Barrett-Jackson 2022: 1982 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur Rajneesh Special

Every Rolls-Royce automobile is special, but this 1982 Silver Spur is a little extra special. The car features two-tone metallic white and gold with a dark tobacco leather interior.

The former owner of this luxury British sedan was a spiritual leader who went by the name Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. He founded Rajneeshism, a self-described “religionless religion” that focused on each individual discovering their own religious path, rather than ideology and philosophy.

The founder came to the United States in May of 1981 and began preaching his own religious ideas, which he called Neo-Sannyasinism. His influence in the U.S. grew to the point where he had approximately 2,000 followers who moved to a private ranch in northern central Oregon state, near the small city of Antelope (pop: 50).

Though members described it as an “intentional community,” it was considered a religious cult by outsiders. These members sold or gave away all of their personal belongings to join the group, where they lived in a communal living arrangement. Members of the Rajneesh community carried out the bizarre (and later criminal) wishes of the leader, such as dressing in orange robes and group chanting exercises. In practice, the religion was known for its mysticism and sexual freedom.

By 1984, the community had grown to more than 7,000 people. It had its own police and fire department, restaurants, mall, townhouses, a local bus system, sewage treatment plant, and a 4,200 foot airstrip.

During this time, the Rajneesh leader had attained significant wealth due to its expansive enterprise of both secular and spiritual businesses. One report estimated that the movement was responsible for $120 million in revenue during its time in Oregon.

What did the founder of this religion do with his wealth? Rajneesh had a penchant for Rolls-Royce automobiles, and at one time owned a staggering 93 vehicles! Management of the fleet was set up under its own company, Rajneesh Modern Car Collection Trust, whose purpose was to deal with the acquisition and rental of Rolls Royce automobiles.
This car was one of the more than 90 Rolls-Royces owned by Rajneesh. This 1982 Silver Spur was consigned to sell at the Scottsdale 2022 Collector Car Auction by its owner. The car shows 2,500 miles on the odometer, which is very, very low for the age of the vehicle. The listing states that the car “…was driven by the Bhagwan within the compound to bestow blessings from his followers.” Sold as Lot #682, the car fetched $22,000 – including the buyer’s premium.

The group sought to attain political influence by getting its members on city and county voting boards. To accomplish this, some of the members engaged in a biological attack by spraying salmonella bacteria on salads at local restaurants, poisoning more than 700 people. This was part of a plot to influence the election in their favor.

Rajneesh and his leaders were also later discovered to be engaged in a massive wiretapping scandal, eavesdropping on all incoming and outgoing communications from their members. There was also a serious plot to assassinate a U.S. District Attorney for Oregon, which was investigated by the FBI.

The ranch lasted from July 1981 through approximately September 1985. Rajneesh was deported from the United States in 1985 and he died in India in 1990 at the age of 58.

The legacy of the Rajneesh and his community endures to this day. It has been the subject of multiple books and biographies. The narrative was parodied in a 1998 episode of “The Simpsons” in which Homer is brainwashed into joining a religious cult that bears many similarities to the Rajneesh community. In one scene, the mysterious leader drives around in a Rolls Royce while the group members labor in the fields.

Netflix released a six-part documentary series about the Rajneesh movement in 2018, called “Wild Wild Country.”

Following the death of its founder, the Rajneesh movement is essentially non-existant today. However, this car is a physical link to a time and a place that no longer exists. I wonder what happened to the rest of the Rolls Royce automobiles?

There is so, so much more to this story that I could not possibly fit into this article. For more information, please see these links:

Mitsubishi Diamante VR-X: Clapped Out Japanese Luxury

The U.S. auto market is among the most competitive you will find anywhere in the world. Throughout the age of the automobile, there have been many cars which were notorious for their failure in the market. The Ford Edsel, Chevrolet Corvair, the Ford Pinto, the Yugo, and even the DeLorean DMC-12 became famous for their lackluster sales. These names are known to those who are not automotive enthusiasts.

