The first acquaintance of Emperor Nicholas II with a self-propelled vehicle took place back in 1895. The young ruler was shown the Millet steam tricycle made in France. Surprisingly, the emperor remained indifferent to such a vehicle, and in the coming years did not think about buying a car for himself.
In 1903, Prince Vladimir Nikolaevich Orlov drove his car to Tsarskoe Selo and almost daily invited Nikolai to take car trips. Soon the emperor was so captured by such travels that he began to think about buying his own car, declaring that "Orlov's kindness can no longer be misused."
As an expert, he naturally appointed Orlov himself, thanks to whom, in 1905, two Delaunay-Belleville cars were purchased for the imperial family in France. The cost of the transaction was, for that time, impressive - 18, 400 rubles. Prince Orlov received the honorary position of head of the imperial garage, and new cars began to be purchased one after another, in 1906 Nicholas II had six of them. For a total amount of 100, 000 rubles.
In 1908, the tsar's garage had 26 employees, and by the beginning of the First World War - about eighty. The maintenance costs were also huge. In 1908, 69, 700 rubles were spent, and in 1911 - already 96, 681. The auto collection of Nicholas II and his family was constantly replenished.
The most luxurious purchase was made in 1909. Delaunay-Belleville has received an order for the Delaunay-Belleville - 70 S.M.T. The car, whose power was 70 horsepower, and a mass of about 4 tons, could accelerate to 100 km / h. "Pleasure" cost the Russian treasury 23, 000 rubles.
The drivers' salary was quite high: 90-100 rubles a month. For comparison - the second lieutenant of the tsarist army received about 70 rubles. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that there were not so many drivers in Russia at that time. In one of the notes to the tsar, Prince Orlov reported that the demand for representatives of this profession is so high that any of them will be able to find a place where he will be paid much more.
Nicholas II did not forget about his heir, Tsarevich Alexei. In 1915, an 11-year-old child got his own car. It was a tiny Peugeot baby, weighing only 350 kg. True, Alexei was not allowed to drive often: he suffered from hemophilia, any injury was life-threatening, and the baby car developed a speed of 60 km / h.
The emperor preferred to move in open cars, explaining this by the fact that the ruler should be clearly visible to his people. This fact caused concern among the royal guards, since the time was turbulent, an attempt on the monarch's life could occur at any moment.
After the revolution, all the property of the tsarist garage was, of course, nationalized. The new government received a good inheritance from the last Russian emperor - 56 cars for a total of 1, 000, 000 rubles. And the leaders of the revolution began to enjoy using the vehicles of Nicholas II.