If you have not already read this article on the Pierce-Arrow Museum at Gilmore Facebook page, the BBC News network wrote an article on the Shah of Iran’s Pierce-Arrow in conjunction with the new Museum in Iran opening this week. The car is now on display in a brand new museum and the car looks amazing now. The Pierce-Arrow Society is prominately named in the article along with yours truly, who helped the author with photos and information….Enjoy.
America’s most expensive limousine in Iran’s court: The story of Reza Shah’s handmade car.
Ninety-one years ago, in April 1930, New Yorkers visited the Pierce- Arrow showroom to see a ceremonial car that was named America’s most expensive car.
What dazzled the eyes of the visitors was a white car with gold plated brightware. On the doors of both sides of the car, Pahlavi crowns are seen. A week later, the ceremonial car was boarded to be sent to Tehran for Reza Shah’s use.
The ceremonial car is on display today, along with 60 other valuable cars at the Museum of Historic Cars of Iran, which opened on October 23, although its color has changed.
Pierce-Arrow is often referred to as the “Rolls-Royce of American cars” in the years before World War II.
between 1909 and 1936, all U.S Presidents rode in the company’s cars.
King Abdulaziz Al Saud, a Saudi Monarch, was another prominent buyer of Pierce-Arrow cars.
But while the average price of Pierce-Arrow pierce luxury cars in those years was about $$3,500 to $5,500 dollars a car, according to officials at the Pierce-Arrow Society in the U.S., Reza Shah Pahlavi’s car was the most expensive car produced by the company at that time.
Curtiss Pool, a member of the Pierce-Arrow Society, says the car commissioned by Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1930 cost $30,000 to produce, a net worth worth of approximately $490,000 to today’s money.
According to the New York Times, Reza Shah was looking for a “different” car to use at the official ceremony.
The royal court of Iran went to Pierce-Arrow’s representative’s in Tehran to order Reza Shah’s preferred ceremonial car.
Curtiss Pool says that after the dissolution of Pierce-Arrow in 1938, all its documents were destroyed and little information remains of Reza Shah’s car and other products.
Reza Shah’s car, he says, was a custom model of the town car Pierce-Arrow, which had an 8-cylinder engine.
The chassis and engine of this car were not much different from other types of this model, but the body was completely handmade.
To build the body of the car, Pierce-Arrow went to the Brunn & partners in Buffalo, New York.
In those years, Herman Brunn was known for producing luxury cars by celebrities such as the great American banker JP Morgan.
He also built the car used by the kings of Greece and Romania.
According to Mr. Pool, some of the characteristics of the car mentioned in the remaining documents are as follows:
“Gold plated hardware, champagne colored silk upholstery, inlaid satin wood trim, Russian wolf hound rugs on the floor, the Pahlavi crest embroidered on the seats, and crowns with semi precious stones on the rear doors and headlight bezels.”
Discoloration in Tehran
The Pierce-Arrow of Reza Shah in the museum today is of a different color.
Mr. Pool says the car was re-painted sometime after being transported to Tehran.
He does not know when the car was repainted, but Reza Shah seemed to prefer to change its color from white to navy blue.
In all the images from recent times, the car is seen in navy blue.
Curtiss Pool points to another change in the look of the car.
According to him, pictures show Reza Shah’s car was not outfitted with spare sidemounts while in the United States.
Mr. Pool had stated the Reza Shah had previously ordered another Pierce-Arrow prior to ordering the ceremonial car built for Reza Shah. He believes that later, for some reason, the sidemounts were installed on the ceremonial car.
In 1944, 14 years years after the shipment of the Pierce-Arrow ceremonial car to Tehran, Reza Shah withdrew from the monarchy by an allied invasion of Iran.
However, the car’s mission did not end, and Mohammad Reza Shah, the King’s son, used it in official ceremonies in the early years of his reign.
In the years following the revolution, along with some other historical vehicles left over from the Pahlavi era, the car was provided to the Mostazafan Foundation and has been displayed on numerous occasions.
In the 1970’s, I attended at dinner at which Raymond Dietrich spoke. He was asked what was the most expensive car that had been made. He replied the Shah of Persia Pierce-Arrow