Those of us who follow the lives and lifestyles of celebrities know that a lot of articles and features usually center on what celebrities own and how they live. More specifically, we are generally obsessed with knowing what sorts of high-priced goodies our favorite celebrities have purchased or enjoy using. From multi-million dollar mansions and yachts to expensive champagne, watches and clothing – there is a fascination (or obsession) with finding out the sorts of expensive things celebrities spend their money on. Whether a famous movie star, business personality or pro-athlete, a lot of the high-end purchases they make are items most of us can only dream of having. That said, you may be surprised to find out that there are some celebrity purchases, usually associated with six-figure dollar amounts, that the ‘average joe’ can afford.
It’s more than likely that you’ve come across a list, at one time or another, concerning celebrities and their high-priced cars. Yes, we’ve all seen them. That movie star who drives a Rolls-Royce, the soccer player who is spotted in a Lamborghini and the music star who goes around town in an Aston Martin – there are many celebrities who own some pretty nice and expensive cars. There not all like that, though. In the world of celebrity, there are the rich and famous who prefer to drive more practical and affordable cars.
The following looks at 15 celebrities who drive cars which are cheap – at least by celebrity standards. You won’t find a single Ferrari or Lamborghini ahead. We promise there are a few ‘imports,’ just not the kind you’ve come to expect. In fact, you may find more than a couple vehicles that aren’t even made anymore. None of the cars listed here break the six-figure barrier and most can (or could) be found relatively easily at the local car dealer.
15 Britney Spears – Mini Cooper
Britney Spears gained immediate fame as a pop singer thanks to her 1999 album …Baby One More Time. Over the next several years Spears followed that breakout album with seven more albums, all of which were received positively. In addition to heading out on several tours, the Mississippi-born singer signed a number of endorsement deals with companies like Skechers, Pepsi and Hasbro. Of course, all of this meant that the Princess of Pop ended up with a lot of money. Like most celebrities, Spears bought the big expensive house, went on trips to tropical destinations and enjoyed big nights out on the town. In terms of cars, the singer bought a Mercedes G55 and a Maserati Gran Turismo. Not surprised? She also owns a Mini Cooper convertible. Sure, it may be built by BMW, but at around $25,000 her Mini is substantially cheaper than anything else in her garage.
14 Ron Artest – Hyundai Genesis
His name may legally be Metta World Peace but to most of us he’ll always be Ron Artest – the guy who jumped into the crowd at a Pistons-Pacers game in 2004, attacking a fan and starting a brawl. Artest’s NBA career started in 1999 with the Chicago Bulls and lasted until 2014 with the New York Knicks. Now playing in Italy, the 2010 NBA champion surely drives a fleet of high-end cars, right? Not really. One of the vehicles Artest has been spotted in is a Hyundai Genesis sedan given to him by comedian George Lopez. Unfortunately, the car was modified to have an L.A. Lakers theme because Artest played for them from 2009 to 2013. The car began life as a regular Hyundai Genesis sedan priced at around $35,000. Add in custom purple and yellow trim, purple rims, purple and yellow seats and the price of the car probably decreased.
13 Steve Ballmer – Ford Fusion Hybrid
A celebrity of a different kind, Steve Ballmer is the current owner of the NBA’s LA Clippers and former CEO of software giant Microsoft. Naturally, when you’ve run a massive software company and own an NBA team, you’d expect the bank account to be particularly large. In Ballmer’s case, Forbes estimated that his personal wealth is more than $20 billion. With that kind of money, Ballmer can buy anything he wants, especially when it comes to cars. Rather than an ultra-luxurious Bentley or high-end Ferrari, this former CEO proudly drives a Ford Fusion Hybrid. Even if Ballmer opted for all the extras like larger rims, higher-end trim and audio equipment, the final price would still only come out at around $35,000.
12 Leonardo DiCaprio – Toyota Prius
In 1997 Leonardo DiCaprio starred in James Cameron’s blockbuster Titanic. Although the American actor had been in several movies prior to this and was firmly on Hollywood’s radar as a result, Titanic solidified DiCaprio as one of the biggest movie stars around. Since then he’s gone on to be in successful films such as Catch Me If You Can, The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street. With all the success and money he has made over the years you might expect DiCaprio to drive an assortment of high-end exotic cars. He chooses however, to drive the reasonably priced and environmentally friendly four cylinder-electric Toyota Prius. Like Titanic, the Prius came out in 1997 and was a hit. DiCaprio, a vocal advocate for the environment, has been a loyal Prius owner from its early days and there are more than a few paparazzi photos of him and his hybrid around town. Given that the various Prius models available can be had for between $19,600 and $29,900, this car is as easy on the environment as it is on a Hollywood star’s wallet.
