From runway to highway

Inside Ralph Lauren’s $400m car collection

 Ralph Lauren's Bugatti Atlantic 57SC

 Ralph Lauren's Bugatti Atlantic 57SC

It’s not often eyes at a fashion launch are fixed on something other than the models prowling the runway. Then again it’s not often a collection of cars such as that of Ralph Lauren’s are on show. The fashion mogul parked some of his classic motors along the runway at his Fall 2017 Collection presentation, and the vehicles got just as much attention as the latest trends.

“I bought them to drive, not to collect”, says the seventy-eight-year-old, which is music to the ears of petrol heads that share Lauren’s love of cars. His personal collection is made up of over 70 vehicles, valued in the region of $400m. Kept in pristine condition, the vehicles date back to as early as the 1920s and all are road-registered and constantly being serviced and restored.

So what does he own exactly? Deep breath… a mind-blowing eleven Ferraris, including a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California, Ferrari 250 LM from 1964, five Jaguars including a 1957 XKSS, one of only 16 in the world, three Porsche 911s, a 1930 ‘Count Trossi’ Mercedes SSK, and a Alfa Romeo 8C Mille Miglia from 1938 – to name a few.

His pride and joy is his all-black Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe (1938) that is one of five Bugatti’s he owns - Lauren also has two Veyrons in his garage. They go nicely with his LaFerrari, two Porsche 918’s and two McLaren P1’s, which he recently acquired.

“They’re new technology,” he says. “It’s about newness and having a hybrid car – they’re all interesting. I love the technology in those cars. They’re fast and they’re spectacular and I can drive anywhere. So that’s why I bought those. I love the old cars but it’s a big issue to drive them.”

Lauren stores most of his collection at his home in a secret garage (which is more like a museum) at his home in upstate New York, but he also exhibits his collection around the world, including a four-month show at The Louvre in Paris in 2011.

His love for automobiles has unsurprisingly helped shape his latest clothing collection along with some other business ventures. “Cars have always inspired me. It’s technology, it’s mechanics, it’s the details and to me that’s a special kind of art. There are details in cars that I love and I’ve utilized those in watches and furniture too.”

Despite each car in his collection being ready to drive, he chooses to be driven in certain areas, especially New York City where he prefers to ride anonymously in the back of an American SUV. The classic cars are more suited for the quieter mountain roads of Colorado where you’ll find Lauren driving with his family.

“I enjoy getting in the car and turning the key and moving. It’s the beauty of the drive, the beauty of the way it feels and the beauty of the look.” Despite adding some modern-day motors, it’s having classic cars that give him the greatest satisfaction. “I don’t ever think of myself as a collector. In my mind they are like parts of me. Cars are fun and they all offer a different experience. To me they’re works of art, the older car’s details, metalwork, was done by artisans.” It should come as no surprise then that his first car was a handcrafted British Morgan.

Cars, much like clothing trends are forever changing, as Lauren is fully aware, “As time has changed they’ve had more sophistication and new technology but it’s the classic cars that I love and drive, which are still special.” With the classic cars in his garage more valuable than ever, it’s true what they say - some things never go out of style.

At a glace…Notable cars in Ralph’s collection

1929 Blower Bentley
1930 ‘Count Trossi’ Mercedes SSK
1938 Bugatti 57CSC Atlantic
1938 Alfa Romeo 8C Mille Miglia
1955 Mercedes Gullwing
1957 Jaguar XKSS
1960 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California
1964 Ferrari 250 LM
1965 Aston Martin DB5 Volante
2015 McLaren P1