Mohammad Rezâ Šâh Pahlavi third child, eldest son of Reza Pahlavi and his second wife, Tadj ol-Molouk aka the first Shah of the Iranian Pahlavi dynasty, himself acceded to the thrown to become the Royal head of Iran aged a month short of 22. His father abdicated rather than commit Iran to the allied war effort with support for an Iranian Corridor for the supply of allied weapons and provisions to the Russians who were engaged in a fierce conflict with the German forces on the Russian front.
Two years earlier Mohammad Rezâ Šâh Pahlavi married Egyptian Princess Fawzia Fuad daughter of King Fuad I of Egypt and Sudan until he was deposed 1952. As was and still is the custom, the marriage of a head of state in waiting gave numerous governments the opportunity to ingratiate themselves for future eventualities by presenting often unique wedding gifts showcasing the skills and talents of their citizens.
The French Government did this by commissioning Bugatti to build a supercharged 160hp Type 57C chassis #57808 and supplying it to the coach builders Van Vooren who were commissioned to build a 2 seat Cabriolet body for it.
The body designed by, French domiciled Ukranian, Jacques Saoutchik, with it’s closed in wheels appears to have been heavily inspired by the other noted French coach building house Figoni et Falaschi, but had some original features including a windscreen that could be lowered into the front bulkhead and the roof which folded away completely from view below a rear interior panel.
In January 1979 the by now self styled Shah of Iran fled the peacock throne and the gathering Iranian Revolution which sought to place the exiled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as de facto head of state. The Shah left his Bugatti in the Royal Court of Iran and it was sold, allegedly for less than $300 by the Ayatullahs who found it and could easily have ordered it’s destruction.
The purchaser sent the car to the USA where it was fitted with an American V8 before #57808 found it’s way to experts in restoration Rod Jolly Coachbuilding in the UK where former Bugatti employee octogenarian Louis Giron is credited of taking care of the mechanical restoration.
I believe #57808, seen in these photographs at the Goodwood Festival of Speed is currently part of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Thanks for joining me on this “A Wedding Gift” edition of “Getting a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to came back now !