For decades, Iran’s reverence of the British motor car was expressed in mass output of imitation Hillman Hunters, rebranded as the Peykan, before obsolescence caused production to be halted.
Now, an Iranian motor manufacturer is going several streets upmarket to pay homage to another classic UK make: the Rolls-Royce.
Aryaman Motors, a Tehran-based company specialising in reproducing classic cars, is marketing replica vehicles based on the original design of the earliest Rolls-Royce models.
The cars are hand-built from scratch to recreate the bodywork and hallmarks of models produced in Britain about 100 years ago.
Inside, they are fitted with modern specifications such as air conditioning, orthopaedic seats and even CD players, fridges and televisions if customers request them. Hi-tech soundproofing reduces the noise of the 2.5l engine.
Aryaman Motors began producing the cars after receiving an order from Saad Abad Palace museum in north Tehran for a remake of the 1919 Silver Ghost model once owned by Reza Shah, the monarch who ruled Iran for two decades until the second world war.
The original was damaged after being confiscated by the Islamic martyrs foundation following the 1979 revolution that ousted his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The imitation car is now a museum exhibit; visitors can be driven around the grounds of the former royal palace for 60p a time before paying a visit to the complex’s Museum of Reminiscence and Warning, the Museum of Military Implements or the Natural History Museum.
Those wishing the pleasure of ownership will have to pay a higher price — GBP76,000. That figure has not deterred a small but wealthy number of enthusiasts in Iran and neighbouring Gulf states from requesting their own models, keeping Arayman’s order book full.
“Because our cars are hand-made, we do not produce more than one or two per year,” the company said. “But our order list is already full for the next three years and we are trying to extend our production to five per year.” After the revolution, classic cars were seen as a symbol of decadence, so the new regime confiscated more than 100 luxury models that once belonged to the shah and his wealthy allies.