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the strange cars of Nubar Gulbenkian, his taxis and Rolls Royces (thanks Dave!)

Saturday, May 6th, 2017 by admin

He had two Austin FX4 London taxis re-bodied for him in true brougham style, upright at the back with gold plated carriage lamps and an open chauffeur’s compartment. They were fitted with Rolls Royce engines.

They were built by FLM Panelcraft in Battersea, and at least one had wickerwork covered side panels.

Gulbenkian is supposed to have said two things about these conversions. First, that ‘it will turn on a sixpence – whatever that is’ and second to the effect that he liked his driver to be exposed to the elements since he never felt totally dry unless he could see someone who was totally wet.

“I wanted my taxi dolled-up, more comfortable inside and more distinguished outside, without losing its mobility. People recognize it. After a party or an opening they come and tell me where it is and I don’t have to wait.”

Nubar Gulbekian, one of the richest men in the world in his day. An Armenian business magnate born in the Ottoman empire, he was smuggled out to escape the genocide when only weeks old, in a Gladstone suitcase.

Nubar Sarkis Gulbenkian (1896-1972) was a British industrialist, philanthropist, bon vivant, oil tycoon, socialite, commercial attache to the Iranian Embassy (1926-51, 1955-56), he was one of the world’s wealthiest men. He wore a monocle with aplomb, and a fresh orchid every day – custom-dyed if nature did not already provide a color suitable to the occasion. He held an Iranian, Turkish, and British citizenship.

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