Tehran’s Private Racetrack

06 October 2022

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, was the last Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow in the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979.

Forty-plus years after Reza Pahlavi was ousted in the Iranian Revolution, most of his epic car collection makes up the bulk of the Iran Historical Car Museum.

The museum’s jewel is the Pierce Arrow Model A, built in 1930. It was the most expensive car in America at the time. Its price tag was $30,000, equivalent to one-eighth of Iran’s state budget, when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi purchased it.

The Shah amassed a monumental collection of scarce and valuable motor cars.

It is rumoured that he drove various Lamborghinis with unrestrained impulsiveness on the boulevards of Tehran, made into a private racetrack by his army of security guards.

In 1958, the Shah decided he wanted to add an exclusive Maserati to his car collection. Maserati had been working on a race car, the 450S, a 4.5 litre V8 and had no actual use for it.

Along came the Shah.

The engine was increased to 4.9 litres, built on a 3500GT chassis and then coach built by Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera. The designer, Carlo Anderloni, based on his view of Persian architecture styling; the car was duly named ‘the Shah of Iran’.

When word of this magnificent motor car got out, the world’s wealthy felt they should have one, much to the pleasure of Maserati and the plethora of car designers who were only too willing to provide the exclusive coachwork.