IsnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it amazing what we sometimes find underneath car covers? One of my very good friends is my pilot and he has been flying me around since my Olympic days. The other day while we were talking he said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey, I have something down at my garage that I think will interest you.Ã¢â‚¬Â Knowing him the way I do naturally that got my attention. So today I took a drive over to his place. It seems someone had paid him to store a few cars for him and after parking and covering them with car covers they went unnoticed. As a matter of fact they went unnoticed for years until my friend tried to get in touch with the owner for some storage fees. Over a period of months and even years he was unable to contact anyone and after exhausting all other resources he placed a lien-sale on them and went thru the legal process which eventually gave him legal ownership of his new cars.
When he had filled out all the paper work for the lien-sale process he recognized each of the cars that was until he got to the last one. In fact nobody he talked to seemed to have a clue what it was until he asked the right person. Their reply was, Ã¢â‚¬Å“A STUTZ! You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what a STUZ is!Ã¢â‚¬Â Yes, in fact it was a Stutz but this story gets far more interesting than that. As he began his research into finding out how rare they were not to mention amazing, he still could not find out any information with regards to this specific automobile. Many of these cars were owned by celebrities like Elvis Presley, Lucy Ball, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis jr, Wilson Pickett, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Larry Holmes, and the King of Saudi Arabia just to name a few. Several of these celebrities owned several of them and the King of Saudi Arabia had a whole fleet of them. See a more detailed list here; http://www.madle.org/eown.htm All of this was very impressive but my friend assumed that there was probably no way his new acquisition would have been ignored by anyone of such status. But to the contrary when he did find out who it belonged to he almost fell off his chair.
When he had regained his composure he realized he was now the proud owner of a 1979 Stutz IV-Porte, the very same one that was purchased by El Hadj Omar Bongo, the President of Gabon in west central Africa. It seems El Hadj Omar Bongo is not hurting for cash and interestingly enough he owns more real estate in France than any citizen of France. He was in power since 1967 and the longest-serving African head of state, was re-elected to his third consecutive seven-year term in 2005.
El Hadj Omar Bongo also owned a fleet of Stutz but he had special ordered this particular car for his son Ali-Ben Bongo Ondimba on his 20th birthday who was going to college in the United States. After having studied law he returned to his country but somehow his car ended up in my friendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s garage. Ali-Ben Bongo Ondimba then entered politics in the 1980Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, and worked in the office of his father and in 1989, while 29 years old, he became the Foreign Minister of Gabon.
This is one of El Hadj Omar Bongo’s Stutz parked in front of his hunting club in Italy.
Some features of this specific car are as follows.
1979 Stutz IV Porte
Price new $ 74,765
Bodies built in Italy, USA powertrain
160 horsepower 5.7 litre V8 engine
3-speed automatic transmission
116 inch wheelbase / 224 inch length
4,500 pound weight
Top speed of 106 mph
The IV Porte was the 4-door version of the Blackhawk but more rare.
As rare as this car is, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s amazing to know El Hadj Omar Bongo, still has a fleet of then in Africa and they are still serving their government. As recently as 2007, the French President Sarkozy visited Gabon, and had a chance to have a ride in a Stutz Royale. In the photo of the his fleet you can also see another 1979 Stutz IV-Porte just like the one he bought his son. I had to laugh when during my research I found out that when Stutz built the cars and shipped them to El Hadj Omar Bongo but he had to return them because there was a rule in his country that Ã¢â‚¬Å“The royal rear end was not allowed to sit on leather.Ã¢â‚¬Â As you can see in the photos I took today all leather was replaced with fur and velour. If that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make Elvis jealous what would?
PLease excuse the poor quality photos due to being in a dark garage bu as you can see even the seats are embroidered with the great seal of Gabon, everything on the dash is real gold and so is the hood release latch (Not plastic plated) and the car has less than 17,000 miles on it. A did that fur lined trunk. Yeah BabyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Now THATÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shagadelic.
Since then he sold the other collector cars but kept the Stutz and what an interesting car this is but more so the history. My friend invited me to lunch next week or possibly go wine tasting in the wine country. I wonder if I should wear my loin cloth?
As recently as 2007, the French President Sarkozy visited Gabon, and had a chance to have a ride in a Stutz Royale.