story by christian chazalon photos by philippe delaporte
He offered to buy the island where he was staying on holiday in the Bahamas for USD$425 million in 1979. His dynasty had no less than 17 banks and insurance companies, a 90% ownership in the nation’s third largest insurance company, 8 mining companies, 43 food companies, 25 metal enterprises, 10 building material and 45 construction companies...I could go on.
His ‘charitable foundation,’ so called because the dynasty's fortune got so huge, purchased the DePinna Building on 5th Avenue in 1975 valued at USD$14.5 million, that one gained international attention. He was also a petrol head…
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was arguably one of the world’s richest men by the late seventies before before the proverbial shit hit the fan in 1979 culminating in a Revolution in his native Iran, the country his family ruled for decades. Nevertheless, he left behind a great legacy manifested in unbelievable wealth including his personal collection of 140 classic and sports cars…including of the six Mercedes-Benz 500Ks in the world.
During the late ‘40s, while Iran was being ripped apart by separatists and it’s blood sucked dry by the Anglo-Iranian Oil conglomerant, the young Mohammad became seduced by sports cars, race horses…and women. He was a playboy becoming a fixture of the international party scene, fancying the swankiest of London nightclubs and a string of affairs and romps in the hay with B-grade actresses. The word debonair falls short of describing this man's character.
He had this ritual of taking any one of his sports cars through the streets of Tehran in the wee hours, and give them a thrashing like Nuvolari would had he the power. There’s just so many stories…
"probably one of the lowest mileaged, original, factory fresh examples—in the world."
But I won’t bore you with pages full of historical anecdotes of his oppulence and rule as I’ve given you the juicy bits; if you find yourself thirsting for more, the internet is your oyster. Instead, I want to share some footage of his oil slick black 928, probably one of the lowest mileaged, original, factory fresh examples—in the world. With 297km and still on the original P7s, this OB sitting inside the musty National Car Museum in Iran is the western car enthusiast’s version of Mecca; something to sacrifice all domestic and professional affairs for the pilgrimage.
Lucky for us, Philippe Delaporte, he of Expédition Porsche 928
fame, made that sacrifice during his Globtrotting 928 adventure. These are the images he captured.