Fashion mogul Ralph Lauren is well known as a man of taste in the style world, but he's also demonstrated ample taste in another area: car collecting. He's one of the most celebrated collectors of expensive and rare automobiles in the world. His collection was, at one time, the subject of an exclusive museum exhibition in Paris, but checking out some of the highlights below is hopefully the next best thing.
Ralph Lauren began collecting cars back in the early 1970s, when his fashion fortunes first started rising. Among his earliest acquisitions, listed in a Forbes feature on Lauren's car habit, include a 1971 Mercedes 280SE 4.5 convertible, a 1979 Porsche 930, and a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing coupe that he bought in the early 80s.
Since then, Lauren's passion for cars has allowed his collection to balloon to more than 70 cars. His collection was the subject of a museum exhibition in Paris in 2011, seven years after it was featured in a book. In that book, Lauren spoke on his car collecting philosophy:
"I've always seen cars as art. Moving art. While friends of mine were into paintings, I somehow felt that the real beauty of owning a rare and magnificently designed car was the fact that you can use it. You can look at it, enjoy its visual qualities, as with a painting, but you can also get inside and drive it – which means both enjoying the drive itself and going somewhere with it."
As for the cars themselves, many of the most impressive pieces were featured in that museum exhibition, including both rare limited editions and one-of-a-kind historical pieces. A 1929 Bentley 4.5-liter 'Blower,' for instance, that was driven in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1930, 1932, and 1933. Also of interest to old-school racing fans is the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Mille Miglia, revered as one of the greatest sports cars of the pre-WWII period. Then there's the prize of his collection, a 1938 Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic, one of just four ever built:
Lauren's vintage car collection spans through the 1950s and beyond, with such highlights as 1955 Mercedes Gullwing (a model that was also favored by old Hollywood stars like Elvis Presley and Sophia Loren), and a 1955 Jaguar XKD Long-Nose, one of only ten ever built. But he's also acquired a taste for more recent designs, such as the Ferrari LaFerrari, the famed Italian automaker's first hybrid vehicle, he picked up in 2015.
Altogether, Ralph Lauren's car collection has been valued at $350 million, as in the video below from CARJAM TV, featuring Lauren discussing the collection and his passion for driving – not just collecting – cars: