Gold-Plated Vehicles: Cars, Planes and Yachts Which Take Luxury to Glittering New Heights
The lustre and allure of gold has captivated the minds of man since time immemorial. Its seductive colour, remarkable malleability and ability to withstand the effects of time have made this precious metal – quite literally – the gold standard of opulence, luxury and audacious beauty throughout the centuries.
Recent technological advances have realised many of the most decadent dreams of the global elite, enabling those with a taste for gold to bring this most coveted of elements to a vast array of objects and possessions. Specialised designers – most notably in the United Arab Emirates – have demonstrated how almost anything and everything can be gilded or gold plated, bringing new opportunities to display wealth and opulent style for those who never settle for second-best.
While a gold-plated smartphone or timepiece is within the reach of many looking to bring that unmistakable lustre to their life, a gold-plated vehicle elevates the love of gold to wholly new levels. To rev the engine of a gold-plated car, take to the skies in a private jet glittering with gold, or even head to sea on a yacht featuring ostentatious gold detailing (or more, as we’ll see…) makes a statement unlike any other.
While gold-plated vehicles are gradually – very, very gradually – becoming more commonplace thanks to new techniques in metalworking, they still remain a precious and eye-widening rarity, even among the collections of the world’s wealthiest individuals. With their irresistible appeal, head-turning ostentatious attitude and undying commitment to the headiest heights of decadence, gold-plating a vehicle remains an undisputable zenith of luxury – let’s dive a little deeper into a selection of gilded examples, and pause in wonder at a truly exclusive collection of prized possessions.
Gold-Plated Cars: Peerless Luxury on Wheels
Gilded cars aren’t as new a phenomenon as one might think. There’s a rich and opulent history of luxury cars – most notably, a series of Rolls Royce special releases in the mid-20th century featuring gold wrapping – in various private collections worldwide, and in the realm of Ultra High Net Worth individuals, the sky has always been the limit when it comes to decadent custom-made supercars.
However, recent years (and a whole host of new gold-plating techniques and technologies) have opened the floodgates for what is possible in this particular field. While once, gold cars were generally coated in an ultra-fine film of the precious metal, new examples of this extreme in luxury have included hypercars featuring genuine gold-plating, solid gold components and other innovative uses of this most desirable of natural elements.
- The 22-Carat Porsche Boxster
Let’s begin with a somewhat intriguing release, from the German town of Pforzheim. Famed for the quality of its local gold and the jewellery industry which grew up around it, Pforzheim rocketed into the world of contemporary luxury in 2005 when Visualis, a local company, announced it would produce a record-breaking Porsche Boxster custom car. Unlike other vehicles which came before and featured a golden wrap, this Porsche would be a concept car coated in real gold – a bonafide leap forward in an industry which has since sprouted wings and reached hitherto unimaginable heights.
Visualis commissioned goldsmith Bernd Hoeger to cover the Porsche in beaten gold, and after a year of groundbreaking work, the vehicle was revealed. Covered from nose to tail in 22-carat gold – from the steering wheel to the custom rims and everything in between – this truly was a pioneering project which highlighted what was now possible in the contemporary alchemy of goldworking. The curious part? The price of the project was never revealed, and details of where the Boxter is today are decidedly shadowy.
- Gold-Plated Bugatti Veyron
The gold car collection of Turki Bin Abdullah from the House of Saud is perhaps the ultimate example of an obsession made possible by a net worth of $1.4 trillion, and pole position in an oil dynasty which has never shied from ostentatious displays of wealth. With over a dozen gold-wrapped cars in his fleet, Turki Bin Abdullah’s collection would warrant an entire article on its own, and his gold-plated Lamborghini regularly turns heads as it zooms its way through the streets of London and Dubai.
However, most supercar lovers would agree that it’s the House of Saud’s Bugatti Veyron which takes the crown. Arguably one of the most beautiful vehicles ever made, this example of shoot-for-the-moon vehicular design was created entirely from scratch, introducing new concepts to the already ambitious supercar brand. A top speed of 258 MPH and boasting a 8.0 litre quad-turbocharged engine would be enough to make any car lover’s heart flutter… but Abdullah’s decision to have the car gold-chrome plated and fitted out with detailing in precious gemstones takes the luxury to a new dimension. Supposedly valued at $10 million, it’s one of the most valuable cars in the world today, and one which set a new standard for automobile opulence.
- Tesla Model Excellence 24K
t will come as no real surprise that there’s a Tesla on this list – few (if any) contemporary car producers have captivated the imagination of the elite in such a way, and innovative use of materials and concepts runs through the brand DNA in ways nobody can fail to be impressed by.
In association with Caviar, the Russian electroplating specialist that produces an array of eye-watering high-end products coated in gold, the Tesla Model Excellence 24K is a world first for the car brand. Plated in 24 carat gold, the Model Excellence 24K is, by some distance, the world’s most expensive electric car, limited to a 99 vehicle run for those in search of the future of ‘sophistication, luxury and self-confidence’, according to the Caviar press release.
With a grille, side skirt, front and rear bumpers, discs and mirrors dipped in gold, it’s a statement vehicle which matches innovative technology with timeless decadence. The choice to use 24 carat gold (the purest of the pure) is a testament to the brand’s commitment to perfection, and one which guarantees its place in the history books.
