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The American founder of one of the world’s most popular men’s magazines, Playboy, died last Wednesday. We’ll have a look at his biggest Bunny.

Just to set the record straight, Playboy magazine have naturally always delivered excellent journalism. Automotive articles have never been one of their core competencies, but I still bought the magazine for all their well written articles on all sorts of other subjects. Just like millions of others men claimed to do.

Where it all started – a young Hugh Hefner with the first edition of Playboy with Marilyn Monroe on the cover.

Playboy quickly became a world phenomenon, and during their prime in the sixties, it was claimed that every fourth (male…) college student bought the newest Playboy every time a new magazine hit the shelves of their local newsagent. No wonder Hugh Hefner skyrocketed to fame and fortune.

But achieving those dizzying heights was no walk in the park. The magazine was first published in 1953 and Hefner meet much criticism from the conservative Christian America of the fifties. He tried his best to turn everything on its head, and claimed he was some sort of advocate for women’s rights. The fairer sex should have a right to show off their virtues rather than just being hidden away at home in the kitchen. Or something along those lines…

Hefner worked hard for his magazine, and ended up being an integral part of its image.

While the criticism didn’t fade, the number of customers quickly outweighed the opposition, and Hefner was making a fortune. He also spent a fair portion of that fortune on establishing his image as a proper playboy. Besides surrounding himself with plenty of beautiful women, that would usually also have included exotic sports cars, but on that particular note Hefner was actually quite restrained.

Hefner in the very early sixties.

It seems his most extravagant vehicle was a Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman – which makes a lot of sense given he was always surrounded by women from the magazine; the so-called bunnies. In a 2-seater sports car he would have naturally had to settle with the company of just one bunny, and that would have never sat well with the flamboyant Mr. Hefner.

It would be a given to write about the famous pink cars, which the Playmate of the Year usually won as part of their prize. But these obviously didn’t belong to Hefner, and are really worthy of an article of their own. There were plenty of them though, but we’ll leave that story for another day.

I would rather have a closer look at Hefner’s most impressive means of transport: “Big Bunny”. The private jet which he bought in the late sixties at a heady 5.5 million dollars!

Several pretty bunnies and Big Bunny.

For starters, it was the longest version available of the DC9. Further to that, the first thing Hefner did was have it completely rebuilt into the ultimate aircraft for a proper playboy. As such it included both a lounge area, a bar, a cinema, a discotheque, a large bed covered in fur as they were back then (the beds…) – and naturally showers. So one could clean up afterwards.

The whole thing was painted black and decorated with a huge Playboy logo – the famous bunny ears – which was naturally well lit during night flights (which I imagine many might have been!).

He travelled in style, and Hefner named the black partyjet “Big Bunny”. It accommodated 38 people, and he used it among other things for commuting between his homes in Los Angeles and Chicago. And for holidays – naturally. He would happily lend it out as well, and not only to the likes of Elvis and Yul Brynner: at the end of the Vietnam War, Hefner offered his jet for transporting orphans to America.

He owned Big Bunny for six years, but when he bought (the even more famous) Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, he no longer felt he had a need for a private jet. The aircraft was duly sold and started a more ordinary life in commercial aviation out of Venezuela and later from Mexico. If only aircraft could talk, I doubt there would be many aircraft that could match the tales of Big Bunny. However, many of those stories would most likely be heavily censored anyway.

This picture paints the perfect illustration of playboy travel in the early seventies.

Hugh Hefner died at 91 years of age. The morale could easily be that it’s good for your health to pursue stunningly beautiful women – and preferably many of them. Or to pursue your dreams. Whichever comes first! Hefner did both – and he managed a whole lot better than most. I’m guessing very few men haven’t at some point dreamt of having a life like Hefner’s? Yet amusingly, my favorite picture of him doesn’t include a single bunny. Instead he is stood in front of two fabulous cars and his famous Playboy Mansion. It oozes all the playboy extravaganza I could ever require. Rest in peace Mr. Hefner.

The American Dream: Hugh Hefner in front of the Playboy Mansion.


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