occupation: enviable

Nubar Gulbenkian (1896-1972) was an eccentric British/Turkish oil magnate.

Gulbenkian’s long beard, monocle and the orchid in his buttonhole which was replaced daily led to him becoming noted for a fairly eccentric life, with a number of stories building up around his name. Indeed his character was summed up by an associate who claimed that “Nubar is so tough that every day he tires out three stockbrokers, three horses and three women“. He was a regular face on the international playboy scene.

A known gourmet, he was quoted as saying that ‘the best number for a dinner party is two – myself and a damn good head waiter.’ Other stories attached to his name include giving his position in life on a market research form as ‘enviable’.

When his mother died in 1952, he and his wife wore black for the next 12 months and refrained from eating in public places. He even had his dark bronze car, the bonnet of which was modelled on the Parthenon, painted black, and its upholstery changed to a more sombre colour. More on his cars here

Naturally his Rolls-Royces were as flamboyant as he was. The first, christened Pantechnicon, was built in 1947 and looked like the unfortunate progeny of a liaison between a Rolls and a Wehrmacht Panzer tank, with its faired-in wheels and front grille.

His next, built in 1952, was a four-door cabriolet that was also used by the Queen on a visit to Nigeria. He replaced it with another Hooper Sedanca Deville with full, sage-green, lizard-skin trim – and that included the steering wheel and grab handles modelled to look like lizards’ tails. In 1987 it starred as Uncle Monty’s car in the cult film Withnail and I.


The most dramatic of the Gulbenkian Rolls-Royces was the car built in 1956, again by Hooper, and fitted with a transparent Perspex hardtop strangely reminiscent of FAB1 from Thunderbirds. Gulbenkian planned to use the car only on the Côte d’Azur, so inside the hardtop was an electrically operated sun shade that, along with the air-conditioning, kept the interior at a reasonable temperature. Among its many luxuries were electric windows, a stereo radio and even a television set – quite something in 1956. He sometimes used it, posing along the Monte Carlo coastal roads, but by the 1980s it had fallen into disuse and languished in the basement of his club, where customers would sit in it as they enjoyed their drinks.


In 1965, he had a special taxi constructed to his own design. Several personalities have taken to taxis in the name of anonymity – the Duke of Edinburgh still does – but there was nothing low-key about this one. The front panels were more or less standard Austin FX4 (the old-style taxi that you still see today) but from the windscreen back it was designed like a miniature limousine with definite Victorian hansom cab overtones.

The driver’s compartment was open to the elements and carriage lights were fitted either side, just in front of the rear doors. The whole rear compartment was styled along the lines of a horse-drawn brougham, with real wickerwork panels. It had a Lalique bonnet mascot and gold-plated door handles.

Gulbenkian liked the cab’s tight turning circle when he was being driven around London. “It turns on a sixpence,” he once boasted. “Whatever that is.”

“Ten Shillings and Sixpence” found here

Published in: on August 10, 2010 at 8:12 am  Comments (45)  
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what star sign is your car?

Several years ago Psychology Today ran a “scamarama contest” to see if readers could come up with a creative pseudoscience when they weren’t hampered by little things like scruples. Here are some of the suggestions…

Phrenotherapy: Change the bumps on your head to improve your character. Experts would offer to ‘knock your noggin where it will do the most good’

Palmistherapy: Using laser surgery to lengthen the lifeline on the palm of your hand.

Upgrade Your Aura: A device that fits into your pocket or purse that magnifies your current aura to make a better impression on others.

Autozodiac: Create an astrological chart for your car so you’ll know which are the best/worst days  for a long trip or to have your oil changed.

Car Zodiac found here

Investment in Reincarnation: Leave $10,000 in your will to a professional medium who will contact you after your death and find out when you’re coming back and under what name. Upon your return you receive a cheque for your investment plus interest. The longer you are gone, the more you will receive!

It’s been a long time since I ran a competition here at the gimcrack, so perhaps it’s time for another one. Leave your own scamarama suggestions in the comments section and I’ll post out prizes to the two best ideas……