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Shah of Iran Chrysler 300K or 300B--did Exner Sr. or Jr. design it?

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Look at the picture of this huge American car,about half way down the page, side view


Everyone knows that the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavia, had a love of cars.

The rumor is that-- after the revolution--his palace was looted and the 1,000 cars scattered. Many of the cars are still there, in a nicely lit showroom of sorts, including a Bizzarrini, Cadillacs, Rolls Royces and such.

But one that would shock American car guys, if they could go to the Museum, is the Chrysler 300K .

This is a huge car, which from the side view looks like a 1956 Lincoln Premiere though from the side view there’s a little Volvo P1800 front fender treatment too. In fact the low mounted grille is almost Volvo shaped. Of course the Volvo was designed in Sweden but who knows if they were looking at pictures of this Chrysler designed in Italy when they did it?

Also it has wastegates on the lower front fender similar to Pininfarina Ferraris of the time, particularly the SuperAmericas.

The roof style is a little bit Karmann-Ghia styled, no surpsise as Ghia designed the Karmann Ghia.

The fins are typical Chrysler of the era with very elaborate rear bumpers obviously hand made just for this car.

Though some call it the K300 it is based on a 300B chassis. If one wanted to restore it, I at least know who made the glass. Ghia used the european company Sekurit to supply them with glass for their creations including flat glass.

This writer does not know if Virgil Exner Sr., who was responsible for Chrysler’s “Forward look” worked on the design though they do look like this private commission was a chance to try out in steel some future design while having a Royal foot the bill.

The car is finished in a strong bronze color, though that might have not been the original color.

The Shah seemed to turn away from American cars after he got on a Lamborghini binge.

But always, as is usual with Royals, he got a car that was a little bit different, after all it wouldn’t do for the King to drive the same car as a commoner.

What I would like to know is misc. tidbits such as: did Exner sr. or Jr. design it? Or Ghia do it all by themselves? Are there photos of the Shah with the car? Is it as valuable as the Chrysler concept cars like the d'Elegance?

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The Karmann-Ghia was based on an Exner design - the D'Elegance, which also influenced the grille and tallights on the 1955 Imperial.

The grille on the bronze car is derived from Exner's DeSoto Adventurer show car. There is a hint of the 1960 DeSoto grille in the design, although more so on the Adventurer.

Just as Ghia used the D'Elegance for the Karmann-Ghia and the Chrysler Special for the GS-1, some Italian body builder has used the Adventurer and other Exner themes on this car. It just does not have the balance Exner's show cars had. The roof line looks similar to the Plymouth Explorer of 1954, a car designed and built by Ghia.

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The design is Ghia in collaboration with Virgil Exner Sr.. On the rear flanks is "300" script. There were others also including a 350, 375, 400. And the Chrysler "613 concept" which Ex personally drove for some time and which became the '57 Chrysler 300C, was called the "Chrysler 500" as noted by Virgil Jr.

Attaching obverse and reverse of a Ghia factory photo. I would say the car is very valuable as is any complete and running concept car, however this one has virtually no US familiarity nor with collectors worldwide. Obscurity lessens value.

But I'd own it in a heartbeat if you can get it out of country for me !



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I would not call the 300K a concept car as it was not a project for Chrysler Styling but a private transaction. Concept and show cars were built by manufacturers to show off new styling ideas and/or get feedback from the public. Cars were built with custom bodies, either by the manufacturer or the car buyer, and referred to as cars with custom bodies, not concept cars.

This car, even if Exner, Sr., had a hand in its design, is a car with a custom built body, similar to the creations built by LeBaron, Willoughby, etc. before WWII, with no association with Chrysler. Which also explains why extremely few people have knowledge of this car. It was a custom body built for the Shah of Iran by Ghia to a design approved by the Shah, and was never shown to the public as it was a private transaction and not a project of the Chrysler Corporation.

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Dear Chrycoman: Can you cite your documentation on that? I personally would believe you, because I have researched other cars built for royalty

and one thing when you are a Royal, you don't want some rich butcher or gambling house owner to be able to drive the same exact car as you so you make sure the one for you is very special, unique, one-off, etc. In fact the Royal family of Brunei had dozens of special Aston martins built for them that the public never saw until a book came out picturing them. I just find it amazing the Ghia folks could wrap themselves around a car so big without consulting Exner or do you think ex-officio, Exner consulted on this car on the side? (after work?). By the way I have seen pictures of a clay model 300 with huge tailfins, staring at the bottom of the car ,maybe about three feet tall, with spare tire metal covered in rear deck. Was that car built or only a clay model...

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  • 1 year later...

Still interested is hearing why this car was built, on whose orders so to speak. Was this car built on 300B chassis or regular chassis? Do you think it was ordered by American officials to give him as a gift? (Shah got cars from leaders in several countries) What would it be worth today in the USA? Are the Iranians selling any cars out of the Museum?


I'd open picture up but it wouldn't open--maybe somebody can do it and post it. Thanks

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  • 2 months later...

I now have come to the conclusion that the Ghia built Chrysler the man found in California a few years ago that is a kissin' cousin to the Shah's 375 Ghia

is not a Ghia Chrysler but an early Dual Motors car, before Eugene Casaroll went for the open car that became the Dual Ghia.It is similar to the Shah's car but with a shorter wheelbase and a faux (padded) convertible top. I have found a picture of the 375 in copper which matches the color on the Shah car. I found a drawing on the net which shows It as the Chrysler 300 so I think when they were designing it, it was the 300 but when they built it , it became the 375.

Here's the drawing (sorry it's small) https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/de/0b/34/de0b34d30494c327945a89d9565ff104.jpg

Here's the finished car


Too bad the pictures are inadequate in size to read badge on the hood. Maybe some Dual Ghia historian can explain how this 375 got to the U.S.

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