In his automobile repair shop near Iran’s capital, Tehran, Khosro Dahaghin works carefully on a special car, a Cadillac Seville. The car is over 40 years old and needs fixing.
In the 1970’s, the American automaker General Motors (GM) partnered with an Iranian company to build the cars in Iran. The Sevilles cost more than twice as much in Iran as they did in the United States.
“The most luxurious and the most special car that was assembled in Iran was Cadillac Iran,” Dahaghin told The Associated Press. He said no other car was as good as the Seville during that time.
The Seville had a powerful engine, large and soft seats, and power windows and door locks. It sold for $12,479 in the United States in 1975 when it entered the market. If the price is changed to account for the effects of inflation, that would be over $70,000 in today’s money.
Back then, Iran had the only Cadillac production factory outside of the United States. GM created General Motors Iran Ltd., which produced the Seville and other vehicles using American designs and materials.
The Sevilles sold for about $35,000 in Iran at the time.
Michael Albano, a Cadillac spokesman in the U.S., said he believed about 2,500 Sevilles were built in Iran.
After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Americans and GM left the country. Iran continued building Sevilles for several more years. It nationalized the GM Iran factory, creating the manufacturer Pars Khodro that stills exists today.
Saeed Shobeiri is the editor-in-chief of Machine Magazine in Tehran. He thinks there are about 60 Sevilles that are in good driving condition today. And he thinks there are more than 100 that are unable to be driven. These cars need fixing.
Dahaghin, the car repair expert, and his coworkers hope to fix them. Dahaghin once watched an American television show that showed how old cars are made to look new. He has worked on Sevilles since 2013.
He said, “Now we restore these cars after years and when they are back on [the] streets they are both very beautiful and very special compared to other cars.”
But it is not easy to fix the old cars. Each one can take up to a year and a half to finish. It is hard to find parts and many of the old cars have damage. Some replacement parts are being hand-carried back into Iran by those traveling from other countries.
“I will not sell this piece of art to anyone who makes an offer,” Dahaghin said. “The buyer must appreciate the value of this artwork.”
A restored Seville can sell for as much as $40,000 in Iran now, said Mohammad Khorshidizadeh, a classic car specialist. That is very costly because the exchange value of Iranian money is low.
Albano, the Cadillac spokesman, said that more young people around the world are interested in the cars.
For fans of the classics and the Iranian automotive history, like 29-year-old Arsalan Asgharzadeh who recently bought a Seville from Dahaghin, nothing compares to a Cadillac.
“If you experience driving a Cadillac, you will always want to drive a Cadillac,” Asgharzadeh said.
I’m Andrew Smith.
Amir Vahdat wrote this story for The Associated Press. Andrew Smith adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
luxurious –adj. very comfortable, costly and appealing the senses
assemble –v. to put together in an orderly and correct way
restore –v. to bring back to working or like-new condition
appreciate –v. to value something; to consider something valuable that others might not
classic –adj. the best example of a product or work; something with a design that is appealing over a long period of time
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