11 Justin Timberlake – Volkswagen Jetta
Unless you’ve lived in a cave for the last 17 years, then odds are you know a little bit about Justin Timberlake. For a decade he was part of the boy band NSYNC after which he embarked upon a very successful solo career. He’s appeared in 17 films, dated Britney Spears and is currently married to Jessica Biel. With such success and a yearly income believed to be in the tens of millions, you expect there to be lots of paparazzi pictures of the singer riding around town in Porsches, Ferraris and Maseratis. Instead, celebrity watchers were treated to a picture of Timberlake driving a fourth-generation Volkswagen Jetta. While the $16,000 car is extremely practical it’s not something you’d really expect Timberlake to drive around in. Perhaps that’s the very reason he drives it – it makes it easier to slip out and do what you need to do around town unnoticed by crowds of adoring fans.
10 Conan O’Brien – Ford Taurus SHO
Conan O’Brien started his road to fame as a writer for Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. Following these projects he ventured into the career we know him for today, comedy talk show host. Work on Late Night, The Tonight Show and Conan all made O’Brien a well-known television celebrity. What is also known about him is his inability to part ways with his 1992 Ford Taurus SHO. In 1992, this particular car cost $24,000 for the base model. The Taurus SHO wasn’t just any regular Taurus as it sported a Yamaha 3.0L V6 which produced 220hp. By today’s standards that isn’t impressive, but 20 years ago it was considered more than enough. However, today the car looks its age and a used one can be found for just a couple thousand dollars.
9 Clint Eastwood – GMC Typhoon
Acting legend, director and producer, Clint Eastwood rose to prominence in the spaghetti westerns of the 1960s and as ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan in the 1970s and 1980s. In some capacity, Eastwood has been involved in over 50 films during his career, making him one of the most recognizable names in the business. Despite box-office success over the span of a long career, Eastwood’s choice in cars appears to be all about function over form. This can be seen in his GMC Typhoon, a special SUV built in 1992 and 1993. The Typhoon looked a lot like GM’s popular Jimmy series of SUVs. The biggest difference was that the Typhoon had a turbocharged 4.3L V6 under the hood which produced 280hp for the AWD system. This gave the Typhoon a 0-60 time of 5.3 second which wasn’t bad at all for a vehicle that cost only $29,500.
8 Colin Farrell – Ford Bronco
Irish-born actor Colin Farrell really came to everyone’s attention during the 2000 film Tigerland. Since then he has been a regular fixture in Hollywood starring in dozens of films. In his films, Farrell has driven all sorts of vehicles, even futuristic ones. In real life, the 38-year-old keeps it simple and cheap. He has been pictured driving around in a fifth generation (1992-96) Ford Bronco. This particular SUV is known for its reliability, good build quality and strong V6 and V8 engine range. Farrell may have chosen this vehicle because of its tough and functional appearance. Older, excellent condition Broncos can command well over $40,000 today. In the case of Colin Farrell’s Bronco, you can probably find one in good condition for around $5,000.
7 LeBron James – Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
LeBron James is a forward for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Since 2003, James has been leaving his mark in the NBA with more team titles and personal awards than we have time to list here. His success and big-money contracts have allowed ‘King’ James to live in luxury. Nowhere is this more evident than in the types of cars he drives. Ferrari, Maybach, Bentley, Hummer, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce -–you name it and James owns it or has owned it. Yet, among these high priced luxury and performance cars, the 30-year-old athlete does drive some more affordable alternatives. For example, James was pictured driving his orange Jeep Wrangler Unlimited in 2010. This particular vehicle is $26,000 new and even if we add in all the upgrades and packages it tops out at around $39,000. Of course James had some customization done to the Jeep but that doesn’t change the fact that, in comparison to his other rides, this is a relatively cheap Jeep.
