Sultan Qaboos of Oman passed away at 79 on Friday and was laid to rest yesterday after a mighty funeral procession carried his body through the streets of Muscat. Perhaps unsurprising for an event in the Persian Gulf, there were cars. Lots of them.
The Sultan’s casket was carried in a rather ornate Land Rover 110 flanked by a cavalcade of other SUVs, each more interesting than the next. Let’s check them out.
Take a look at these Nissan Patrols. In the past, I might have been convinced that an older Patrol model like the Y61 or Y60 might be fitted with a turret, but the current model? I am impressed.
But the Patrols aren’t the only wild customised SUVs in the motorcade. Closer to the Land Rover at the centre are a set of bright red Lexus LX570s decked out with lightbars, push-bars, grates over the headlights, running boards, and more. It looks like someone wasn’t satisfied with what the accessory catalogue had on offer and decided to tack on even more.
The bright red paint and the way they flank the Sultan’s final ride remind me of the Elite Praetorian Guards from Star Wars. You know, the red-clad warriors that accompanied the Emperor. I suppose this is as close as you can get to those here on Earth, so I’m glad someone out there went all out to make it happen.
There’s one more to shout out. There’s a GMT900-generation Envoy XL-based camera car with the roof aft of the C-pillar removed leading the Land Rover carrying the Sultan’s casket. I’ve never seen anything like it before and I love it. It’s great.
Behind all of these is an entire fleet of German luxury sedans as well, because not everyone could fit in the SUVs, I guess. They’re all interesting too and I’m sure some of you will be able to point out some rather unique ones among them too.
The motorcade that accompanied the Sultan’s body to his final resting place isn’t the first time Oman has brought it in the SUV department. Back in 2017, a similar motorcade brought the very much alive Sultan somewhere and the whole thing was captured on film too. It looks like earlier versions of the red Lexuses were in use back then. They’re pretty neat too, but I appreciate the fact that the Omani Royal Guard or whatever organisation operates them recognised that there was still room for improvement on the old GXes they used to use.
What really has me interested in these SUVs is their historical precedent. Back in the ‘70s, Saudi leadership loved custom SUVs as well. So much so, in fact, that the gaudy reborn version of Stutz built a number of special models based on the Chevrolet Suburban for the market, more wild than the last.
The first was called the Bear, which makes a lot of sense next to the Bearcat sports car the brand built. It was basically just a Suburban with a turret for a .50-cal machine gun up top.
Apparently, the Saudis were smitten with the result and ordered stretched versions, roofless versions, and even sedan versions, some called the Defender, others the Gazelle (photos of all of these are at the link above). When I first learned of these things, I was convinced the Gulf had moved along from the customised SUV sensibilities of old, but now I know things are the same as ever. And I’m glad.
(h/t to @tamerlaneblog for pointing all this out to me!)