The ex-Shah of Iran

1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV Berlinetta

Coachwork by Bertone

The Shah of Iran was, for decades, the most important private client of the world’s ultra-luxury motorcar manufacturers. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Aston Martin were just some of the firms creating cars specially for the Shah, often with a bespoke specification and usually before any other client received something similar. It is no surprise that the Shah was one of Lamborghini’s best customers in the company’s early days, and he owned no fewer than four Miuras: an early P400 was a followed by an S (still in Tehran today), and then an SV before, finally, an SVJ. Coincidentally, we have handled both of the latter this year.

The Shah’s SV was ordered in a shade of imperial blue favoured by the ruler with contrasting milk white leather upholstery. There are suggestions that the engine may have been tuned by the factory to give more power, but these are unsubstantiated. What is beyond doubt, however, is that the car was built to the Shah’s personal order and specification. It remained in Iran until long after the 1979 revolution, finally being exported to Italy in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s on behalf of a new owner, a BMW dealer and enthusiastic collector from Pesaro, Italy. Under his supervision the SV was restored by former factory employees in the Modena area respecting the original specification. The quality of this work was underscored when the finished motor car was awarded ‘Best Miura’ prize at the 1993 Lamborghini Days gathering at the factory. The car further featured in a Classic & Sportscar cover story in July 1994 before returning to a quiet life in storage in Italy.

At the end of the decade it was sold via our team to the USA and, two owners later, entered the ownership of a meticulous, young New Orleans-based Lamborghini collector in 2004. He carried out detailed research and subsequently commissioned further restoration work by renowned US specialist Gary Bobileff, including returning to original some details which had been re-interpreted by a previous owner.

We are delighted to have recently assisted in acquiring this historic Miura SV for a dynamic new supercar collection.

For those interested in history, we reproduce below an e-mail received from an Iranian enthusiast with his memories of this car:

“My name's Alireza Azimzadeh. First of all, let me tell you that i spent literally HOURS on your website watching and reading about Miuras. Astonishing work ! I think i can now bring a little contribution about one of the famous Miuras. This is about the Miura #4870 which was owned by the Shah of Iran currently finished in Blu Notte. My father has always been into "high" class cars back in the 70's when he was still in Iran. There was back at that time a kind of small community of people driving Lambos, Maseratis, Ferraris etc....Anyway, he left Iran in the early 80's but still was into bringing some nice cars to Europe from Iran. It was around 1985-1986, when he heard talking (relations with old friends of the 70s) about a Miura for sale in Tehran (for a low amount of money for a Miura, but the car was said to be without papers). Actually, he was to make the trip to Tehran in order to bring out a V12 E-Type Jaguar and decided to go and see the Miura too. He got to talk to the owner over the phone : one of the Shah's familly member he already knew from the 1970's (cousin or something like this) still in Iran: Mr Farshid Esfandyari.

“After revolution, the car was seized by Islamic government but Mr Esfandyari was willing to stay in Iran (while most of Shah's familly was out of the country) and recovered his personnal belongings (house etc...) plus this car (which was actually originally delivered to the Shah). From what he said, this car was his (probably given to him by the Shah or just became his after the Shah left) while the Shah had the Jota one. He also told that the headlamps were broken and the raising system was replaced by a fixed one at the Jaguar Official Importator ! ( - and this is the detail that had me to write to you and which confirms that this is this particular car - ). When my father went to Iran to see the car, Mr. Esfandyari was out on trip to the USA, so that this is Mrs Esfandyari who showed the car. The car was in the back of their villa and had its original metallic blue paint and white interior (and the fix headlamps). My father agreed to buy the car as is. Few days later, when he came back with the money, no one was home anymore and the car had disappeared.

“No way to find either Mr or Mrs Esfandyari.

“Later, he heard about the car being quickly bought for WAY bigger money by some German (which is also what is written in your website) trying to export the car (which should have been VERY difficult for a car without papers). I think now that my father missed one of the most famous Miuras nowadays ! That said, I remember (when i was younger and still going to Iran) that there was a place (a kind of museum) setup up in hurry by the government in Iran during the 80s where all the Shah's cars were exposed and gathered before being auctionned to Western countries. (HUGE collection with old Alfa Romeos 6C 8C, Maseratis, Lambos (and including a deep red brand new Countach with 1'000km on the clock, Ferraris of the 50s and 60s and so on...). I may just add that during the 70's there have been lots of great cars sold to Iran (people had money and love of supercars).

“Best Regards, Alireza AZIMZADEH”