6 Daniel Radcliffe – Fiat Punto
He’s probably best known as Harry Potter, but since 2011, Daniel Radcliffe has moved on to other roles in film, television and on stage. While it will likely take some time to shake the association with Harry Potter, Radcliffe has that series to thank for making him millions before he had even turned 18. Once he turned 18, the British actor’s first big purchase with his fortune was a car. No, it wasn’t a Lamborghini or Ferrari but a rather reasonable $17,800 Fiat Punto. It turns out Radcliffe chose the car because he is environmentally conscious and wanted a car that didn’t pollute too much. Considering the largest engine the car comes with is either a 1.9L diesel or 1.8L gas with no more than 178hp, it’s safe to say this is no Lamborgini.
5 Mel Gibson – Toyota Cressida
Actor and filmmaker Mel Gibson may have been in the news for all the wrong reasons a few years ago, but he will always be known for his array of successful films which include Mad Max, the Lethal Weapon series and Braveheart, to name a few. In fact, it was in the Mad Max series that we saw Gibson driving rather beat up, yet powerful cars across the post-apocalyptic landscape of Australia. Since then he’s gone on to amass fame and fortune and could pretty much buy any car he wants. So, when paparazzi snapped shots of him driving around town in his sixth generation Toyota Cressida, it had people wondering what was going on. Depending on condition, a used 1988-1992 Cressida can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over $10,000 for a pristine or modified example. It comes with a 190hp 3.0L V6 but looks about as exciting as public radio sounds. For a celebrity trying to avoid scandal and publicity, what better car to ride around in?
4 Tom Hanks – Scion xB
Tom Hanks needs no real introduction. If you watched any movies over the last 30 years odds are that you’ve seen (or heard) him in more than a few films. When he hasn’t been acting, Hanks has been writing, directing and producing works like the miniseries Band of Brothers and The Pacific. Films which Hanks has starred in have, combined, brought in over $8 billion at the box office. He may not get all that money but estimates place his new worth at around $350 million. So, does the 58 year old drive around LA in the typical Mercedes or Ferrari? The answer is no. One of the cars Hanks drives is a Scion xB. Hardly a luxury ride, the xB costs about $15,000. Not done there, Hanks had his Scion modified with the addition of an electric engine. The cost of the environmentally friendly modification was reportedly $55,000 but to you and me, it still just looks like a regular xB.
3 Jay Leno – GMC Syclone
Ok, so this is one is a bit of stretch because this celebrity owns one of the largest personal car collections in the world – so you’d expect a few “cheaper” cars to slip in. Jay Leno is known by most people as a comedian and former host of The Tonight Show. Besides his on-stage work, Leno has amassed a collection of well over 250 vehicles. The collection is always changing as he buys new examples and modifies others. There is no one style of car Leno prefers as his fleet contains everything from a 1909 Baker electric car to a McLaren MP4-12 super car. Tucked away in this collection is a rare, but affordable, 1991 GMC Syclone. Only 2,995 Syclones were produced. These trucks look like standard GMC Sonoma pickups, but the real difference is under the hood. Here you’ll find a turbocharged 4.3L V6 producing 280hp for the AWD system – just like in Clint Eastwood’s Typhoon. This gave the truck an impressive 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds and all for around $26,000 new.
2 Jennifer Lawrence – Volkswagen Eos
From X-Men to The Hunger Games to Silver Linings Playbook, Jennifer Lawrence’s star has been rising steadily over the past few years. The 24-year-old is currently the ‘big’ thing in Hollywood and her momentum doesn’t show any signs of letting up. With so many films and so much media attention, Lawrence’s net worth has risen over the years and stands at $40 million. Rather than celebrate her new success by spending on fancy and high-powered exotic cars, she instead purchased a Volkswagen Eos. For $35,000, Lawrence gets to drive around and enjoy the VW’s reasonable 2.0L turbocharged 200hp engine. Sure she could buy a car that costs 10 times as much and has triple the horsepower, but we don’t think she really cares – or has the time to care.
1 Pope Francis – Renault 4
When you think of the Pope and cars, you probably picture what is commonly referred to as the Popemobile. This is usually some form of modified SUV, with built in bullet-resistant glass which allows to Pope to ride among the crowds and be seen by spectators. However, beyond the Popemobile, the current Pope, Pope Francis, has been seen in his own personal mode of transportation. So does the leader of the Catholic Church drive a car which symbolizes power and wealth? Hardly. Known for his humility and more casual demeanor, it should be no surprise that Pope Francis drives a 1984 Renault 4 hatchback. The car was donated to him and is used to drive around the Vatican grounds. You don’t get much cheaper than free, although we don’t think any Vatican speed records will be broken by this little four-cylinder powered car which, at most, costs a couple thousand dollars used.