused to go no further. Since no one could touch her royal person to compel her to continue moving the Constable and his staff had to wait until Elizabeth was ready (perhaps cold and hungry) to take up her new residence.
Her willfulness, playfulness, and physical capability mark Elizabeth as an “outdoor girl” in some ways. But she was also very conscious of her public image. Her best match would probably be a Cadillac Escalade, which combines the rugged characteristics of a pickup truck with the elegance of a luxury sport utility vehicle. A black Escalade would seem a very stately vehicle indeed.
Ferdinand and Isabella – Mercedes-Benz S600
Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452-1516) and Isabella of Castile (1451-1504) were second cousins whom fate (or God) had decided should marry despite all opposition. They were betrothed when she was six years old (he was only five). Because of political intrigues between Portugal and Castile, Isabella was supported by rebellious nobles who distrusted her half-brother, King Henry IV. Henry had married Joan of Portugal but rumor held that their daughter Joanna’s true father was a Portuguese nobleman.
Henry attempted to arrange marriages for Isabella that would help him against his enemies but because of the rebel support she had Isabella was able to refuse all unwanted marriage proposals. When she was 17 Isabella married Ferdinand in secret. After Henry’s death Portugal attempted to put Joanna on the throne but Isabella used her influence to win over supporters and Ferdinand led her armies to victory. The final battle of the war, near Toro, was indecisive. Each side defeated part of the other side’s army. But as Portugal reorganized its troops, Ferdinand cleverly sent messages to all the cities in Castile proclaiming his victory. Support for the Portuguese invasion melted away.
Of course history also remembers Ferdinand and Isabella for defeating the Kingdom of Granada, the last Moorish kingdom in Iberia, and for financing Christopher Columbus’ voyages to the New World. Although Ferdinand and Isabella started the Spanish Inquisition and supported the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from the Spanish lands, she was moved to free the few Native Americans who were brought to Spain as slaves and had them returned to their lands. Isabella earned a life-long reputation for piety and sanctity. Her favorite color was green and she loved jewels and ornate dresses.
Ferdinand and Isabella laid the foundations for modern Spain but they made careful choices in everything. There may be no better car for them than the current primary choice of the Spanish monarchy: the Mercedes-Benz S600. They even come in green.
George Washington – Jeep Cherokee
Born in 1732, died in 1799, George Washington is one of the most revered Americans in history. He is the subject of more myths than history but his life is very well documented. He grew up in Virginia and worked as a surveyor. He also served in the British army during the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years’ War). And when the thirteen colonies needed a commander-in-chief for their Continental Army they turned to Washington. Washington was elected to the Presidency in 1789 and 1792. He refused to run for a third term.
Sources disagree on what Washington’s favorite color was. Some say it was blue, some say it was red, and some say it was verdigris green. Well, when it came to horses he preferred to raise and breed white and grey animals. Washington favored a strong national government with few foreign obligations. He advised Americans not to develop political parties, too. He was staunchly “middle of the road” in many ways. As a slave-owning plantation man he came to believe that slavery was wrong and taught his own slaves trade skills so they could support themselves once they were freed.
Washington was an outdoors man by all standards. He loved to hunt and fish but he also personally directed the affairs of his estate, Mount Vernon. In fact, Washington contracted a serious illness by venturing out into harsh winter weather to oversee work on his estate, and he died within two days. His last words were “’Tis well.”
A tall man, Washington often told people he was only six feet tall. To this day historians cannot be sure of exactly how tall he was. He was methodical, resolute, and well educated. He had a reputation for reading as many as ten newspapers in an evening. The best fit for a man like Washington would be a rugged vehicle like the Jeep Cherokee, undoubtedly in a plain grey shade.
Jesus of Nazareth – Standard passenger van
line-height: 1.8;”>Historians believe Jesus of Nazareth was born sometime around the years 7-4 BCE but his death date is accepted as 33 CE. Despite the fact that he is one of the most written-about men in history, we really do not know much about the personality and personal preferences of Jesus of Nazareth. Many people regard him to be the Son of God; many others feel he was only one of several prophets of God. Some people doubt he even lived.
We are told that Jesus grew up in a family of carpenters and that he practiced this trade until he began his ministry. Historians say that carpenters living in the 1st century CE would have been strong men, and they would have used very simple tools requiring patience and skill. As a teacher Jesus preached forgiveness, tolerance, and respect for one’s neighbors. When challenged by religious groups he demonstrated skill and wisdom, avoiding their logical traps and sometimes revealing their own hypocrisy.
Raised a devout Jew, he would have learned to read and write so that he could read scripture in the synagogues. Jesus of Nazareth is also said to have walked everywhere he want, except when he entered Jerusalem for the last time.
He lived a humble life and did not pursue wealth. In keeping with his mode of traveling with a dozen or more disciples, he probably would only drive a simple 15-seat passenger van today, perhaps even used. Any plain color would do, perhaps white, but he would not be pretentious.
Leonardo da Vinci – 1967 Corvette Sting Ray
Leonardo da Vinci lived from 1452 to 1519 and thus was a contemporary of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Although he is most famous for his paintings, Leonardo is generally recognized as a true “Renaissance man”, learned in science, philosophy, mathematics, literature, engineering, history, and cartography among other topics. He is said to have had a tremendous sense of humor, even to the point of executing gaudy jokes upon his guests. He was also a vegetarian and an animal lover.
