Hunt for the world’s most expensive car umbrella

Dean Evans, Editor
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The world's most expensive umbrella?

The world's most expensive umbrella?

A $1000 umbrella sounds rather special. Diamonds on the handle? Unobtanium materials? Charges your smartphone while repelling raindrops in a 5m radius while Bluetooth streaming music?

Those ideas might somewhat justify the price, but we’ve just tracked down the world’s most expensive umbrella, from the most unlikely of cars, in the most unlikely of ways.

Nissan Pulsar GTI-R umbrella... yep, that's all it is.

Which Rolls Royce has an umbrella?

Rolls Royce is possibly most famous for having an umbrella in its doors, since the introduction of the Phantom in 2002, and across all models since, such as the Ghost, Wraith, Cullinan and even the latest EV Spectre. Beautifully made and befitting of the RR logo on the handle, there is an umbrella within each front door frame, and a suitable reminder that such opulence shan’t not be rained upon.

Rolls Royce is famous for its umbrellas in doors, but it wasn't the first

Ranging from the typical “if you have to ask…” pricing, the umbrella is still sold, available and fitted to Rolls Royce vehicles, and under Rolls Royce part number 51227272316, from some sellers, retails for NZ$800-900. A Beverly Hills retailer is also offering an umbrella for the latest Rolls Royce Spectre, for this year only, for NZ$3600, but it isn’t officially factory.

$3600 for an umbrella?... oh, OK, put two in the doors, please.

However, Rolls Royce wasn’t the first to have an umbrella fitted in a car. Predating the Rolls by a year was Skoda, which started fitting umbrellas to its Citigo, Fabia and Octavia models back in 2001, and upped the game in 2016, fitting umbrellas in each front door of the Superb and Kodiaq, and even Enyaq and Kamiq. And it’s a relative bargain at just $60.

Umbrellas are part of many Skodas over the past 20 years

What was the first car to have an umbrella?

But it still wasn’t the first car to have an umbrella. For that, we rewind ‘another’ 11 years, back to the 1990 Nissan Pulsar GTI-R. Yep, the car Nissan built to compete in the World Rally Championship was fitted with a Nissan-branded umbrella, housed within the door jamb, near the door striker catch.

Of the 15,000 Pulsar (and Sunny) GTI-R models produced, the umbrella was fitted to around half of those, being the series one, from Aug 1990-August 1992.

Of those circa 7500 cars, they came fitted with a silvery/grey Nissan umbrella, rather innocuous in its appearance, with a hard plastic handle with NISSAN printed on the bottom. It had a Velcro strap, a push-to-pop button and a Japanese sticker near the top of its main shaft, and was long considered merely a curious quirk and feature of the Pulsar GTI-R, and also Pulsar GTI and X1R.

Nissan Pulsar GTI-R umbrella operation

Nissan part number 96546 has long been discontinued, but its popularity and desire remains. Part of its appeal is the receptacle in the car itself, a black tube mounted in the car with its own functional, spring-loaded cover flap, with an umbrella logo, that is very satisfying to use. Not only does it open with a soft click of the yellow button, it also closes either by the door, or by merely closing the driver’s door.

But the operation of retrieving the umbrella itself is also neat: don’t simply grab the handle and pull. The way to remove a Pulsar GTI-R umbrella is, ironically, rather Rolls Royce like: give it a gentle push, and the spring-loaded function pops it out at the perfect length to poshly remove.

Placing the umbrella is the opposite, with a gentle push to lock it in place.

The operation of the umbrella itself is simple and conventional, release the Velcro strap, and push the release button and the silvery grey umbrella pops up neatly.

Identifying marks include a Japanese B-jump sticker right at the top of the shaft, and typical slight oil stains on the fabric from the factory lubrication of the joints, given the umbrella has likely been closed for most of its life.

Predating telescoping umbrellas, the umbrella is bereft of any branding on the fabric, and at just 68cm is odd size has contributed to its appeal and rarity. Opening out to 90cm diameter, it isn’t a full size umbrella, either, and though many have tried, quality replicas have been lacking for reasons of the handle, quality and general desire of the genuine thing. If you can find one. We recently did, after a phone call from a stranger with a alarmingly high price tag. But a deal was done, and there now resides a genuine umbrella in this red car.

With the balance of supply, demand and cost, the umbrellas have become probably the most sought-after and expensive part of a Pulsar/Sunny GTI-R.

While NZ$300-$400 could have bought one maybe a decade ago, the demand for an owner wanting to complete their car by having a genuine umbrella in the holder has continued to rise, as have the costs and rarity. Only one has publicly appeared for sale in 2024 globally, for example, and that sold for around NZ$600+. In 2023, one sold to an American customer for NZ$900.

1992 Nissan Pulsar GTI-R, the first car to have a factory umbrella?

What are they worth now? Difficult to say, but like anything, supply and demand are the key factors, and with mint condition Nissan umbrellas with tags and bag being sold for over NZ$1000, and with each sale presumably being put inside a vehicle lacking one, they are only getting harder to find. Is it worth it? Not a chance on face value alone, as it's maybe a $50-$80 umbrella. But that's hardly the point.

And likely one of the few parts of a Nissan Pulsar that is more expensive than a Rolls Royce.

Disclaimer: the author is a GTI-R tragic and was in a crazed stupor upon recently finding an umbrella for his GTI-R after a passive ten-year search, at a price that he is too ashamed to disclose.


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