Before being ousted in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Iranian royal family enjoyed a lavish lifestyle with a penchant for fast cars that had never been built.
Now, hidden after half a century, the royal racing drivers are back on display, and the Iran Historical Car Museum has attracted thousands since it opened in recent weeks.
The museum currently houses one of the largest and most valuable collections of cars in the region, consisting of sports cars, limousines, motorcycles and carriages of the last Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty, Mohammad Reza Shah.
âThe jewel of the museum is the Pierce Arrow Model A, built in 1930. It was the most expensive car in America at the time. Its price was $ 30,000, which was an eighth of the then Iranian national budget, and was bought by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the founder of the dynasty, “explains Mohammed Faal, director of the Iran Historical Car Museum.
Other highlights of the collection include an MPV Teheran Type, a bright orange single-seater that was a âgiftâ to help Prince Reza, who was 12 years old at the time, learn to drive.
“We consider these cars part of the Iranian cultural heritage”
In 1979 the pressure on the Shah, which had been built up for years, became too great and he left Iran on January 16, never to return.
It was the end of the monarchy in a country ruled by kings for 2,500 years.
The Shiite leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who lives in exile, announced the formation of a Revolutionary Council to prepare an “Islamic Republic” from Paris.
After the Shah left, Khomeini returned to Iran on February 1.
And in February the Islamic Revolution had arrived.
The collection at the Iran Historical Car Museum is curated by the Bonyad Mostazafan organization of the Islamic Republic – “The Foundation of the Oppressed” – which manages the property confiscated from the overthrown regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Conceptually, the museum tries to create an atmosphere in which cars are seen as historical emblems.
Around 20,000 people have visited the museum since it opened, more than the National Museum visited each month.