Robert Downey Jr car collection

ONE CAN ONLY imagine the toys that Hollywood actor Robert Downey Jr. has amassed over the years thanks to the fruits of his labour. Proving that he is every bit akin to his Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise character, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man), the 58-year-old is evidently partial to the finer things in life, like his taste in futuristic architecture—his inflatable Malibu bungalow and Hamptons windmill home is a sight for sore eyes—as well as his penchant for acquiring vintage cars.

Yes, RDJ is a self-professed “gear head” and “grease monkey” and now, he wants to share his car collection with you.

In June 2023, RDJ surprised many when it was revealed that, together with HBO Max, the actor was to release a six-part documentary-series called Downey’s Dream Cars, a reality-style series that documents RDJ transforming six of his beloved vintage vehicles into eco-friendly cars of the future. While the whole process might seem a little sacrilegious to motoring enthusiasts, RDJ promises the whole ordeal is for a good cause because now, the six modded cars in question can be yours thanks to RDJ Dream Cars Sweepstakes.

“Making Downey’s Dream Cars come true with Max was an education and a blast,” Downey Jr. said. “Keeping these transformed classic vehicles for my own personal enjoyment would be a missed opportunity. Please enjoy the show on Max, and pretty please go to for a chance to win one of these now eco-friendlier cars.”

The cars on offer are mostly from the ’60s and ’70s that Downey Jr. describes as cars that “make the heart beat a little faster”, and can now be yours with all proceedings going towards funding his nonprofit climate tech organisation, FootPrint Coalition.

“They all have to be given [away],” Downey told Motor Trend. “Everyone needs to get a chance to spend five or 20 or 50 bucks [to acquire one]. Not some Barrett-Jackson or Mecum thing, which I love and where I’ve gotten a fair amount of my cars in the past, but that’s a pro game. That’s like high-stakes poker. I want anybody to be able to get a chance to own one of these cars.”

Below are the six vintage cars on offer, as well as commentary from RDJ on the mods that were made to eco-fy these classic cars.

Robert Downey Jr car collection
FootPrint Coalition/Max

1972 Chevrolet K-10 Pickup 

Original MSRP: US$2,796 (AU$4,265)
Current value: US$200,000 (AU $305,088)
Modification hours: 3,725 

“These guys took a gas-drinking, carbon-belching dragon of a vehicle and turned it into a stealth weapon capable of superhero feats of strength.”

Turning this pickup into a full EV pickup with custom electric motor and battery set-up, RDJ bucked the ”bigger is better” trend. The 1972 Chevrolet K10 Pickup was the last year for the the fourth generation Chevy Pickup series, which started in 1967. Known as the “Action Line”, new features included padded dash boards, energy-absorbing steering wheels and dual master-cylinder brake systems.

Robert Downey Jr car collection
FootPrint Coalition/Max

1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SE

Original MSRP: US$6,461 (AU$9,855)
Current value: US$100,000 (AU$152,544)
Modification hours: 725

“It had more power. It seemed happy. It’s like it got a new ticker.”

This dreamy Mercedes-Benz 280SE from 1969 is special to RDJ for many reasons: it was his mother’s car, and it was the last of the hand-built Mercedes-Benz generation. Powered by a 2.8L gas engine that produced 158hp the 280 SE’s had a leather and wood dashboard and leather seats.

RDJ removed inline 6 cylinder 2.8l and installed a modern diesel engine converting the fuel system to biodiesel. RDJ also installed a synthetic suede-like interior that has been recycled from plastic bottles which has the look and feel of genuine suede but is much more environmentally friendly.

Robert Downey Jr car collection
FootPrint Coalition/Max

1965 Chevrolet Corvette

Original MSRP: US$4,321 (AU$6,591)
Current value: US$200,000 (AU$305,088)
Modification hours: 2,450

“We changed the heart of an American classic, but we left the soul intact.”

1965 was the first year a big block engine was featured in a Corvette and the only year that used a 396 cubic inch engine. It was the last year for the ram jet fuel injected engine up until 1982 when they introduced the cross fire injection engine. RDJ replaced the 327 Small Block Chevy engine with two Hyper 9 electric motors. He also installed mushroom-based leather interior.

Robert Downey Jr car collection
FootPrint Coalition/Max

1966 Buick Riviera

Original MSRP: US$4,408 (AU$6,724)
Current value: US$150,000 (AU$228,816)
Modification hours: 2,225

“This car’s a future version of itself.”

The 1966 Buick Riviera was the first year of the second generation for the Riviera. It was a stunning futuristic design that featured power steering, power brakes, tilt wheel and an electric clock were all standard. RDJ replaced the stock 425CI V8 Buick Nailhead engine with a first generation LS series hybrid engine/transmission in an attempt to improve the “very poor gas mileage”. He also installed “The Puck, a prototype air quality sensor form Aclima that allows for real time air quality data anywhere the car is driven.

Robert Downey Jr car collection
FootPrint Coalition/Max

1972 VW Bus

Original MSRP: US$3,848 (AU$5,869)
Current value: US$200,000 (AU$305,088)
Modification hours: 3,850

“Of all the conversions, it’s the one that took to it the best.”

This 1972 VW Kombi Bus is a 13-window Brazilian-built Bus. The production quality of these Brazilian built buses was spotty at best. RDJ replaced all of the body panels during its restoration, as well as the 1100 CC air-cooled engine with an EV West electric motor conversion and custom battery rack. This “beach-going vehicle” is that’s now environmentally friendly also features a custom built electric, solar-powered BBQ grill. 

Robert Downey Jr car collection
FootPrint Coalition/Max

1985 Chevrolet El Camino

Original MSRP: US$8,933 (AU$13,626)
Current value: US$175,000 (AU$266,952)
Modification hours: 2,845 

“It is a triumph. The future is a hodgepodge of experiments as all breakthroughs are.”

RDJ’s 1985 El Camino was built toward the end of the fifth generation of El Caminos which ran from 1978-1987. This new generation of “Elco’s” featured shorter beds and shorter bodies. While the El Camino wasn’t intended to be a true off-road vehicle, this modded El Camino can handle light off-road duty.

RDJ replaced the stock Chevy 4.3l V6 engine with a modern Chevy 2.7l turbo 4 cyl. He also built a custom roof rack & light bar, and installed a custom bike rack in bed to house two Rad Runner electric bikes (which feature miniature solar panels so they can charge whilst driving).


Behind the wheel with Lando Norris

Brad Pitt makes British Grand Prix debut for upcoming Formula 1 film