The Airborne Extravagance of Gilded Planes
For the uppermost crust of one-percenters, gold cars are a mere gateway to a realm of gold-plated vehicles, and among the most coveted are those which leave terra firma behind as they thrust their way into the skies.
While there has not yet been an aircraft made that’s literally coated, plated or gilded in gold – due, most likely, to the various limitations inherent to aeroplane design and weight distribution, etc – there are several examples which have more than compensated for this in their interiors. Gold-soaked private jets are perhaps the ultimate calling-card of the super rich, offering a liberated opulence for the individual’s most exclusive inner circle that no land-based vehicle could hope to match.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most renowned examples of airborne luxury, and the way gold has been interwoven in their design.
- The Sultan of Brunei’s Boeing 747-400
The Sultan of Brunei, who topped the world’s rich lists for decades throughout the later 20th century, is renowned for his indulgent eccentricities and remarkable collections of ultra-valuable vehicles (including a gold-bedecked Silver Spur II Rolls Royce which would have slotted well into the previous section).
Supposedly worth up to $40 billion, he’s the proud owner of the most expensive private jet in the world – a monumental Boeing 747-400 that’s been dubbed the ‘floating palace’ as a result of the sheer volume of gold coating and creating its decadent interior. Reportedly, the ruler paid somewhere in the region of $400 million for the plane itself… and then spent $120 million extra on customising the vehicle to his precise and eye-popping specifications. The Sultan’s wishes? To cover every interior surface in gold plating, custom-made Lalique crystal detailing, tropical hardwood and artisan carpetry.
- Donald Trump’s Record-Breaking Jet
Famed as much for his audacious love of gold and finery as for his relatively short-lived political career, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Donald Trump’s private jet breaks a slew of records. Bought for $100 million and the size of three regular private jets – the largest of its kind in the world – the former president’s favourite aircraft pulls no punches when it comes to gilded glamour in the interior.
According to various reports, the plane boasts pure gold light sockets, seat buckles, bathroom sinks and faucets, and the individual cabins are also trimmed in the precious metal. Elsewhere inside, lucky fliers will find customised cream leather seats, mahogany cabinets and desks, and a spacious master bedroom complete with waterfall shower. The entire renovation of the jet supposedly cost the Trump estate $250 million, but is currently in need of a replacement Rolls Royce engine, meaning it’s presently grounded at a private lot in Orange County.
Golden Yachts: A Status Symbol Like No Other
When the unrivalled freedom of the open ocean meets the unlimited imagination of the global elite, the results are rarely less than spectacular. Indeed, the world of high-end superyachting is one which almost annually outdoes itself when it comes to luxury and sophistication, and regularly raises an already lofty bar into stratospheric levels of opulence and glamour.
While there are several superyachts which feature millions of dollars’ worth of gold in their interiors, there are a small collection which utilise this precious metal in altogether more innovative and unmissable ways. For our final dive into the world of gold-plated vehicles, let’s head out onto the waves for a pairing of ocean-going vessels quite unlike any other.
- The History Supreme: History in the Making
Shrouded in mystery and featuring some of the most astonishing luxury details seen anywhere, ever, the History Supreme is a record-breaking superyacht supposedly owned by a Malaysian businessman with an undisputed Midas touch. One hundred feet in length, the History Supreme was designed by Stuart Huges, who was directed to make use of – in all seriousness – 100,000 kilograms of solid gold and platinum.
The result is utterly remarkable. Taking three years to create, the yacht is reported to have a full deck coated in precious metals, and a dining area, railings, and even an anchor crafted from gold. Perhaps most astonishing (and with the greatest visual impact), the hull of the vessel is wrapped in a layer of gold, and the master bedroom exceeds all former notions of luxury by boasting walls of meteorite and – again, in all seriousness – Tyrannosaurus Rex bone. The world’s most valuable ship, The History Supreme looks to hold onto that title for some time.
- Khalilah: All-Carbon, All Luxury.
Those who witnessed Khalilah moored at the Monaco Yacht Show must have believed Auric Goldfinger himself had turned up for the festivities. The world’s first all-carbon yacht, valued at $31 million, is a showstopper of a vessel, coated as it is in custom Cordova Gold from bow to stern in a dazzling display of ostentation and wealth.
This gem of a ship isn’t just a phenomenal treat for the eyes – it’s a bonafide technological marvel, constructed using ultra-light all-carbon composites that offer optimal speeds of 26 knots on the open waves. Paving the way for a new generation of speedy superyachts, it pulls no punches when it comes to opulence and glamour, with interiors fashioned from rare and valuable materials glittering throughout its two master suites and five guest quarters.
Gold Plated Vehicles: A New Zenith of Global Luxury
If there’s one truth about luxury consumerism, it’s that too much will never quite be enough. As soon as a new threshold in the extremes of extravagance has been crossed, another is rapidly set – resulting in the ‘gold standard’ of luxury becoming ever greater, ever more impressive, and ever more inspiring to those who seek the utmost in all.
Gold plated vehicles represent perhaps the most audacious aspect of this truth; new approaches to electroplating, new alloys pushing the possibilities of what gold can do, and new high water marks to attain and overtake continue to take this particular corner of the luxury industries further.
Indeed, when it comes to gilded cars, planes, yachts and more, we truly have entered the golden age of innovation.