Unfortunately there is no record of Leonardo’s favorite color. However the Mona Lisa was his favorite painting and Pascal Cotte of Lumiere Technology set out to discover the painting’s original colors in 2006. The result of his work fascinated the world, featuring rich blues and deep browns.
Would the man who came up with the first known design in history for an armored vehicle really drive something off the lot? Leonardo was a tinkerer and inventor. He might design his own car but maybe, just maybe, he would buy a 1967 sky blue Corvette and restore it to pristine condition just to prove to himself that it could be done.
Ludwig van Beethoven – Spyker C8 Spyder
Can a deaf man drive? (Yes, all the time). Ludwig van Beethoven lived from 1770 to 1827 and he is remembered as the guy who wrote a fifth symphony (along with a great deal more music). But we also know that he went completely deaf before he finished composing his great music. A brilliant composer and musician, Beethoven was also considered arrogant by many of his contemporaries. His most flattering biographers say he had a strong personality and that he was very determined.
But he also knew humility. The last time he met the great composer Joseph Haydn, Beethoven went down on one knee and kissed him on the hand and forehead. The aged Haydn had been Beethoven’s teacher but Beethoven never thought he could be good enough to be Haydn’s pupil. Some biographers, however, interpret Beethoven’s reluctance to call himself Haydn’s pupil a refusal despite the great esteem in which he held the elder man.
People are not sure what Beethoven’s favorite color was. Some say green, others say yellow. Artist Joseph Karl Stieler painted Beethoven with a red scarf. Beethoven supposedly invested in new suits and silk scarves in 1810 when he set about wooing Austrian musician Therese Malfatti, whom he never married.
Beethoven would want to drive a car that was stylish and distinctive. Perhaps the Spyker C8 Spyder would be such a car. It’s a unique, exotic car that exudes class and draws attention. It even comes in green and yellow.
Michelangelo – Rolls-Royce Phantom II
Michelangelo lived from 1475 to 1564 and he was a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci. Biographers say the two men were very much unalike. And though he is remembered often for his paintings in the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo was first and foremost a sculptor. He was passionate, disciplined, pious, and dedicated to understanding the human form. Although critics say he did not paint women honestly, his Madonna and Child (in Bruges) is considered one of his most outstanding pieces.
Michelangelo would not want a car merely for performance. He would want it to be a work of art with strong sculpted lines that flow naturally. One obvious choice would be a Rolls-Royce Phantom II, like the car in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. If you could afford to buy this vehicle you could have the body custom-made to fit your specification. What else could a Michelangelo ask for?
Plato – Audi A7
Plato is the most well-known of the Greek philosophers. He lived from about 428 BCE to about 347 BCE, although we’re not sure of his birth and death dates. He was born into a wealthy family and was himself a wealthy man as well as a philosopher. He was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle; together these three men are deemed the fathers of western Philosophy.
Also a mathematician, Plato was brilliant and learned. He founded an academy in Athens (the Academy), which taught intellectuals for hundreds of years. He has been described as forward thinking and conservative, adventurous and strategically coy. He had influence among the leaders of Athens even though he sometimes challenged their wisdom. He explored themes in art, science, spirituality, and civilization through his work.
Plato strived to explain the universe in rational terms but he blended his ideas with a form of humanistic metaphor. Later in life he began to question some of his earlier ideas so he was an advocate of critical thinking. As a man of means and intellectual curiosity, Plato probably would have loved a car with gadgets – and leather seats. He might not be ready for a self-driving car but a car with a full navigation system would appeal to him.
Vlad the Impaler – Volvo V60
Born in the year 1431, Vlad III Tepes (“the Impaler”) was a Romanian prince whose father left him and his brother at the Turkish court to secure a peace between Wallachia and the powerful Ottoman Turk empire. When he came to power, Vlad murdered unreliable nobles who boasted about having seen at least 7 princes of Wallachia in their lifetimes. When he refused to pay tribute to the Ottomans they sent an army to punish him. Vlad ambushed the Turks and displayed their bodies on stakes as a warning to other Turks.
Although he was admitted to the Christian Order of the Dragon and recruited for a crusade against the Turks, Vlad earned a reputation for dealing harshly with the cruel and selfish nobles and Saxon merchants who treated his people badly. Although popular with the peasants Vlad punished them cruelly if they broke laws.
He lacked the wealth to maintain a large army and relied on allies and loans. When his money ran out, Vlad was betrayed by one of his own allies to the King of Hungary. Soon after being freed Vlad returned to Wallachia and started another war with the Turks. He had too few troops, though, and is believed to have died in battle.
Although remembered by history as a cruel, evil man Vlad III Dracul was revered in his time for his military prowess and his successes against the Turks. He spoke their language fluently and used that and his knowledge of their military customs against them. He was a pious Christian and he founded a monastery at Comana. His name is associated with many landmarks in Romania. Some other rulers of the time were about as cruel to their enemies as Vlad was, but only he is remembered by the name “The Impaler”.
What kind of car would Vlad drive? Instead of the classic Dracula mobile people should think of Vlad as a nobleman of limited means. He was a soldier and in some ways a scholar. He would have demanded luxury suitable to his station. He might be a Volvo V60 kind of guy. The Volvo has a reputation for being durable, rugged, and stylish.