National Car Museum of Iran

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The entrance to the Museum.
Mercedes-Benz 500K.

The National Car Museum of Iran (Persian: موزه ملی خودردو ایرانMuze Melli Xodrodu Irân) is a museum in Karaj, Iran, opened in 2001. Displayed at the museum are classic cars owned by the last Shah of the Pahlavi Dynasty, Mohammad Reza Shah. In addition to the large museum which is open to the public, there is a restoration center at the back closed to the public.

Cars in the Museum[edit]

There are many vehicles in the museum, ranging from sports cars to limousines, carriages and bikes which carried the royal family. Some of the items include:

History[edit]

After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Mohammad Reza Shah and his family fled the country and leaving behind most of their possessions. Mohammad Reza Shah was famous for his love of sports cars, and he was known for taking one of his many cars late at night and racing on the highways around Tehran. After he fled the country in January 1979, the cars first stayed untouched. During the revolutionary chaos some were stolen from the palaces, others were put into hiding: either stored in garages, hidden underground, or even pushed into water. Two Rolls-Royces (the Silver Ghost and the Phantom IV) were in the UK for restoration when the Revolution broke out in Iran. The Pahlavi's claimed them to be their private property. But, after 11 years of legal dispute Iran finally succeeded in having them transferred to Iran. At one place in time reportedly more than 1000 cars were sold by authorities of the Islamic Republic in one deal to an Arab Prince for 2 billion Rials, roughly 5 million US$ at that time. Obviously these luxury items were regarded leavings of the "decadent monarchic times" and of no value to the now Islamic country. Only by vigilance of other Iranian authorities the export of these items of unmeasurable value (some believe even exceeding the value of the crown jewels of the national treasury of Iran) was stopped literally at the banks of the Persian Gulf, in the harbour of Bandar Abbas, and returned to Tehran. Since then the late Shah's cars are regarded part of the national heritage. The Daimler company of Germany is said to have offered several million Euros to purchase the Mercedes 500 K Autobahn-Kurier for its Museum in Stuttgart (Mercedes-Benz Museum), to the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran - but without success. Prior to the inauguration of the museum in 2001, run mainly by private initiative of Iranian car enthusiasts, a small portion of the remaining 1200 cars were recovered, cleaned and put into the museum to display to the public. More than 1000 cars still reside in storage, garage or in Parks (e.g. in the park of Sa'dabad Palace) and wait to be made accessible to the public.

See also[edit]