But for every widely-publicized flop into the North American car market, there are many more cars which sell poorly and disappear from dealerships without anyone even noticing. Cars like the Lexus ES250, Peugeot 405, and the Chrysler TC by Maserati for example.

Today I present another one of these low-production import cars: the Mitsubishi Diamante VR-X. Continue reading

1970s Chevrolet Monte Carlo “Custom Cloud”

My fellow editors spotted this car in a random driveway while we were cruising around one night. Since I had my camera and took a picture, I get to write about it. The car was not immediately recognizable and the guys spent several minutes speculating about what it might be.

As it turns out, this odd-looking vehicle is actually a very rare luxury car called a Custom Cloud, which was built on a 1970s Chevrolet Monte Carlo chassis. In a lot of ways, this car is similar to the Stutz Blackhawk, only with a more down-to-earth price.

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Matte Orange 2007 Bentley Continental GT

To an average person on the street, a Bentley and a Rolls-Royce are pretty much the same thing: a very expensive car for rich people. However, the two cars actually serve very different purposes. A Rolls-Royce is a car for you to be chauffeured around in, while a Bentley is a driver’s car.

Bentley has a long tradition of racing heritage going back to the company’s founding in 1919. Bentleys won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race five times between 1924 and 1930. Facing bankruptcy during the Great Depression, Bentley was acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1931.

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1967-1975 Iso Rivolta S4 Fidia

There is a gathering in Scottsdale on the first Saturday of each month called Cars and Coffee. This informal car show is open to all makes and models of vehicles, so you never know what might roll in.

It was here that I first spied the Hudson Italia, not knowing how rare or valuable it was. I kicked myself later for not taking more pictures of it. Well, I made the same mistake with this car. Not recognizing it, I foolishly took a single picture and moved on. Now I wish I had taken more!

This huge sedan is an Iso Rivolta S4 Fidia, and its claim to fame is that it briefly held the title of “World’s Fastest Four-Seater” in the late 1960s. Only of these cars 192 were built, so it’s pretty damn rare!

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The Pinnacle of Excess: 1972 Stutz Blackhawk

Following the carefree fifties and the rebellious sixties, the 1970s were a decade of uninhibited excess. This was the decade that brought us leisure suits, disco music, and brutalist architecture. For the most part, the 1970s are remembered as a dark age of design, and cars were no exception.

During this decade, cars got bigger and heavier, less fuel efficient, and in many cases uglier due to a combination of Federally-mandated 5mph impact bumpers and the prevailing styles of the times. There is perhaps no other automobile on earth that embodies the lavish excess, the indulgence, and the absurdity of the seventies quite like this 1972 Stutz Blackhawk. Continue reading

2011 Rolls Royce Ghost EWB – A Rolls by Any Other Name

“Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.” – Sir Henry Royce

For over a century, Rolls-Royce has manufactured the finest luxury motorcars in the world. In the year 2010, Rolls-Royce introduced a new model to their lineup called the Ghost. Because it was smaller and less expensive than the Phantom, many in the automotive world referred to the Ghost as the “baby Phantom.”

After running across this 2011 Ghost Extended Wheelbase at Cars and Coffee, I am going to paraphrase Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing and declare that “nobody puts [this] baby in a corner!” The Rolls Royce Ghost belongs in the spotlight. Continue reading

2012 Fisker Karma EcoSport EVer

“Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you will still be among the stars.” – Les Brown

At the time of this writing, California-based Fisker Automotive is in bad shape and if they don’t get a miracle, they are going to go under.

In case you haven’t been following the Fisker saga, let me fill you in. Fisker Automotive was founded in 2007 by Henrik Fisker, a Danish-born designer who also penned the Aston Martin DB9, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and the BMW Z8. The new company was to launch a luxury plug-in hybrid car in 2009. After multiple setbacks and delays, customers  finally began taking deliveries of the Karma sedan in late 2011. Continue reading