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How A Chrysler 'Dream Car' Survived Revolution And A Civil War in Beirut

How A Chrysler 'Dream Car' Survived Revolution And A Civil War in Beirut
2012-08-03
How A Chrysler 'Dream Car' Survived Revolution And A Civil War in Beirut

A would-be Corvette beater goes to auction after being owned by the Shah of Iran and found in war-torn Beirut

A would-be Corvette beater goes to auction after being owned by the Shah of Iran and found in war-torn Beirut.

RM Auctions will sell the 1960 Plymouth XNR next month in Monterey, Calif. around the festivities of the annual Concourse d'Elegance, perhaps adding another adventure for the storied car with a fascinating history. The concept car penned by legendary Chrysler designer Virgil Exner was meant to take on the likes of the then-new Chevrolet Corvette. It's high performance six-cylinder engine could create 250 horsepower and had a top speed of 150 mph.

But Chrysler never saw the market for a one-seat roadster with a unique asymmetrical fin behind the driver – a design element taken from Indy cars. Instead of sending this so-called "idea car" to the scrap heap, it went to coach-builder/design studio Carrozzeria Ghia in Italy. That was just the first leg of an odyssey that would span six decades.

Ghia then sold it, and the XNR eventually landed in the garage of Mohammad Reza Pahlevi, an avid car collector and, at the time, the Shah of Iran. Pahlevi later sold it to a Kuwaiti businessman, and then the car disappeared for more than a decade.

In the early 1980s, the XNR was discovered by Karim Edde in an underground garage in Beirut during the middle of a brutal civil war. Edde says he knew what it was immediately because it was had been featured in a book he cherished about "dream cars." Hardly believing what he was
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